For many couples, they reach a point in their relationship when things seem to be ending and beginning all at the same time. It may seem like they’re turning a corner and embarking on a new phase of the relationship. It may be that they have been together for a long time and things have been going well, but something feels like it should change.
It’s only natural that two individuals who are in an intimate relationship together, both with their own needs and aspirations, make decisions in life that will affect their partner. Everyone is on their own journey, but when you are in a committed relationship, that journey starts to intersect and life choices are made in synchronicity with that significant other.
Often, the pressure to define a relationship or reach particular milestones comes from outside the relationship. The two people in the relationship are often happy letting their union evolve naturally. Whether that means traveling, moving in together, buying property, or starting a family, these things often unfold organically between a couple who are truly in love. For some, marriage seems like the logical next step, especially when people start asking about it.
Pressure from family
Marriage is a tradition. The expectation to settle down with a partner often comes from both parties’ immediate families; namely, their parents. It’s only natural that parents want to see their children happy and secure, particularly in their intimate relationships, but the reality is that security and happiness isn’t the automatic result of getting married. Sometimes, it’s quite the contrary. The decision to get married is nobody’s business but the people in the relationship.
When a couple has been together for some time, they share their entire lives. Eventually cohabiting becomes inevitable and these days couples live together whether or not marriage is in the cards. The easiest thing to do sometimes is to combine assets and income in order for both parties to benefit and to create a financially secure household — but this isn’t necessary. Two financially independent and self reliant individuals can still support one another while at the same time maintaining some semblance of autonomy over their own earnings and their financial future. Marriage doesn’t always provide financial security. In fact, it can put a drain on finances. Getting married is expensive, and putting your money together doesn’t work for everyone.
Assurance of commitment
Mainstream ideas and commercial coercion can force us to feel that unless we participate in the institution of marriage, we are somehow not committed in our relationships or our union does not have legitimacy. Sometimes, couples who are perhaps struggling to feel satisfied or are feeling like they are stuck in a rut in their relationship may be persuaded to believe that marriage will solve all their problems. Unfortunately, this is far from true.
If there are issues with a partner, if boredom has set in, if a couple is no longer excited to be together, if they are constantly arguing and rarely see eye to eye, if their life decisions seem to be pulling them in different directions, embarking on marriage is not going to repair the underlying issues. You don’t need a ring on your finger and a big party to cement the loyalty and devotion of another person. No amount of ceremony and spectacle will compensate for the hard work, the desire, and the compatibility and connection between two people. If you get married to fix your problems, you are just buying a very expensive bandaid.
Marriage as a milestone
The inevitability of marriage is something that has gained momentum in recent times and is something different to what it was traditionally.
Traditionally, marriage was a contract between a man and a father — that’s right! It was a sale, an agreement between two families. In some places, not much has changed. A man handed over his daughter to another man as though it was a commercial transaction.
These days, people balk at that idea because women certainly don’t want to view themselves as a commodity. Marriage instead is viewed as a rite of passage. A desired milestone that everyone grows up to reach. A big party with lots of lovely photos and champagne and cake. Marriage is marketed as something every little girl and every woman desires because it’s the opportunity to be queen for a day. This sometimes clouds the reality of what marriage means and what it requires for it to be successful. The truth is marriage is somewhat archaic and unnecessary. For two people to live happily ever after, all that is necessary is for those people to choose to be together.
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