Before You Say 'I do'
Marriage is not a necessity of life, no matter how many people try to convince you that it is.
Marriage is a promise that, in this day and age, cannot be kept. There are several reasons for this, one of the simplest explanations is that over the span of a lifetime, people are subject to change. This is nobody’s fault; it's just basic human nature.
Many people choose to marry when they are in their twenties. So say for example a person married at the age of twenty-four, and this person’s average lifespan is seventy-nine years. How likely is it that this person is not going to change emotionally, physically, mentally or spiritually over fifty-five years? As people we never actually stop growing. We maybe stop growing physically, but emotionally, mentally and spiritually we are forever changing.
So if a twenty-four-year-old got married, having been to university and spent the majority of their life in education, they would only have roughly two to three years experiencing the ‘real world’ on their own. Not to mention the length of time of the relationship before the marriage. Many people don’t understand the importance of experiencing life on their own, or even see it as an option against a legal attachment to someone and sharing every experience with them. Which means that if and when their relationship ends (divorce or death), they are left feeling incredibly lost or lonely, and often causes people to have severe anxiety or depression. Some may even start frantically looking for another partner to attach themselves too, like they are on a timer, and because they are in such a rush they can end up with the wrong person. This happens because people think it’s better to be in a relationship, even a really bad one, than be alone.
Spoiler Alert: It’s not.
Being on your own, being single, is incredibly liberating. You do not have to compromise on decision, comply with someone else’s way, adapt to their lifestyle, or change your thoughts or opinions to avoid an argument. This is not to say that you can’t learn a lot from other people, of course you can, but you can also learn a lot from yourself. Many people don’t even try.
Knowing yourself, learning what you like and what you don’t, what you believe, what you want, or how you feel, without outside interference, is really important for knowing who you are as an individual. Once you know who you are, and are confident with who you are, then everything else becomes a little easier.
It was not until I was twenty-one that I realised I don’t have to get married and have kids. I grew up thinking that all of that was just a give in. It might be because I was brought up in a small town, or because my parents met when they were nineteen and twenty-one, or because I constantly heard sayings like “You’ll understand when you have kids” and “You’ll need to marry a rich man to have a life like that”.
Marriage and babies were never proposed to me as an option. It was an assumption.
How marriage was not about love, but in fact about property and money
People don’t seem to remember - or like to forget - that marriage was not originally about a loving union. Marriage, in its beginning, was about bringing families together to increase money and obtain land. The people set up in the marriage would get no say in the matter, and that was the case up until the 18th century.
Its admirable that people managed to romanticise the concept. Although arranged marriages actually still exist in some cultures to this day. Marriage is now thought of as a celebration of love, but in its core, it is still about combining assets: money and property. If you really think about it, marriage is not a necessity for love, you can love without it, but marrying someone ultimately protects you financially, which is why a lot of people do it.
Marital traditions that have been romanticized, but are actually incredibly dark
On top of land and money, marriage was about the transference of property, namely the woman. The ceremonial tradition of a father ‘giving her away’ (walking her down the aisle) to her husband, is a tradition because the daughter was owned by her father, and once married would be owned by her husband. This transferal also included any property the women owned, whether land, money, or their future children. So the tradition of giving a bride away was transferring her from one master to another. I can say with absolute confidence that if I ever marry, I will be walking down that aisle alone. I highly recommend watching the ‘Economic Proposition’ speech from Little Women (2019).
Another marital tradition is to ‘carry the bride over the threshold’. Nowadays that tradition is to carry her through the front door of the marital home, a superstition of good luck. In ancient times however, when a woman had no say in who she married and was unwillingly forced into the union, she would have to be physically carried into the bedchamber - most likely kicking and screaming. Not so romantic now, is it?
The veil. Now this one I only learned about recently. The tradition of the bride’s veil was that she would wear it over her face as she walked down the aisle and throughout the ceremony, until they were pronounced man and wife. The reason for this, was that marriages used to be arranged by the parents, and the veil was a way to shield the bride’s face from the groom in case he thought her ugly and resulted in him not agreeing to the union. I’m not even sure where to begin ranting about that.
How marriage actually ruins love and romance (unintentionally)
Saying that marriage ruins romance is perhaps not the best way to put it, ruins might be too strong a word. There is no doubt however, that it happens. The thing is though, it only happens because people let it.
Let me explain. Marriage for a couple is like the final hurdle. First you date someone, then you ask them to be in a relationship, then you ask them to move in with you, then you propose and become engaged, and finally you get married. So marriage is the end game. The whole point of marriage is that you are choosing to be with a person forever. So once a partner says, ‘I do’ and they sign the register, both people in the relationship relax.
Unfortunately, some people become too relaxed. They become lazy, and they stop being romantic to their partner because they no longer have to be. They know their partner isn’t going anywhere because they are now legally bound to them. Once the romance disappears, the affection fades with it, and then the love slowly follows. This is when people start to look for attention elsewhere, and when they find it, they realise how unhappy their marriage is, and that’s when people are unfaithful. It’s sad, but it’s true.
This is often the case in long-term relationships too.
The sadder part is that it doesn’t have to be that way. People don’t have to stop trying. They choose to. Not to mention that divorce is more of a formality at this point, so people shouldn’t immediately feel too safe once they’re married, because it’s not guaranteed to last a lifetime. It just makes it harder for you to break-up.
Putting that aside, and going back to what was said earlier, many people change as they grow older, and because of that, the person they married when they were twenty-four might not be the best match anymore. People grow apart, and there isn’t anything wrong with that. But forcing a relationship out of principle, duration or legality isn’t going to make anyone happy.
It’s about having perspective, and really knowing what you want. It’s about being comfortable and loving yourself, before you let someone else do it. I can guarantee that if a person took time to be on their own, to get to know themselves, and learn to love themselves, without any interference from anyone else, that they would end up having much better relationships in future. If you don’t love yourself, then you will never believe that someone else can. That is something that a lot of people haven’t figured out yet.
Using marriage as proof of love
Have you ever asked someone why they want to get married?
Because I love him/her.
That’s great, but you love them already, why sign a piece of paper?
We want to prove our love to the world.
Marrying someone doesn’t change how much you love your partner. Why does that need to be proven? Who do you need to prove it too? Because the only people you’re actually ‘proving’ it to is the government. You are essentially inviting them into your relationship.
Marrying someone is almost like trapping them in a box, you marry them so they can’t leave you (in a manner of speaking). If you really love someone and they love you, then you shouldn’t have to worry about them straying. If they do, let’s be honest, you shouldn’t be with them. As long as you and your partner know it, then there is no need to prove it to anyone else. If you would like a more positive spin on it, just think about all the money you’ll save.
Do it because YOU want to
This article, although very negative, is not aimed to put you off marriage. At least not completely. It’s more like a warning label that you put on a medicine bottle. You know, the ones that say do not use unless you really need to.
That’s the point really, you don’t have to get married. Unfortunately, a lot of people grow up in households where its taught as a necessary part of life. Beyond that, you have the mass corporation’s constantly advertising the romantic glitz and glamour of a wedding, convincing you that its some kind of moral victory. I’m sure many of you already know this (or I hope you do) - they just want your money.
Do not marry someone because you think you need to, or panic because you think you’re getting too old. If you’re going to marry someone, take ‘need’ out of the equation, do it simply because you want to. Do it because it makes sense for you as a couple, because its financially beneficial, and protects your family. I cannot stress this enough, get married because you genuinely want to, not because other people make you think you want to.
Lastly, I want to mention the saying ‘finding your other half’. That saying is more damaging then we realise. Telling someone that they need to find their other half implies that they are not whole. We are brainwashed from a very young age to think that our main goal in life should be to find a lifelong partner, and that that is what will ultimately make us happy.
It’s not. It’s really not.
I don’t know about you, but if I was looking for someone to be with, I would much rather have a whole person than half of one.
That’s my opinion, you don’t have to agree.
If you enjoyed this article and agreed with anything that was said, here are some great further suggestions:
- Daniel Sloss, Live Show Jigsaw (available on Netflix)
- Tracy McMillan, TED Talk The Person You Really Need to Marry (available on YouTube)
- Florence Given, Book Women Don’t Owe You Pretty (there is a whole chapter on marriage)