Disclaimer: Do let me know if you have other opinion after reading this. Would love to hear your point of view. It’s such a touchy subject. I’m sure married or single people will have different opinions on this matter. I’m writing this based on what I’ve heard and read, not from my own experience. I‘d fill you in with some of the quotes I extracted from Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Committed. She used to be a skeptic of the marriage institution and refer to the book as her way to convince herself otherwise. I’ve read the book and found it quite a revelation, with all her thorough research on how marriage has evolved throughout the different eras and how it is defined by various religious views.
First, before we get to the answer of why people get married, here’s my take on all the WRONG reasons to get married.
You get married…
NOT because everyone else is getting married. Life is filled with uncertainties, and that includes single life, married life, any kind of life you choose to live in. So the same goes for marriage and having your own kids. I believe that everyone has different timeline. You can’t be waiting for the day when you feel 100% sure that you want to tie the knot and bring new life to this world. That day will never come. If I could just pick a random %, I’d say if you’re at least 80% sure that your current romantic partner is the one that you should marry based on how you feel throughout your relationship (the length of relationship is not the most important factor), then go ahead and marry the love of your life. The 80% that consist of what you’ve built so far: respect, love, trust, intimacy, loyalty; from practical point of view, readiness to merge your assets and finances with a binding contract. If both of you don’t feel that 80% yet, it’s wiser to not blindly follow the crowd or succumb to parent & peer pressure. You shouldn’t marry whomever available by your side either. That’s a recipe for disaster and suffering. Eventually, after the marriage, both husband and wife still need to cultivate the remaining 20% every single day. It’ll be discussed below. So keep on reading!
“It’s the same with relationships, I think. People always fall in love with the most perfect aspects of each other’s personalities. Who wouldn’t? Anybody can love the most wonderful parts of another person. But that’s not the clever trick. The really clever trick is this: Can you accept the flaws? Can you look at your partner’s faults honestly and say, ‘I can work around that. I can make something out of that.’? Because the good stuff is always going to be there, and it’s always going to be pretty and sparkly, but the crap underneath can ruin you.” ― Elizabeth Gilbert, Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage
You get married…
NOT because you WANT to have an easier time-saving money for your first house, aiming for public housing (BTO/resale flats) just because you can’t afford the private ones with your income alone (read here for the difference of public and private housing in Singapore)
“The Buddha referred to married people as “householders.” He even gave clear instructions as to how one should be a good householder: Be nice to your spouse, be honest, be faithful, give alms to the poor, buy some insurance against fire and flood . . . I’m dead serious: The Buddha literally advised married couples to buy property insurance.” ― Elizabeth Gilbert, Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage
You get married…
(if you’re a lady) NOT because your biological clock is ticking and you love children so much that you want to have your own. If you’re too old, your eggs may not be of a good quality to pro-create and produce healthy babies. Hence, you NEED to go through a common route with the society’s approval, that’s called Marriage. By following the social norm, you’ll be able to pro-create as many as you want without people sneering and jeering at you. No cohabitation, casual sex and children born out-of-wedlock. That’s the society’s unwritten rule (especially in Asian culture). Nowadays, with various fertility treatment, you can still get pregnant and give birth to healthy children even in your 40s. And even without getting married or having a sex partner, you can still have kids (read about a guy who fathered 34 children through sperm donation here). Despite all these, there are bigger questions you need to ask yourself:
Are you ready to bear the huge responsibility of bringing a new life out to this big messy world? (at least 80% ready)
Are you ready to embark on the new journey of bringing up the little-being to a mature adult? (at least 80% ready)
“Every healthy marriage is composed of walls and windows. The windows are the aspects of your relationship that are open to the world—that is, the necessary gaps through which you interact with family and friends; the walls are the barriers of trust behind which you guard the most intimate secrets of your marriage.” ― Elizabeth Gilbert, Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage
You get married…
NOT because you WANT someone to accompany you when you’re old. Your spouse may die before you and you’ll be left alone anyway. Your kids may be too busy with their own life that you’ll probably be left alone in an elderly home most of the time. You can play with your grand kids once in a while but they will eventually drift away when they get older. You’ll be too old and weak to play with them. We will all die in the end. But maybe those who are dying while being surrounded by their family, children and grandchildren, will have less regrets than those who chose to live their life unmarried? Well, who knows? Maybe those single unmarried spinsters/bachelors might have done something great in their life, be so inspirational and have lived their life to the fullest that they will ALSO be surrounded by their beloved friends, nephews, nieces, brothers, sisters, neighbors and the community when they’re dying. They would ALSO die with no regrets. So if marriage is not about having a life-time companion, what is it for?
I used to think that the last point above is the reason why people get married. But one day, when I attended my good friend’s wedding, I heard these 3 reasons and they kind of stuck with me this whole time. So I decided to share it here:
Why do you get married? The 3 simple reasons.
1) Because of your permanent COMMITMENT to each other. Marriage should be “the point of no return”. You don’t marry each other with a divorce as your exit plan when things go bad. You fix it. Because marriage is not only the union between man and wife but also a union between two families. It’s about the commitment to cultivate the remaining 20%: making compromises, not taking anything for granted, being loyal to each other and many other little things.
“Marriage is what happens “between the memorable.” He said that we often look back on our marriages years later, perhaps after one spouse has died, and all we can recall are “the vacations, and emergencies” – the high points and low points. The rest of it blends into a blurry sort of daily sameness. But it is that very blurred sameness, the poet argues, that comprises marriage. Marriage is those two thousand indistinguishable conversations, chatted over two thousand indistinguishable breakfasts, where intimacy turns like a slow wheel. How do you measure the worth of becoming that familiar to somebody so utterly well-known and so thoroughly ever-present, that you become an almost invisible necessity, like air?” ― Elizabeth Gilbert, Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage
2) Because of LOVE. And in marriage, it’s the mature kind of love. It’s not about looking at each other, but it’s about looking at your future life together.
3) Because you want to SHARE your WHOLE LIFE with him/her. Both of you are focused on giving care and attention to each other until the day death do you apart.
“Real, sane, mature love—the kind that pays the mortgage year after year and picks up the kids after school—is not based on infatuation but on affection and respect.” ― Elizabeth Gilbert, Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage
I will end this post (that looks more like Liz Gilbert’s book synopsis:p) with another quote.
It’s the last piece of food for thought, especially for all the single women out there.
Choose wisely and we shall not suffer. If you haven’t found a good one yet, don’t settle for less!
“The cold ugly fact is that marriage does not benefit women as much as it benefits men. From studies, married men perform dazzlingly better in life, live longer, accumulate more, excel at careers, report to be happier, less likely to die from a violent death, suffer less from alcoholism, drug abuse, and depression than single man…The reverse is not true. In fact, every fact is reverse, single women fare much better than married women. On average, married women take a 7% pay cut. All of this adds up to what Sociologists called the “Marriage Benefit Imbalance”…It is important to pause here and inspect why so many women long for it (marriage) so deeply.” ― Elizabeth Gilbert, Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage
*Some articles as a reminder:
for husband – 7 keys to a happy wife
for wife – 10 marriage tips every wife needs to hear