If you’re currently in a healthy and stable relationship, marriage might be something that you’re thinking about.
Perhaps your partner has brought it up in conversation, or even a helpful aunt.
But you may be wondering, “Why should I get married?”
Surely marriage isn’t for everyone…
Isn’t living together enough?
And, yes, of course marriage isn’t compulsory for a successful lifelong partnership.
In fact, a growing number of people spend their lives together without ever getting married.
But that doesn’t mean there aren’t good reasons for marriage.
Because there are… several of them.
Some of them are more important than others, and we’ve called these ‘primary’ reasons.
Others offer benefits and advantages that shouldn’t form the basis of any marriage, but do occur because of it. These we’ve called ‘secondary’ reasons.
But to give a more balanced view, we also look at some of the bad reasons why people might think about getting married.
They really have no place in any decision to tie the knot.
And just to be clear, this article is not meant as an attack on those people who choose not to get married.
It is simply meant as a positive advertisement for the institution of marriage.
3 Primary Reasons To Get Married
These are the best reasons to walk down the aisle.
Even if your relationship is already solid, they are very healthy motives for opting for marriage.
1. The Symbolic Show Of Love And Trust
There’s no doubt about it, the biggest reason why people get married is because it symbolizes a union that is built on love and trust.
A ceremony, whether religious or secular, might include declarations such as these:
“All that I am I give to you, and all that I have I share with you.”
This is you, saying to your partner, “This is my very being, which is now yours too, and I trust you to take good care of it.”
What bigger demonstration of trust is there?
And when they speak in return, you symbolically (but silently) say, “I receive your being, which is now mine too, and I will take care of it, always.”
What bigger demonstration of love is there?
Even if you don’t often say “I love you” in your relationship and even if you have never directly told your partner that you trust them, a marriage is confirmation of both these things.
2. Religious Beliefs And Values
If religion plays an important part in the lives of you and your partner, it is understandable that you may wish to get married.
This reason may often be downplayed as unimportant by those who are not religious, but if your beliefs are that the love of two people should be recognized in marriage, it is a very good reason indeed.
Your faith is yours and no one else can diminish that.
This is not to say that you could not be happy as lifelong cohabiting companions, because if the foundations are solid, you probably could.
But if your religious beliefs and values are such that marriage feels right to you, it is certainly the right choice.
3. A Sense Of Finality
Of course people get divorced. But divorce is not the aim of marriage.
When people get married, it is in the firm belief that the bond between the two parties is permanent.
And this sense of finality is a worthwhile reason to choose marriage over cohabitation.
This is important if the marriage is taking place within the first decade of the relationship.
Sure, if you’ve been unmarried, but together for 25 years, you probably already have the feeling that the relationship is permanent.
But in that first 10 years, and especially given that many marriages happen well before this relationship milestone, it is mentally and emotionally grounding to affirm your belief in the lifelong nature of your commitment to someone.
A very important distinction needs to be made here.
Marriage is not designed to cure relationship anxiety or insecurity. It should only be considered if you genuinely believe that the union between you is strong and will be lasting.
If you are insecure in your relationship, marriage will not make any difference to how you feel.
6 Secondary Reasons To Get Married
For a marriage to work, it is essential that some or all of the reasons above are considered first and foremost.
But there are other good reasons to get married.
The following may not be the core motivations for many people, but if you are in a stable long term relationship and are considering marriage, they may convince you of its virtues.
You may be wondering how this differs to the sense of finality listed above. After all, committing to someone is a way of saying that you see them in your future.
But commitment is only a good reason to get married if it is something you are giving, not if you believe it proves you are receiving commitment.
Your individual decision to get married should be based on how you feel about the relationship.
Your partner’s decision should be based on how they feel about the relationship.
Your decision should not be based on how they feel.
You have to trust that they feel confident in your relationship, but you can only be responsible for your commitment. You can’t be responsible for theirs.
This ties back into insecurity. You should not rush to commit to someone for no other reason than to hope they commit to you in return.
You should feel secure in that knowledge before you even think about tying the knot.
It’s no bad thing to feel that marriage is the right choice over long term cohabitation if this is what you see as being the “right” thing to do based on tradition.
This is likely to be a more important reason for people whose families have a history of lasting marriages.
If your parents have been married for decades, your grandparents even longer, and you have siblings who are married, it may simply feel like the sensible option.
Of course, you still need the foundations of love and trust, among other things, but if tradition for you means marriage and you find comfort in that tradition, then by all means make it a part of your decision to take the plunge.
3. Sets A Foundation For A Family
By no means does a happy and stable family life depend on the parents being married.
But it can help.
Remember the points about finality and commitment from above. It you and your partner have made the ultimate demonstration of togetherness, it may bring confidence into a decision to have a child.
And, for some, that feeling of it being “right” to bring a child into a married household will be important.
4. Security In Case Of Death
Depending on where you live and what laws you live under, an unmarried partner may already be entitled to the estate and benefits of their deceased loved one.
But if this is not guaranteed, marriage can provide a safety net in case the worst should happen.
The last thing you want in a time of grief is a legal fight over who receives what.
It’s certainly something to think about.
5. Health Insurance
In countries such as the United States where universal healthcare does not exist, marriage can give one partner access to the insurance of their husband or wife.
Whilst this may not be a big factor for some, it may play an important role in the decision for some couples to choose marriage over cohabitation.
Just check the policy thoroughly to ensure that it does actually cover you both once married. This should not be assumed.
6. Visitation Rights And Child Support
This is hardly the best reason to get married because it assumes the risk of separation or divorce.
But, for peace of mind and security, it may be a small factor in why some people get married.
After all, you don’t want to be left looking after a child, unable to work, and yet not entitled to the full level of child support from the other parent of the child who may be in employment.
Similarly, marriage might guarantee one parent’s right to see their child regularly, even if they are no longer the primary caregiver.
Depending on where you live, these things may or may not be relevant.
You may also like (article continues below):
- Is Arguing Healthy In A Relationship? (+ How Often Do Couples Fight?)
- What Does Loyalty Mean In A Relationship?
- What Women Want In A Man: 3 Key Things That Make Husband Material
6 Bad Reasons To Get Married
Now that we’ve looked at the good reasons to get married, let’s turn our attention to some of the worst.
If you are wondering whether marriage is the right choice for you, don’t let any of these things sway your decision.
1. You’ve Been Together A Long Time
By itself, time is an awful reason to put a ring on your partner’s finger.
Because let’s face it, you might have spent years in an unfulfilling relationship. Is marriage really going to change that? Hell no.
Sometimes it can just seem like you’ve committed so much time that to bail on the relationship now means losing all those months and years.
But those years are gone anyway, however happy or unhappy they might have been.
You won’t get them back.
So don’t slide into a marriage simply because you’ve been with someone for a long time.
Happy marriages aren’t born out of fear of being alone or pure laziness or stubbornness.
2. Society Or Your Family Expect You To Get Married
Are you feeling the pressure to walk down the aisle?
Are your family members constantly asking when you’re going to get engaged?
Does it feel like society’s eyes are on you and that you need to get married soon or forever be labelled a failure?
You know what, ignore that rubbish.
It doesn’t matter what your parents or family or workmates or church group think, only you can decide if and when you want to get married.
Outside expectations of you are just that – outside. They do not come from you. And you should not do something simply because it is expected of you.
Do it because YOU want to do it.
3. You Didn’t Want To Disappoint Your Partner
In other words, you couldn’t say no.
Whether that’s as the person being proposed to, or as someone who felt pressured into proposing, you just didn’t want to let your partner down.
Let’s assume you love them and see a future together, it doesn’t automatically mean you have to agree to marriage.
Perhaps it’s not the right time.
Perhaps you want to live together for a while.
Perhaps you’re really young and you think you’d both be better off maturing a little first.
But despite these things, you didn’t want to risk confrontation or, worse, a breakup.
So you just went along with it.
If something is telling you that you shouldn’t be getting married at this precise moment in time, listen to that voice.
4. You Think It Will Solve Your Relationship Problems
Some people somehow get it into their heads that marriage will put to bed many of the issues they face in their relationship.
Sorry to disappoint, but marriage vows are not some magic spell that suddenly make two people love each other forever more.
They do not stop arguments or solve the underlying causes of those arguments.
You might get a brief respite for a short while after you get married, but it may even make things worse in the long run.
Yes, all relationships have their sticking points, but marriage cannot paper over the cracks of a relationship that’s got cracks running all through it.
5. Your Family Likes Your Partner
Let’s assume that you love your partner, but you still have doubts. That’s okay and it’s not uncommon. Love is not always enough to keep two people together in the long term.
But add into the mix the fact that your family get on really well with your partner.
It can be tempting to see this as a sign that your doubts are unfounded.
After all, who doesn’t want their partner to get along with their family?
But this is not enough of a reason to even think about marriage.
Marriage occurs between two people – everyone else is just a sideshow (perhaps with the exception of children).
You, being one of those two people, need to be sure that marriage is the right thing for you and your partner.
6. Financial Compensation In Case Of Separation
If you’re thinking of getting married purely because it offers you some means to get financial compensation from your partner in the event of a divorce, don’t do it.
Sure, marriage might offer you some protection in these circumstances, but planning ahead for a divorce is hardly a good reason to get married in the first place.
This is slightly different to the rights or entitlement regarding a shared child because that is to protect the child whereas this is only to cover you.
So… Why Get Married?
To sum things up, marriage should be about love and trust first and foremost. If your relationship doesn’t have these things, don’t get married.
But if you are trying to decide between marriage and cohabitation, simply go through each of the primary and secondary reasons above and ask how important they are to you.
If many of them are important, getting married might be the right choice for you.
If they are not that important, you can continue to cohabit either permanently or until such a time where these things do become important.