Marriage Shouldn’t Be Your Goal, Happiness Should
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It is no surprise to anyone who has read my articles before that I tend to be a bit old fashioned in some of my values – but it’s also important to note that I am very much not in many others. One of which has come into conversation many times with my grandparents.
“So, when are you going to get married?”
The truth is, I don’t know. I am equally as open to the possibility of meeting the love of my life and eloping tomorrow as I am to never getting married. This surprises a lot of people, especially those in the older generations. “Well, you have to get married.”
No, no I don’t. And neither do you.
We live in a culture where essentially 50% of all marriages end in divorce. Half. Why? I have discussed the evolution of monogamy in previous articles, but there are obviously many factors at play. Lack of values in younger generations, socioeconomic issues, financial struggles within couples, infidelity, the list goes on.
Now, many of you are probably starting to cringe a bit because my talk of chivalry and courtship “should” lead to the “goal” of marriage, but I think we start getting ourselves into trouble if we put a goal or a destination on an intimate journey with another person. We start to feel pressure, and put pressure on our partner as well.
When is it finally going to happen? Shouldn’t he have proposed by now? Is she expecting me to propose? I want one kid but she wants three. I don’t know, is my job secure enough? Speaking of having children, that is a whole other can of worms for a different article, so forgive me for not addressing it here.
But with marriage, the entire process loses the enjoyment it’s meant to bring and it becomes more of a science experiment to see if all of the variables yield the result you want in order to sign the contract legally binding you together. Under those circumstances it doesn’t sound very romantic, does it? But then, why do so many plow through this red tape and still go through with it when they’re not completely sure, or ready?
I can name more than one example of couples who have been together for years, gotten married, and then ended up divorced no more than a year later.
But that’s what was expected of them. It was the goal they’d been working towards the whole time. It’s what they always wanted. Isn’t it?
When we put too much focus on the destination, we lose sight of the journey. I know more than a few couples who have been together for decades and have never gotten married! Why? Because they are happy and don’t need a piece of paper to prove it to people. I also know people who have been married for decades, many in my own family, who are equally as happy. Why? Because that’s what they wanted for themselves.
But neither of these examples are the ones we hear about the most. The ones we hear about the most are the people who have gotten married too early or for the wrong reasons, and ended up divorced. Is this to say that marriage itself as an institution is flawed or unrealistic? That depends on who you ask, but I don’t necessarily think so.
I think it is a beautiful profession of love and commitment when it is made between the right people, at the right time, for the right reasons. When there is desire in place of pressure. When there is want in place of necessity. When it is something you do because it is what you feel in your heart, not because it is an obligation.
Do you and your partner want to get married because that will make you happy? Do it! Do you and your partner want to stay together forever but would rather not get married? Go for it! Do you want to stay single for your own personal reasons? Fantastic!
We should be instilling the goal of happiness in each other because everyone has a different vision for it. We cannot fit a round peg in a square hole just as we cannot fit the wrong person into a successful marriage.
The one thing we should do, though, is stop making people feel bad for their personal choices and instead start loving and accepting them for who they are, regardless.
Be married if you want. Be single if you want. It’s your choice. Just be happy.
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