Today is a new day. The past, where marriage was expected, is over. Women are working and successful. The age when people marry is later than it has ever been, and marriages still fall apart around half the time. The idea of marriage is changing, so is marriage still important? There are legal issues, married or not. There are social issues, and family expectations, not to mention the how marriage affects the future of both people in the relationship. As the idea of marriage changes, relationships change. Today, there are options and making a decision to marry or not to marry is an important one.
I’ve met and worked with couples that have been together for more than 50 years and never got married. I have also met and worked with people who were married for less than five years, and divorced. I’ve seen relationships come apart because of money, infidelity, extended family issues, and so much more. What keeps couples together? Marriage is a legal agreement between two people, that comes apart by another legal issue called divorce. Marriage shouldn’t be based on legal agreements. It should be based on mutual respect, and commitment. A person can make a commitment, that is not marriage. Also, marriage can happen without commitment, and that may be why many marriages don’t work.
I have family who were committed to each other long before they were married. They married and their kids attended their wedding. This isn’t a long engagement, this is commitment to a future together. Being committed is knowing there will be rough times, and making it through. It’s being able to agree to disagree, and find some common ground anyway. The idea of for better or worse is real. It’s important to understand and it’s important to be able to manage both. So many couples struggle with conflict and start to grow apart, without understanding how to come back together. When there is a wedge between people, they have to be motivated to remove the wedge and come back together, no matter how hard it might be. That’s commitment.
As you think about marriage, whether you are anti marriage or pro marriage, think about commitment and what it means to you. Is the legal idea of a relationship more important or is commitment more important? Are you focused on the wedding day, with the dress, the cake, and the flowers? Have you talked with your partner about the future? Do you both want kids? How are you with money? Are there health issues you need to talk about? Do you see yourself living in the same place, or moving through the years around the country? All these issues are part of commitment. Don’t lose sight of what marriage is supposed to be, and if you choose to make the commitment to someone, make sure your partner has the same convictions and ability to commit.
Marriage can be a wonderful thing. Making the decision to marry can be wonderful as well, but only if there is a commitment, strong enough to carry you through the years. Sometimes it seems that people like the wedding more than the life they create together. That can get expensive, with the cost of weddings, and the higher cost of divorce. Don’t take marriage lightly. Make a commitment before you decide on marriage. It’s part of being happy for life.