You know when your parents used to implore, “If all your friends were jumping off a bridge, would you?”
Apparently, the correct answer was no… unless you were talking about marriage.
Then it became, “If all of your friends are settling down and getting married, why aren’t you?” Suddenly, that foreboding “bridge” everyone was jumping off of morphed into a glorious wedding aisle.
Parents want their children to be happy and because love and companionship are things that generally make us happy; we tend to think of marriage and happiness as one and the same.
In theory, the institution of marriage is a beautiful concept. In practice, correlating direct parallels between the two can be problematic for reasons I’m about to address — continue reading at your own risk.
I’m not anti-marriage. In fact, I think it’s wonderful if you can make a partnership work and be happy with your decision at least 70% or the time.
However, a growing percentage of the population is either not getting married or ending current ones, and I think that’s mainly because humans have spent decades over-simplifying the nuances of matrimony.
For starters, the concept of a legal union between man and woman goes back to biblical times, where marriage was a promise to each other and to God. (Sorry gays, this was back in the old-timey days). Many people still view it as very much the same thing, and that’s perfectly respectable, but it doesn’t account for the everyday logistics of marriage.
See, the institution of matrimony made way more sense when people were dying at 24. Partnering up with someone at 13 and spending a whole ELEVEN years with that same person seemed totally doable. But thanks to modern science and medicine, people are living to be well into their 90’s.
So now, instead of putting up with your S.O.’s crap for eleven years, it’s now become a seventy-year commitment. And that’s an astronomically huge difference that people need to take into consideration when they’re standing at the alter promising to love someone till “death do us part.” Remember that time you decided not to go into med school because it took up such a significant time of your life? Yeah, times that by ten.
Another huge factor is divorce. Back in the day, divorce wasn’t even an option until 1857 when the UK was the first country to make it legal. But very few people actually went through with it because divorce was considered an affront to God and your promise to him.
Now that divorce is significantly more common and less taboo, at face value it would appear younger generations either have less respect for the institution or just can’t commit and invest the way prior generations could.
Both arguments might hold weight but what they fail to take into account is how many people remain in horrible marriages because they are too afraid of the embarrassed associated with the D-word. Imagine how many couples spend their entire life in absolute misery because of a promise predicated on an institution set centuries prior when society was vastly different? Our viewpoints on just about every other aspect of society have evolved, so why not how we acknowledge matrimony?
Bottom line: life is way too short to be in a relationship with someone that doesn’t fundamentally make you happy at least most of the time. Conversely, life is way too long to not be very careful about who you choose to spend all those years with.
Finally, stop buying into the lie that the only way to be happy is through marriage because that’s not always true and is a blanketed summation of a very complicated thing that sets most of us up for failure