Social Question

jqlyn's avatar

Why get married?

Asked by jqlyn (344points) October 6th, 2009

Why should people get married in our current society? What benefits does marriage give you that domestic partnership doesn’t? Why do you think people continue to get married when such a large majority get divorced.

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52 Answers

augustlan's avatar

For another discussion on this very topic, see here.

Saturated_Brain's avatar

The question should be: Why not?

Marriage is traditionally that ultimate sign of wanting to be with someone “till death do us part”. It’s been like that for a very long time and people see it as the next step in a relationship. And if they really believe that they’re going to be together then there’s no reason to not go through marriage. And once they find out that they aren’t compatible they break up.

If you ask me, I think the problem we should be focusing on is why so many people divorce.

Aethelwine's avatar

Why focus on the negative when the positive can be so rewarding?

jqlyn's avatar

But why, what reasons are good ones to get married, besides we love each other.

DarkScribe's avatar

One reason often overlooked is “staking a claim”. Your spouse is (hopefully) then recognised by other potential suitors as out of play.

jqlyn's avatar

@darkscribe you can get that without marriage. Also that doesn’t really work.

Aethelwine's avatar

@jqlyn It doesn’t really matter what the reasons are. If a couple wants to get married, they should be allowed to do so. unfortunately not everyone is allowed this opportunity

jqlyn's avatar

I understand the fact that many people can’t get married, and that is wrong. However, I am just interested in what people think. Really ponder this question, don’t just say what you always say.

Sarcasm's avatar

Joint insurance policies, reduced taxes…
There are about 1400 reasons to get marriage, beyond “Love eternal”.

jqlyn's avatar

@Sarcasm Do you know about the tax breaks? I would like to learn about them.

Aethelwine's avatar

@jqlyn don’t just say what I always say


I told you what I think. I pondered I didn’t marry my husband for insurance or tax reasons. I married him because it is a tradition and I love him.

YARNLADY's avatar

First of all, the statistics are misleading, because they only compare the number of marriages to the number of divorces in any given year. People like me have been married for 35 years do not show up at all. If all the people who were ever married were compared to all the people who were ever divorced, the rates would be much lower.

Secondly, there are a lot of legal protections afforded married couples, and it is still more socially acceptable.

jqlyn's avatar

@jonsblond I am seriously asking this question. I am looking for an answer that is satisfying to me. Would it be any different with your husband if you weren’t married and were just committed to each other?

Aethelwine's avatar

@jqlyn My opinion is my answer. Why is my opinion not serious?

I married for tradition and love. What’s wrong with that?

jqlyn's avatar

@jonsblond I am not saying that your answer is not serious. I was just seriously asking the true reasons for getting married. I am very interested in why people (and you) get married. I would like to know as many reasons as people want to give me. I am not judging anyone, I am merely asking an important question for myself and many people. Do you think it would be different if you weren’t married but were committed to each other?

SpatzieLover's avatar

Why get married? If you reside in the US, because there is no free health care. It’s MUCH cheaper for a family/committed couple if you’re married.

Aethelwine's avatar

@jqlyn and I gave you my reason. I hope you get what you are looking for.

jqlyn's avatar

You still didn’t answer my question.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@jqlyn jonsblond gave you the answer to your question.

I married my husband because he wanted exactly what @jonsblond did. Personally, if I resided in the Netherlands or Australia, I probably wouldn’t have done it period. But, we reside in the US.

Since we wanted to start our family and have a child and soon (we were together for some time before marriage) we compromised. We eloped (much more to my taste than his) and had a reception later.

jqlyn's avatar

@SpatzieLover My second question (the one that I was referring to @jonsblond) was would your relationship be any different if you were not married but committed to each other? That is the question that was not answered.

jqlyn's avatar

@SpatzieLover Thanks for your answer. Where did you elope to?

jqlyn's avatar

@SpatzieLover My sister did Vegas. Did you get married by Elvis?

SpatzieLover's avatar

no..way not my thang, no offense to the King, tho.

BBSDTfamily's avatar

@jqlyn Maybe not for everyone, but for my husband and I things definitely felt different after we were married. It’s just something about standing at the altar taking your vows in front of each other that makes it seem even more solid. Also, our religion believes that marriage is the right thing for a man and woman who want to live their life together. We love each other and wanted to make the commitment, that’s why we were married. But, other reasons to get married are tax purposes, financial stability, legal benefits, etc. Those aren’t good reasons to get married in my opinion though. The best reason to get married is for love and enjoyment of being together and being fully committed to each other (for example, my husband and I believe in breaking up if you’re dating. We do not believe in divorce. So, it makes our relationship more solid… if we get into an argument there is never any thought of divorce, just thoughts of how we’ll get through it together)... if you don’t understand and aren’t happy with other people’s answers who’ve said the same thing then fine. But it’s the truth, so accept it or not.

jqlyn's avatar

@BBSDTfamily I’m not upset by other peoples answers. I am just looking for an answer besides love. I love my partner but we are not married and I don’t feel that it would be any different if we were. Your answer is what I am looking for.

BBSDTfamily's avatar

@jqlyn thanks, I tried to answer both why and how it’s different…. glad it made sense!

BBSDTfamily's avatar

@jqlyn Do you think possibly you and your partner would view the relationship differently if you were married, maybe in some of the ways I described? To us, the committment of marriage is comforting. But to others, the freedom of not being married is comforting.

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

@YARNLADY not in the past 10 years they wouldn’t be. But when “til death do us part” was upheld ‘back in the day’ of course there were less divorces, and a hell of a lot more unhappy spouses. Recently, however, the rate of unsuccessful marriages this decade has risen sharply.

jqlyn's avatar

@BBSDTfamily I am not against marriage, I just don’t see all the reasons for it. We don’t plan on having children, which is one reason why I do believe marriage is important. We feel that we have a strong relationship and are closer than a lot of married people we know.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@jqlyn Are you 100% sure you’ll never have a child (meaning you have 100% no sex or one of you are spayed or neutered ;)

BBSDTfamily's avatar

@jqlyn It’s all about love and happiness, so you are right to do what works for you two. People have different needs and wants, and I think the important thing is to find someone with the same needs and wants that you have. Seems like you have, good for you.

DarkScribe's avatar

@jqlyn darkscribe you can get that without marriage. Also that doesn’t really work.

No, you can’t. Nothing says “not available” like a wedding ring – the first thing that most guys look for when looking for girls. It doesn’t stop everyone, but it slows a lot of them down unless the women wearing the ring offers encouragement.

As for your latter comment, that is impossible for you or anyone else to say. The most that you can say is that is doesn’t always work.

Saturated_Brain's avatar

Call me old-fashioned, but I feel that marriage is the ultimate sign that you love one person. If you’re not married, you can just say, “Darling, this isn’t working out. Let’s take a break” and break up. But with marriage, you have millennia of tradition behind you of couples who take their vows and stay together. With marriage, you’re telling the whole world that yes, this is the person and you’re here taking your vows to prove it’s so.

Maybe things will change, maybe society is evolving in another direction, but the weight of billions of people throughout the ages who believe in the sanctity of marriage still holds a lot of water.

LKidKyle1985's avatar

Well, aside from the health (married couples live longer) Financial (they also earn more) and social benefits of it, I think that getting married changes the dynamic of a relationship in a way that you know that you are both seriously committed to each other and if there are problems it gives you more incentive to work through them. I guess you trade one set of problems for a new set, but I think most people are attracted to the general stability that a marriage can offer.

Also, if you want a family, kids do better in a married family than a non married.

OpryLeigh's avatar

I don’t plan to get married even though I lovbe my partner more than anything in the world. The reason for this is, I don’t agree with the idea of making a promise that I don’t know that I can keep. How can I promise to love someone forever when I don’t know how I will feel about them in 5, 10 or 20 years time?! For the most part we can’t control feelings and so, as much as I hope that I do love my partner forever I can’t promise that.

I just want to be with him. I don’t need a ring or a peice of paper or a change of surname and a different title to do that. I can make a commitment to him without getting married. I have no intention of being with anyone else, that is my idea of commitment.

wundayatta's avatar

A lot of marriage is about the economic and legal advantages it provides automatically. Tax status is privileged. Insurance issues are easy. Social Security benefits transfer over. Inheritance rights. Right to make decisions on loved one’s behalf in medical situations. Right to take care of children if spouse dies. These are just the tip of the iceberg. If you want more information, look here. Or check out what wikipedia has to say.

Another part of it is making the public statement before everyone you care about that you want to be with this person. Most people add “until death do we part.” Even if you don’t say that, people seem to expect it if you marry.

I thought I’d never get married. What did I need state approval of my relationships for? And if it were only a marriage license and nothing else, I would have had a private ceremony and never bothered to get a license.

But in the end, I wanted to say, before all my friends and family, and her family that I wanted to make a commitment to her to be with her as long as it made sense (we did not do ”‘til death do you part.’) We did make some other commitments, such as always telling each other the truth, which has been difficult, but we have managed to do, as far as I can tell. We may not have told the truth as soon as we might have, but we’ve done it eventually.

So, if you’re going to write vows, and get up before everyone you care about, and pull together a ceremony, and even, for God’s sake, find a minister just to please your mother-in-law (but he was a minister in a gay church, so nyeh! My grandmother absolutely adored him, and I think she was even trying to put the moves on him, lol.) If you’re going to do all that, then why not get a license? Why not get all the legal privileges that come automatically with marriage?

If you’re thinking that if you’re not married, then it won’t be so difficult to “divorce,” then think again. If you have kids and joint property, then it will be just as difficult, maybe even more difficult, to disentangle everything. At least family law has precedent and rules for the disentanglement. If you have to make it up as you go along, and get involved in civil suits or whatever—well, good luck to you.

Anyway, it seems to me you should have some compelling moral or political reason not to get married. Not getting married even though you have a relationship is a kind of protest. So what are you protesting against? Is it really worth it?

OpryLeigh's avatar

@daloon “Anyway, it seems to me you should have some compelling moral or political reason not to get married. Not getting married even though you have a relationship is a kind of protest. So what are you protesting against? Is it really worth it?”

In answer to this question, I am not protesting anything, I am just choosing not to do something because, personally, I don’t feel the need to. I can see what you’re saying about if you are to have the ceremony then you might as well get the license. I agree with that. The difference is, I don’t plan on having the ceremony either. Why spend the money on a ceremony if I don’t need the lisence? Everyone who knows me is aware of who I am in love with and that’s all I need.

nikipedia's avatar

I get the impression a lot of people (certainly not all) do it to prove to themselves, each other, and the people they know that they love each other as much as other couples who get married, with the implication that people who don’t get married don’t Really Love each other.

And I think the financial benefits are a pretty strong incentive.

@LKidKyle1985: I wonder if the benefits you cite are actually different between people who are officially married versus people who are in a committed long-term relationship for an equal length of time? I tried googling around and couldn’t find any information either way.

cwilbur's avatar

Because there is no other way to say “This person is my chosen family, this person is my next of kin.”

jqlyn's avatar

Well, it seems that a lot of people here believe in marriage because it is tradition. I don’t believe all traditions are necessary. I will have to research more the history of marriage. I am still not convinced that it is necessary or that it makes your relationship any less committed or meaningful.

cwilbur's avatar

@jglyn: It doesn’t make the relationship any more committed or meaningful.

What it does do is fundamentally change your relationship in the eyes of the law.

People who aren’t married are not family. Even if they’ve been living together for 40 years. They aren’t next-of-kin for visiting in hospital intensive care units, they don’t inherit automatically. They don’t get the right to make life-or-death decisions.

A friend of mine was deeply involved with a male partner, and had been for almost a decade. They were planning to pack up and move to Tennessee together, when the partner had a fatal heart attack. Suddenly the partner’s family sensed a profit motive, and my friend found himself cut out of the family and effectively disinherited—and the thing that hurt him the most was not the $50K he had put into his partner’s house when they were planning on selling it, or the car that was essentially taken away from him, but things like the artwork they had bought together and the teddy bear he gave his late partner on the first date, which (as near as he can tell) was simply thrown away.

That’s why marriage is necessary.

syz's avatar

I did it, I hated it, I’ll never do it again.

As far as i can tell, the only reasons to “marry” are some legal and tax related ones. Other than that, I’m perfectly capable of having a secure, deeply committed, long term, monogamous relationship without a piece of paper attached to it.

wundayatta's avatar

@Leanne1986 I never really thought much of marriage, until I realized the importance of rituals. Getting up in front of all the people in the world that you care about, and making a promise to your love is a powerful experience. It gives everyone in that room a stake in the success of your relationship. It is part of building a community, and giving the couple a place in that community.

“Being aware” is not at all the same thing as participating in and supporting. A celebration is an important (non-religious) consecration of the relationship.

I’m sure you believe in your relationship, and you believe you take it very seriously. I had several long term relationships before I got married, and I found marriage to be very different because my sense of commitment made a quantum leap. It’s not something you can become aware of without actually getting married. I never understood how much more serious a relationship could become, and the ceremony helped bump my relationship up into that new level of awareness and commitment that I had no idea existed up until then. It’s not really something you can know, unless and until you experience it.

Now marriage might not do that for you. Our experiences will most likely be quite different. Then again, I am so different in my understanding of things at this age than I was thirty years ago when I still didn’t believe that marriage was useful. I didn’t understand the importance of ritual and ceremony in those days. I had no understanding of what community is. I did not feel a part of anything. It was just me and my girlfriend, making our rootless way in the world.

Using money as an excuse not to get married is silly, too. I’ve been to plenty of pot-luck weddings. I’ve been to weddings in state parks and at recreation facilities and people’s homes. I’ve seen weddings on beaches. You don’t need ministers and fancy receptions and fancy dresses or any of the consumer culture bullshit. In fact, I think that status climbing stuff is—well, demeaning to the point of the function.

I think that the more of yourself you put into the ceremony, the more it will mean. If you design the ceremony and organize the event; if friends provide the food and maybe even the music and the clothing and the flowers, or whatever you want, it becomes much more of a community-building event than cash-on-the-barrel-head weddings.

Meaning is the point of marriage. The legal rights come along with it, and they turn out to make life much easier. But the point is the meaning—the meaning of your relationship; the meaning of your community; your place in the relationship, the community, amongst your friends and family, and in the world. The meaning is different for everyone, and far too many people don’t take the time to make it meaningful as it could be. But if you do; if you throw your heart into creating this ceremony; then you will create a meaning that will last until you die.

Aethelwine's avatar

@daloon Very well put. So many people spend thousands and thousands of dollars on their wedding and I never understood this. My husband and I married at a state park because it meant a lot to us to get married outdoors with nature instead of being in a stuffy old church. We only had 50 guests and the band was my brother in-law’s band. We made it meaningful to us and it was a moment to share with the people that are closest to us.

LKidKyle1985's avatar

@nikipedia I wonder that as well, I’d imagine in some areas they are similiar while not so with others. Like longer life, yeah probably, more pay, probably not cause married men earn more than single so I think its a social stigma thing. And the stability may or may not be there but thats a wild card even in married couples sometimes.

OpryLeigh's avatar

@daloon Don’t get me wrong, I can appreciate that marriage to many is useful and legally and financially it would probably be useful for me also but I don’t see how the fact that I am not married (in the eyes of the law) makes my relationship any less meaningful. I will get up in front of any audience (big or small) and tell them that I love this man and want to be with him for the rest of my life. I don’t need legal documents to do that. If that’s what you mean by celebration where family and friends can “participate in and support” then I will happily do that it my front room! However, if I ever were to get married (legally) then I would most likely not have many friends or family their. I know that seems weird (and this just shows how different people’s ideas of “showing commitment” are) but I would rather it be a personal occassion between me and my man (and one friend or family member as a witness if necessary) and not a performance for everyone else. I can understand though that this wouldn’t be everyones choice and I can understand why.

FYI I don’t just “believe” I take my relationship seriously, I know I do and I don’t care what anyone thinks, I don’t need a ceremony of any kind to take my relationship seriously.

wundayatta's avatar

@Leanne1986 You sure don’t need legal documents to solemnize your relationship in front of your community. And if it’s just a legal procedure, like with a JP, then there’s no reason for anyone except the witness to be there.

And I am sorry about my implication that you don’t take your relationship seriously. I totally believe you that you do. I’m just telling you that when I got married, even though I thought I took my relationship very seriously, and I was very proud of myself for doing so, I found another level of seriousness that I had not experienced before. You may be different, of course.

Also, I’m not trying to convince you to get married. I respect any choice you make. Although I will point out that if you live in a common law state, then you may end up finding yourself married, license or no.

I happen to believe that a commitment ceremony is important in ways that it’s hard to imagine until you do it. I happen to appreciate the legal advantages that come with a legal marriage. I happen to believe that the state really has nothing to do with it. This is personal. Not something that is the government’s business. Except that, to the extent that government is one aspect of community, and to the extent that government is us, we do have an interest in my relationship, and in supporting it. However, for me, the government is impersonal, and it doesn’t feel right to involve them. In fact, I don’t really think they are involved. A license, while an important piece of paper, is just a piece of paper.

I do hope you will have a ceremony. I think you may be surprised at how it makes you feel. There are few times in life when you are the center of attention in a good way. The other time, you aren’t really there to appreciate it. I think it is important to express how meaningful your relationship is to all the people you care about. I think it makes a difference that is hard to imagine until you do it. However, as I said, you may not experience what I experienced.

I wish you the best.

OpryLeigh's avatar

@daloon Thankyou for the discussion, I can completely understand why others get married and I’m all for a celebration of any type. I don’t know much about my future but I do know who I want to spend my life with. I may not need the piece of paper or the declaration that we are now “husband and wife” but cake and a party is always a good idea :) I’m sure there is a compromise.

Capt_Bloth's avatar

Need a tagline. seriously, we need a last name/tagline.

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