I always have this basic question about marriage. Should we get married? Why? Defensive and old fashioned people answer my question with: “why not?” or in order to deflect, they attack me with another question like “why are you asking this?” or even worse “why so bitter? Are you mad at your ex? What he did?”
Come on, people. If you’re so sure of yourself, why don’t you just answer my question?
Okay, I mean, give me any other answer than just “because that’s the way it is” or “because we have to”.
So, I've made a short list of common answer from people who actually answer the question.
1. You don’t want to die alone
Ok. The most answer I get is about the fear of loneliness. People say that living alone is so scary from so many levels: how to deal with yourself, how to deal with society, even how to deal with death if you’re alone.
First of all, why do you even think that with marriage you’re NOT dying alone? Everybody dies alone. Again, alone. Nobody can give you a company when you’re facing the end of your life. Maybe sitting next to your bed-of-agony, yes, but in your real journey to whatever it is in the other side, man, you’re fucking alone.
2. You don’t want to lose the love of your life
Ok. Ok, people. Love? I always lost it when it comes to this word, love. Let’s just put it to a more tangible noun like, um, commitment for instance. People argue that when they have found this special one, they really have to tie them on a certain institutional act (read: marriage) to seal their shared and blessed feeling into something real. This, they say, also a legal proof of their serious attempt of embracing commitment.
Now answer me, can two people be happy together forever? (Ok, here forever is a tricky time frame, because we will never know how long forever is, so let’s just switch forever to the common pretty time frame “till death do them part”) (And by the way people, you already know “death do you part”, right? So what’s with not-dying-alone argument above? Ugh. This is contradictory, you know) *yawn*
Do you really be able to be faithful, be one-man-person, and don’t have to try so hard or forced to be united by a piece of paper called marriage documents? I've known so many broken families, I also witness husband/wife’s unfaithfulness, and then I know this one catholic couple that still together only because the church regulations say they can’t be divorced.
I believe in logic, I believe in passion, I believe in admiration. But when it has to be one and only, absolute healthy relationship, how many people in this earth that can actually get the concept done? Dead end couples, busy struggling just to make it works.
I admit that I’m in the dark when it comes to relationship matter. Of course I want it exclusive, I hate cheating because in my opinion it is another form of cowardice and selfishness. But still.....this couple concept can be so ugly.
3. You want to have children
This lonesome-argument also applied to the children matter. People say they want to get married so that they can have children, then they don’t have to be lonely. Let me tell you a story. There is this family of five. The mom and the dad got married because they wanted children, and they didn't give so much attention at their relationship as a couple. So there it was, three children popped to the earth.
In their early years of marriage, their house was so crowded, sometimes even frustratingly crowded. This couple was busy and happy with this tiny little creature running around their house. When school days came, again this couple was busy and excited. But what happened when the college days has finally came or even over? These three children left their parent’s house; start to try to make their own living. What’s happening? The house of five is now empty. So? Lonely much, there?
Then sometimes worse situation come to the scene: they try to control (read: love) their children; because they devoted their whole life to this children, and because they don’t know how to live on their own as a couple.
And beside, people, people... the world is already full of you people.
Another argument I find regarding this descendant matter: it’s the repercussion of existence. This friend of mine said that he wants to have children because he needs to have a legacy, someone to pass his insight to. He thinks that it is too bad for one being, not be able to continue “living” once one is dead.
I don’t really get the concept then I asked, “Why?” I mean, why trying so hard to continue living? For me it doesn't matter once you don’t witness any of it. Then he said, that is the needs of human, to be existed through things. And here I am at the end of the topic, I still cannot understand.
But anyway, I still find the personal existence is more reasonable than the desire to preserve family name, though.
Whatever it is, I don’t see the need to have children. The final breath will be my closure of all worry and misery; I don’t want to feel the need of attachment to the world. Cremate my body and spread the ashes to the sea, or donate my body for the contribution of science development, then at least there’s some use of it. I don’t care whether my genes stay living and running around or my name declared as the name of the road. I don’t care; let me peacefully vanished.
*beside, back to never ending question: do these children asked to be born anyway?*
4. Maturity: get on with your life, hence you get married.
Stages, step, forward. We need to maintain improvement because why else we stay alive. But some people interpret moving forward as marriage, or the other way around.
I have this friend, so excited about getting married because it is them stepping forward in life. My friend has no job, hasn't finished study, so does his girlfriend. They don’t care about career or education or any other self-improvement. For them, working is not a case of self-proclamation to the evolving world and to the life itself, but only as a tool to gain money. No matter what kind of job they will have, it is okay, as long as the job can provide facilities.
For me, that is the attitude of escaping maturity pressure, fleeing the moving-forward tendency. It is always easier to follow what society say about step of life, than really measuring yourself in the seeking of the meaning of life.
5. Pressure from parents and society “the cat lady”
Have you heard of “the cat lady” expression? Sure. The unmarried lady that is so lonely, she has to live with her cats to has company. Now, have you heard about “the cat man”? Nope.
Again, my apologies to bore you with gender perspective. But it is true that our society still put different burden toward men and women in case of marriage. My dad once said, “Don’t be so harsh on people; the disadvantage will be at your end because you’re female.” Ah, damn it dad.
So there’s of course some women who put this pressure as their reason to get married. OK, if it’s for the sake of your parents’ happiness, or their security, or their standard of a good life, I can understand. But I have one question for you: isn't it sad?
Please make sure at least this is not your ONLY reason.
6. Regular amount of sex
This is a pathetic reason to get married. Beside, you guys should argue on the “regular” term. It is of course depends on each couple, but many studies has agreed that the fire won’t stay forever. So many couples are struggling with their sexual issues and being married are apparently not the solution.
So people, do you consider sex as decoration in your relationship, or is it the ultimate core? Do you honestly want to put a once in a lifetime decision in something that is so dependent on hormones? People, people. *face palm*
7. Regarding marriage as a financial adjustment
This answer usually comes from people who want to rationalize their statement. These people often ready to open a discussion, so much fun than those “deflecting insecure people”.
Well, I dig up some tiny research on how marriage or our sexual culture in general, affects our life financially. (Here sexual culture for example: single-parent, cohabiting parents, divorced, step family, never married, etc). Then apparently, according one of research institute in US, there exist a “Marriage Premium”.
The “marriage premium” is the name economists give to the increase in husbands’ productivity and earnings caused by their entering marriage. One study claims that married men make, on average, almost 30 percent more than their non- married counterparts in hourly wages. In accord with this, from a study which controlled for all factors, including genetics, puts the marriage premium at 27 percent.
Marriage increases earnings for white men by approximately 24 percent and for black men by approximately 20 percent. Twice as many (32 percent) married fathers worked 45 hours or more per week in 1997, compared to cohabiting fathers (16 percent).
So it is true that marriage does drive people’s eagerness to make a better living. The existence of other people in the family, especially those relies on us, will push the need of adequate income. (But frankly I haven’t dig a deeper research, so I am using this point solely as a background. And this makes sense though.)
But on the other hand, again in a gender perspective, I also want to quote a part of this research involving a wife’s contribution in the family. In the contrary of how marriage affecting men’s consciousness of their income, women’s contribution to financially sustain their family put a higher risk of divorce.
A Canadian study found that divorce rates increase as married women’s income approaches that of their husbands, and accelerate further when women’s income surpasses that of their husbands. For each additional $1,000 increase in wives’ income, the chances of divorce increase 3 percent.
(more of this research here)
So people, whatever the chances are, marriage does affecting your financial adjustment. BUT, do you really want to raise this argument in your interest in marriage? Doesn't it make your marriage sounds like a business plan? Well, I’m just saying.
8. You want to have someone to come home to
Among all those reasons, both the logical and the romantic, this is maybe the most acceptable background for me. We can’t carry on alone, for the rest or our life; or at least, I can’t imagine that I’m capable of it. (This may also the same reason for the concept of God, or whatever higher authority in the universe). No matter how strong we are or we think we are, there always a point, the lowest point, that we need something to hold on to. Pop song version of this concept is “a shoulder to cry on”.
There is this guy in his late 30s, finally remarried, after his first failed marriage. I was shocked by this second marriage, because this guy once stated that he’ll never remarry, because he found out the marital concept wasn't for him, et cetera. When I asked why, he answered: “because I find someone I want to grow old with?” Yes, that was his exact answer, with that exact question mark.
He was actually my kind of role model for marital concept. He’s there in that age, and beside, he was once experienced failed marriage. I mean, people always say that I’m way too young to have such a strong statement about marriage. Some of my happen-to-be-much-older friends always say “ah, you’re way too young. You’ll obviously think differently when you’re 5 years older.” Or even more intense statement like, “don’t get dragged to relish your youth too much, you’ll run out of it. When it’s too late, it’s too late.”
Then I come to my conclusion that it is maybe inescapable. It's too hard for us to walk the stony path of life without a hand to hold. And I agree that holding a stable hand is more soothing.
Well, maybe I am just too afraid that my expectations may exceed reality.
NB: This is a note from a twenty-something girl who still needs more time to settling down thoughts. I am in a journey of quests, fully open to any theory. As this expression may represent the whole thing I’m doing: I am now cultivating consciousness.