Social Question

codette's avatar

Why get married? What does marriage mean these days?

Asked by codette (394 points ) September 13th, 2012

Why do people get married? What does it mean? Culturally, personally? What is its draw, its purpose, in this day & age? What are your personal views, or what are your community’s views and do you agree?
I’d love to read some non-Western cultural perspectives on marriage and committed relationships.

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20 Answers

marinelife's avatar

I can only talk about myself and my marriage. Marriage was a sacred commitment of my husband and I to each other. The ceremony meant something. It was a steadying influence when times were bad and we had to work through problems. It was a joyous memory when times are good.

wundayatta's avatar

It makes wealth building and child rearing and health decision making a hell of a lot easier. There are supposedly more than 200 financial benefits to marriage.

Personally, I got married so I could tell my wife’s family, my family, and our friends that I loved her and was committed to her. I wanted a great party and I wanted people to know each other. It has worked out pretty much as planned, although I was a bit surprised at how my college friends kind of dropped out of the picture after twenty years or so.

When I was younger, I never wanted to get married. But when I met my wife, I realized I wanted to make a statement in front of all the people we cared about. I didn’t care for the state’s imprimatur, but actually, I had no idea how important all those benefits would turn out to be. I still don’t care for the state, but I do care about the benefits.

Religion was never an issue for me. My wife wanted a minister because she wanted to please her mother. So we found a gay minister (because that was the only person I knew in the progressive community who was religious) and he married us. He did a great job. He had a great low voice. And he put up with my grandmother flirting with him all afternoon. If only she knew.

We had a great party. Great dancing. Good food (although we don’t remember eating a bite). It was fun organizing it. It was us, through and through.

Qingu's avatar

To quote Massachusetts Supreme Court Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall:

“The exclusive commitment of two individuals to each other nurtures love and mutual support; it brings stability to our society. For those who choose to marry, and for their children, marriage provides an abundance of legal, financial and social benefits. In return, it imposes weighty legal, financial and social obligations.

Civil marriage is at once a deeply personal commitment to another human being and a highly public celebration of the ideals of mutuality, companionship, intimacy, fidelity, and family. Because it fulfills yearnings for security, safe haven and connection that express our common humanity, civil marriage is an esteemed institution and the decision whether and whom to marry is among life’s momentous acts of self-definition.”

wonderingwhy's avatar

This is just a “westerners” personal view, everyone has there reasons and values concerning marriage. I certainly don’t agree with all of them (likely they disagree with mine) and while I’ve known some people who I’d say did it for the wrong reasons and at times without much forethought, to each their own.

Why? The benefits mostly. The ritual binding (I don’t mean that in any sort of religious way) of the commitment somehow makes the commitment seem more “meaningful”, sort of brings it front and center as it were, and the whole thing is a good excuse to throw a hell of a party. But really, it’s just ceremony, pomp and circumstance, showing off, sharing, and celebrating. Personally, I could’ve done without it, the important part – the mutual commitment driven by love – is there, to me that’s what matters and I only need her to know that. Though the benefits do make many things simpler.

I don’t really pay much attention to the “community” view, I figure if you love each other that much and want to publicly announce that love and proclaim your devotion, best wishes and more power to ya.

Coloma's avatar

I no longer believe in traditional marriage. I think it is unrealistic to expect one person to fulfill your needs for a lifetime and other than the legal protection of assets and for the sake of maternity/paternity, traditional marriage is an illusion and a man made construct whose time has run it’s course.
Not to mention how much people grow and change over a lifetime, and mostly, this growth and change is NOT in synch with the other partner by a long shot.
When marriage became the norm, primarily for a man to be secure about the paternity of potential offspring, so he was not saddled with the burden of raising another mans progeny, well…people only lived til about 40, if that.

“Til death do you part” meant MAYBE 20 years, not 40, 50, 60 or more. The exception rather than the rule in those times.
The ” institution” of marriage is just that, an institution, and institutions historically fail.
I was married once for over 20 years and now divorced for 10.

I have had a few relationships since but I would never marry again.
After my divorce I did a lot of “work” and came to the conclusion that more so than my “love” feelings for my ex, the biggest reason I married was the programing that said if you have romantic feelings for someone marriage is the natural course things should take.
I have since heavily amended those false beliefs and am quite happily single and plan on remaining so.

Funny thing is NOW, at 50ish it is the MEN that are desperate to secure another wife.
No thanks, find someone else to hold your hand when you have that triple bypass. lol

cookieman's avatar

I married my wife because I love her so much I can’t imagine waking up to anyone else for the rest of my days. Period. Don’t over think it.

josie's avatar

Not much without a willingness to compromise, and to learn from one another. It is not a coincidence that American marriages too often fail, and American politics is fucked up. Lots of people these days assume the worst about everybody else’s intentions. Not a formula for cooperation.

Pandora's avatar

Marriage in some ways holds a deeper bond than family. We do not choose our family nor do they really choose us (unless you were adopted) but when you marry you find another soul mate that openly chooses you for all that you are. The only reason why marriage seems like a joke today has more to do with people morals and sense of responsibility and honor. Marriage is more than just love. Anyone can love another person but without the same morals, goals, responsibilities and honor, than marriage becomes a waste of time. I don’t make promises lightly and neither does my husband. If we feel we cannot commit to something from the small to the large than we don’t utter the words, yes we will. Marriage is a bond with someone else, each promising to hold each other up when they are tired, weak or frighten. To share the joys that life brings to help raise a strong and loving family and pass on the virtues you have and to have someone to cry with so you never feel alone. A promise to be there and hold your love one’s hand and comfort them when their time on this planet is over. And if you are the last one left standing alone once more. Hopefully you raised your children to help comfort you when death is knocking at your door.
Marriage (is a contract an honor bond) that can and will bring two people who are right for each other even closer. Because when you look at your partner you know they have surrendered all rights to be free and have signed off to you to be bonded to you till you die. Of all the people they will meet, you are the only one to have this promise. Its called backing up your words. Words and promises in private aren’t the same.
i didn’t think it was super necessary till I saw him sign the marriage contract and take his vows in front of the judge. That is when I realized how much I he truly loved me. It was a different feeling right away. Washing away any doubt I harbored in the back of my mind. I knew he loved me, just not how much till that moment. I already knew how I felt. It was a new path created in one moment in my life, and I knew he would walk every step with me. Our world was full of possibilities.
That is what marriage is for me.

Coloma's avatar

@Pandora Yes, common values and goals are tantamount.
I choose to divorce my ex because we had been mismatched in those areas, as well as intellectually and spiritually and “love” and sex can only stretch just so far before the chasm of intrinsic incompatibility catches up to you.
My ex was all about image and money and very narcissistic, I was the earthier more esoteric one, the one with more integrity and not a prisoner of status and image, a very rocky union to say the least.

The best predictor of long term satisfaction is shared values and goals, no doubt about it.

hearkat's avatar

I’ve always said that commitment and marriage are mutually exclusive – each can exist without the other.

As @wundayatta said, being legally married has benefits if the couple plans to raise children, or when one partner gets sick, and there are financial benefits. I have always viewed it as a formality and a business decision.

In the USA, marriage is a legal document that makes two people each other’s family with the rights and obligations thereof. The marriage license comes from the courthouse; and if it doesn’t work out as hoped, one party sues the other for divorce through the courts, or the contract is dissolved through mediation.

I live in a state that allows civil unions for same-sex couples; however, the federal government does not (yet) recognize this, so the state and federal taxes are all different, as are the health care benefit deductions from payroll.

nikipedia's avatar

So you have someone to put calamine lotion on your itchy back when you have a mysterious rash.

Coloma's avatar

@nikipedia Perhaps, unless you marry a squeamish and fragile type. Once the cat threw up a tapeworm and my ex ran from the room gagging. Guess who picked up the tape worm?
Hence my quip about being ” more woman than you can handle and more man than you’ll ever be!” I always did the gross stuff. Jeeez…just DO IT! lol

wundayatta's avatar

@Coloma Will you teach my wife to dispose of mice on her own?

Coloma's avatar

@wundayatta Sure, but my approach won’t be gentle.
I have zero tolerance for pussies! lol

digitalimpression's avatar

Marriage signifies a level of commitment and devotion that appears to be on the fall these days. I hear more and more people asking this very question and it doesn’t really surprise me.. but it does make me shake my head and wonder about the direction society is going.

Personally, I couldn’t be happier about the fact that I have someone to go home to every single night. I have someone with me that I can trust, confide in, fight with, love with, hurt with, and laugh with. Each year (and mind you it doesn’t happen on its own and does require work) we get closer and closer.

Each fight and subsequent glorious makeup um.. session.. makes me more and more happy to be married.

As to why you should get married? That’s not for anyone else to say. We can give you reasons from our perspective.. but everyone is different. Marriage isn’t for everyone. Some feel tied down while others feel supported. Some feel like they’re chained down while others feel a deep connection with another person that transcends the superficial, sexual adventures of their younger days. Some get married thinking in the back of their head “well I could always get a divorce”.. while others will suffer through just about anything to keep a marriage together.

I have a lot of strong convictions about this subject but I’m having trouble putting it into words at the moment.. Suffice it to say, marriage (for me) has had ups and downs.. but the juice has been worth the squeeze.

abundantlife's avatar

Marriage becomes more like a hobby today. Its not like in the old days where you married to someone and stays with him/her until death. Now you get more marriages than deaths.

Coloma's avatar

Well..I think that part of our work as ever evolving humans is to question “tradition” and other, potentially false belief systems. Blindly following tradition is not always in ones best interest.
The majority of what people believe has been programmed into them by family, religion, society, culture, etc. Have the courage to challenge yourself and really examine just WHERE your beliefs have come from.

The unexamined life is NOT worth living! ;-)

ucme's avatar

It’s just a piece of paper….more or less.

hearkat's avatar

@digitalimpression: I have all those things without a marriage license—well, except for the fighting, because we’ve only had one minor tiff in the 3 years we’ve been together. We were friends for a few months first, and the commitment was as strong as if we’d gotten married from the moment we began discussing that we wanted to be more than friends. We do intend to get married in a few years’ time, when it makes financial sense for us to do so. At the moment, it makes more sense to be legally single. So again, I will say that commitment can exist without marriage, and marriage can occur without a true commitment – the two concepts are mutually exclusive in today’s society.

Aethelflaed's avatar

Get married for the legal benefits, of which there are over 1,400.

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