What does it mean to be married?

What does it mean to be married? There are many romanticized concepts of marriage involving ideas like “one true love” and “destiny”.  These ideas are sweet and great for movies, novels, and inspiring legends of old. The reality of marriage is really quite basic. A marriage is a union.

Some marriages are based on mutual love, where the couple chooses each other. While other individuals have their partner chosen for them by their parents and family; this is the case with arranged marriages.

Why do we marry? Love and affection can be achieved through dating, no need to tie the knot. A marriage is also not meant to create children, because as we all know it is the sexual act not the marriage ceremony that produces offspring. Unmarried couples live together and share financial responsibility, so that’s not the reason.

To take all the romanticism out of the idea of marriage, the reason we marry is because marriage is a social/religious convention. It is what is considered proper and deemed correct by most people in  society.  Dating is meant to transition to engagement and then to marriage. In the case of arranged marriages the phase of dating is skipped and the couple goes straight to engagement to marriage.  The term dating is considered slightly juvenile. The titles of Boyfriend/Girlfriend sound inferior to the terms of Husband/Wife. The concept of marriage is considered sacred and important in society.

Why does society and religion dictate that a couple should formally announce their commitment to each other? Stability! A marriage, whether religious or civic is a legal union. It is viewed by the government and the church as an agreement. A clear commitment to stay together.

Look at Western Wedding vows. Commitment is riddled throughout it!

“ I,  ”your name” take you,” spouse name” to be my lawfully wedded(husband/wife), to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.

WOW!, until death, now that’s something I can plan a future around!

The reasons I married are no different then what I described above. The honest answer; I loved him and wanted to spend my life with him. It was not enough to me to just be dating; I wanted his future tied to mine formally. I wanted that agreement in writing. I wanted to know I could plan my life with him and that one disagreement could not end it all so suddenly. I also wanted the rights and legal privileges of marriage. A legal marriage requires a formal divorce, which included a huge stack of paperwork, lawyers, and a headache. I was secretly hoping that the thought of the process of divorce would make us realize the disagreement was really not that bad. I married for stability.

Did you know that people are generally happier being married then being single. Many studies have been done on the topic of happiness in marriage versus happiness being single. Here are the results from the Pew Research Center; 43% of married respondents reported that they were “very happy,” compared to 24 % of unmarried individuals. Stability and a sense of security are directly tied to one’s ability to achieve happiness. Having an idea about the future and being able to plan for it gives a person a sense of meaning and control of their lives. Marriage with all of its ups and downs is still a very formal union at its core. It gives the individual a sense of stability.

When you marry another individual you tie yourself to their life. Your future is combined with theirs. Your plans must include this individual. You must also communicate your plans, actions, spending, and general movements to this other individual. At times you may have to compromise on something that you may want. In my opinion the secret to a happy marriage is finding an individual with similar values and goals.  The more similar the values and goals in the marriage the less compromises that are needed to be made.

Honestly marriage is not for everyone. If you are the type of person that needs complete autonomy in life, marriage may really not be for you.  To put it quite basically you lose some freedom being married. Someone else has an impact on your life. This can be frustrating at times. Having to factor in another person, their goals, their family, their emotional background all into something you are trying to complete is challenging. This is especially true for finances, raising children, and career planning. If the two individuals are not on the same page on those issues, then that relationship is doomed to be a difficult one.

Marriage is really quite beautiful. Marriage is a union of two people. Two people that love and support each other. Two people that are bound together by experience and habit. I have only been married four years, but I cannot think of life without my husband in it. My everyday habits are formed around our relationship and its history.

A marriage is a process. Most people assume you are married when you finish your vows at the wedding ceremony. The reality is the longer you are married, the more married you become in each other’s lives. The more connected you become to each other, the stronger the union becomes. This is especially true if the couple has endured obstacles and came out stronger on the other side.

In my experience marriage is not the romanized concept of true love and destiny. A marriage is just two simple people trying to make a future together. Two people bound together by a promise. Two people tied together by a history and mutual love. Two people working towards a dream. It takes some work. There are good days and bad. When all is said and done having a partner to travel through this journey of life really is quite beautiful.


9 thoughts on “What does it mean to be married?

  1. I agree with you – BUT, do know that everything here in India seems to say “marriage is between two families.”

    But when it isn’t arranged, sometimes that two families thing seems to go away. Last week there was a very public case of a family BURNING THEIR DAUGHTER ALIVE because she chose to love and marry someone her parents didn’t approve of (because he was of a different caste). So, I wonder how it differs for some who follow a traditional caste-ish, top-down hierarchical mentality. Do they really believe marriage can work if “they” didn’t approve? Can they really be open to seeing a marriage of two families?

    • Well I tend to agree. The family dynamic in india can be quite strong. Hense the strong prevalence of arranged marriages. Its a case by case situation. Some can survive if the family does not approve but in many cases not. Societal power and pressure really are quite strong. In honesty I can not speak to that exsperince. Im marries an individual and his family comes with him, but him and I very much have our own relationship, I know that is not the case in many joined families. I really would love to hear that perapective

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