If you’ve got wedding bells on the brain, take some time to think about why you are getting married.
Your first reaction to the question, “why are you getting married?” might be part insult and part intrigue.
You might think that you are getting married because you love your partner, but when you dig into the question a little more, you might find that your beliefs are flawed.
You can love someone and not marry them.
So make sure you are going down the aisle for the right reasons.
Here are 7 great reasons to get married. After that, we’ll discuss 5 terrible ones.
7 good reasons to get married
Celebrating your love with your close friends and family and signing an official marriage license can make your relationship feel strong and meaningful that simply living together doesn’t do.
For some people, having that piece of paper that says you and your partner are bound by law is all you need to feel secure and happy in life.
According to Suzanne Degges-White Ph.D. in Psychology Today, It also means “no matter how sick/ill/indisposed you are, there is someone who will support you and love you no matter what. No matter what.”
2) Marriage makes you feel more secure.
Signing those papers and celebrating your love for each other puts a protective shell around your relationship.
You know that if you ever have a fight or disagreement that you’ll both do your best to work things out.
You also know that no matter what challenges you face, you’re both going to support each other no matter what.
According to relationship therapist John Gottman, solidifying your trust and committment can be a great thing for a relationship:
“[Love] involves attraction, interest in one another, but also trust and commitment, and without trust and commitment, it’s an elusive thing…It’s something that fades away. But with trust and commitment we know you can stay in love with your partner for a lifetime.”
3) You’ll feel and act like a team.
You don’t necessarily need marriage to do this, but using the terms “husband” and “wife” has a way of making two, one.
A husband and wife is a more permanent team working together. After all, you are officially a family now.
Psychologists use a term called “transformation of motivation” to describe people who get married.
This means that you start to work together to achieve the best outcomes for you both, as opposed to acting on self-interest.
According to Psychology Today:
“It requires the ability to hold in mind the long-term goals of the relationship. With motivation transformed, partners are more apt to take a moment to consider how to respond, rather than react reflexively in the heat of a moment.”
In other words, you have a new set of mutual goals you want to achieve together.
4) Your lives are more calm and certain.
When you’re in a relationship, there can be a sense of unease about how serious it actually is.
Are we going to spend the rest of our lives together? Or is this just a 1-2 year thing and I’ll be left in the dark by the end of it?
Because marriage is the ultimate level of commitment, those doubts quickly disappear.
Once you’re hitched, you feel content and at ease about the future.
5) It signifies the love you have for each other.
When you’re in a relationship, you’re never really sure about how you compare with the other partners they’ve dated. Are you better or worse? Are they going to leave me when they find someone who is better?
But when you decide to get married, those doubts are thrown out the window. You know that you’re the love of their life and they’re the love of yours. You’ve both declared with each other that this-is-it.
Suzanne Degges-White Ph.D.describes when marriage might be the next logical step:
“If you can look your love in the eye, and know that you would not bat that eye, no matter what document, past relationship, or current anxiety was brought up between you, then perhaps marriage is the logical next step.”
6) There are practical benefits to marriage.
You shouldn’t decide to marry because of tax breaks. But there are benefits to marriage.
Research has suggested the financial benefits of marriage. Long-term marriage may offer a 77% better rate of return than staying single and total wealth of married persons increases 16% year over year.
If you know you’re going to be together for the rest of your life, then it’s beneficial to marry.
You can share benefits like healthcare and social security. And if you have kids, they’ll support you no matter what.
7) You learn to communicate with your partner.
Some of what we’ve come to understand a good marriage include good communication and good fighting skills.
You can hash it out and come back together every time without resentment or built up rage.
As clinical psychologist Lisa Firestone writes, when couples express and tell each other what they want, good things happen.
“Their voices and expressions soften. Much of the time, their partner no longer feels on the defensive, and their body language changes,”
If you have a similar view of the world and want to work toward goals together, you might be in for a healthy and happy marriage.
If you have a good friendship and like each other, marriage is probably a good idea. You can love someone out of habit, but not necessarily like them.
(If you’re looking for a structured, easy-to-follow framework to help you find your purpose in life and achieve your goals, check our eBook on how to be your own life coach here).
Here are five bad reasons to get married
1) You think marriage will fix your relationships issues.
Nobody’s relationship is perfect, so if you are going into marriage to try to fix your relationship, you might want to think again.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that a ceremony and a gift table is going to take your relationship to the next level.
Best Life offers some great advice:
“Before you decide to say “I do,” be sure to evaluate your own relationship: If it’s constantly full of ups and downs and never feels stable, it might not be the wisest move to make until those problems are resolved.”
These days, most couples are already living together, share bank accounts, loans, assets, and other worldly objects so a wedding day is just another day and a whole lotta dollars to show the world you like each other enough to spend the money.
So before you make that kind of commitment, make sure you are not going to get married just to try to make things better.
2) You don’t want to be alone for the rest of your life.
A reason so many people seek out marriage is that they believe it is going to solve an anticipated problem of loneliness.
A study by Stephanie S. Spielman suggested that the fear of being single is a meaningful predictor of settling for less in relationships and staying with a partner who is wrong for you.
According to author Whitney Caudill, “Feeling loneliness or fear from time to time as a single person is normal. In fact, it is normal for everyone.”
The key is to be aware of this and realize that these are just feelings. Staying in a relationship to avoid loneliness rarely produces good results.
Whether you are trying to fill a void in your life now or later, getting married is not the way to make sure you aren’t lonely for the rest of your life.
You might find, through talking to some of your married friends that will tell you the cold, hard truth, that marriage makes for a lonely life because you are siloed into a routine and role and don’t have a lot of flexibility to explore and do things on your own.
You might dream of a relationship where your partner follows you around on all kinds of fun adventures, but what you might find is that you end up doing a lot of things on your own and aren’t feeling as fulfilled as you had hoped.
3) You want to be normal.
There is a widely held belief that getting married is the normal thing to do.
This comes from generations of people getting married as the “next steps” or the “right thing to do” after being with someone for a long time.
Your parents might be pressuring you into getting married for the sake of others. Traditional parents may want you to get married because they worry about how it will look to their friends if you don’t.
The classic question of “what’s wrong with them?” if you don’t get married might become too much for all of you and you’ll find yourself walking down the aisle before you know it.
But it’s a bad idea to get married because you think it will make you normal and improve your self-worth. Jill P. Weber Ph.D. explains why:
“If you have never felt fully intact and good about yourself, separate from a romantic relationship, this relationship will let you down simply because no one can give us worth that we can’t first give ourselves.”
4) Social Pressures
The first reason, and perhaps the most popular reason (although many people would not admit it to their friends and family) is to marry because of what others will think if they don’t.
Being in a relationship means that you are supposed to follow a certain path.
If you’ve been together for a certain length of time and you aren’t talking marriage, people may begin to ask you what’s wrong.
You might even start to think something is wrong if you aren’t planning a wedding in the near future.
Social pressure can make people do things they aren’t entirely on board with – marriage is certainly one of those things.
According to Susan Pease Gadoua L.C.S.W. in Psychology Today:
“Marrying because you “should” almost always comes back to haunt you in the end.”
5) Expectations from Family
There’s a generation of people who are striving to fulfill their parents’ wishes.
Going to the best colleges, getting the high-paying jobs with the promise of a pension or retirement package at the end of a long and successful career, a mortgage, marriage and of course, children to top it all off: these are the things that many people were brought up to believe were the way of the future.
It’s not that parents didn’t want their children to make their own decisions, but that they wanted their children to make decisions that would help them succeed in life.
These things have come to be equated with having “made it” and if you have a happy marriage, you’ve really made it.
But you won’t prove anything to anyone by getting married for the wrong reasons. Jill P. Weber Ph.D. offers some great advice in Psychology Today:
“At the end of the day, marriage proves nothing. Instead, prove to yourself that you can maintain a healthy relationship in the here and now. Work to be yourself, to communicate and to love someone fully just as they are.”
It’s the dream and many people are still looking to fulfill those dreams, whether they are their own or not.
6) They have a good job and their body is attractive
It may sound nice when you envision a life with someone who earns a lot of money or has a nice body.
But there’s much more to life than money or looks. You might find that you’re not very fulfilled if you can’t genuinely connect with your partner on more meaningful things.
Mark D. White Ph.D. says in best in Psychology Today:
“You need to think about what is really important in a long-term companion—the great body and terrific job might be nice, and may certainly make a person attractive, but do you really need either one to make you happy long-term? If so, fine, but I would tend to think that qualities rooted in the person’s personality or character would be more important, such as warmth, honesty, and trustworthiness.”
What’s important here is to remember that there is no right or wrong answer to marriage. It’s right for some people and not right for others.
If you find yourself on the fence of the decision, paying attention to what is holding you back from making that decision and digging into the beliefs you hold about marriage might help you determine the right path for you.
Whether you feel pressured to get married, or you really love the person and want to spend the rest of your life with them, you can do that with or without marriage.
Make decisions that are your own and you’ll never go down the wrong path.