[Editor’s Note: This post is being featured along with a post that makes the case FOR marriage. We wanted to present two different opinions about whether or not marriage is still relevant, important, and valuable today.]
Marriage is one of the dumbest social institutions out there, and I can think of at least 10 good reasons why.
1. I don’t need a piece of paper to tell me I’m in love and/or committed.
When I say I’m against marriage, people often think I’m against romantic relationships in general. I am NOT. Romantic relationships are wonderful, and most of us benefit from having them at least at some point of our lives. We humans are social animals and we need intimate, long-term connection to be healthy and happy.
However, what I don’t understand is why we need to sign a piece of paper in order to make a commitment to each other? We can love each other and live together happily ever after without that piece of paper. Love and commitment do not need our signature on a piece of paper; they need our hearts and minds to be in the right place.
2. I don’t need a piece of paper to stay faithful.
I don’t personally want to stay faithful “no matter what”, but for the many people out there who do, it seems like marriage makes infidelity a bigger crime than if you’re ‘only’ dating. A roommate once cheated on his fiancée (with me) a few weeks before their wedding, saying that once he was married, he wouldn’t be able to do such things. Really? You think your fiancée would think it was less of a big deal to sleep with me before than after the wedding?
If you have a promise to be faithful to each other in a romantic relationship, breaking that promise is equally bad and hurtful to the partner. Many people end up cheating on their spouses anyway. So it’s not much of a protection against it.
3. The state has no business regulating my private life.
Marriage is a social contract with the state. You follow our rules, the state says, be a good and predictable citizen (who will buy a house, get mortgages, have kids, save for those kids’ college tuition, etc.), and we’ll give you all these awesome benefits. Why should the state give a damn about who I sleep with, love, and/or live with (as long as it’s consensual)? That’s my own private life and the state should have nothing to do with it.
4. It’s highly discriminatory!
All those financial and other benefits that married couples get that do not extend to single people and people in other alternative relationships – that’s pure and straightforward discrimination!
5. Weddings are really really expensive and you don’t get much out of them.
You do get a few photos, a tremendous amount of stress, and much time completely wasted. Why feed into the whole wedding business? Flower baskets?! Wedding pictures?! Really?! Go on a month-long vacation instead.
6. Divorce is bad.
Divorce is even more expensive, and an emotional bitch too. Half of your friends, colleagues, relatives are probably already divorced by now, with nothing but awful, heartbreaking stories to show for it.
Oh, but you think it’s not gonna happen to you, don’t you?
7. Divorce is common.
Common as in 50% of first marriages end in divorce. The number for 2nd and 3rd marriages goes up to 75%!
Sure, not all people have the same likelihood of divorce (your chances are lower if you’re White, highly educated, financially well-off, and married later), but everyone is vulnerable. No one enters a marriage thinking they’ll get a divorce – they enter a marriage thinking they’ll live together happily every after! Yet, a few years down the road, they’ll be at each other’s throats. It is VERY likely it will happen to you too.
Every time I see or go to a wedding, I think to myself, 1 in 2 chances, guys, 1 in 2. Yeah, that’s awfully cynical of me, but you can’t argue against reality. (Unless you’re a Republican in today’s America, but I’m digressing…)
8. Of those not divorced, many are MISERABLE or at least not particularly happy.
In a survey of over 20,000 U.S. married couples, about 25% of them were pretty miserable – as in both partners were pretty dissatisfied with their marriage. Another 50% were either so-so satisfied, or one partner was happy but the other one was not. Only 25% of married couples were actually both happy. Only 25%. Add these numbers to the 50% divorce rate, and you get that about 13% of married couples who are and will remain happy and fulfilled in their marriages for the rest of their lives.
You still think you have a chance?
9. Isn’t marriage good for women, at least?
That is soooo wrong! Marriage is much better for men than women.
- Men typically reap more physical and emotional health benefits from marriage than do women. Even when those marriages are not particularly happy.
- Women benefit from marriage, physically and emotionally, ONLY if the marriage is a happy one. Otherwise, their well-being suffers.
- Women are also twice more likely to initiate divorce, and less likely to want to remarry after they learned their lesson.
So why is it that it always seems to be women who want to get married, and men who’re trying to dodge the issue for as long as they can?! The best explanation I can come up with is socialization. Women are taught from a very early age to desire marriage, dream of the big wedding, covet the white picket fence. Men are allowed to be more adventurous in their aspirations, at least for a while (eventually, they’re expected to get married too, but the pressure comes later in life and is not as overwhelming).
10. Kids don’t need their parents to be married in order to be happy and healthy.
Kids don’t need their parents to have signed a piece of paper that they’re married in order for them to be happy and healthy. What they do need are parents (1, 2, 3+) who love them, love each other, and care for them and each other. Whether or not they are legally married is completely irrelevant!
All over Western Europe, more and more couples are having children without being legally married, even though they live together. I can’t wait for that more progressive attitude to come to the US.
The bottom line: Just love and enjoy each other for as long as you do. There is no need to make it more difficult to separate once you stop enjoying each other. More often than not, that time will come much sooner than you think.