I’m at the ripe age of 27 and everyone around me seems to be getting engaged and married. Especially for my friends, I’m genuinely happy for them- including the fact that I get to put on a fancy party dress and attend all these fabulous weddings.
That being said, I’m wondering what’s exactly is the point of marriage?
During my MBA, I’ve been taking a rather interesting class called Opportunity Identification by John Doggett (he recently kicked butt on a CNN interview). In class, Doggett compares entrepreneurship and starting a business to relationships. In both cases, you dedicate your soul and emotions into making the start up a success or the relationship work. Trust is paramount in both a business partnership and a marriage. You end up spending an incredible amount of time together. But businesses and marriages alike fail. More often than not, in fact.
It’s one thing to fall in love and want to share your life and create life with someone. It’s another thing all together to merge assets, figure out what you want out of life (career, relationships, families) versus what the other person wants, and spend 50+ years with the same person day in and day out. Sure, just because there’s a huge risk doesn’t mean the risk isn’t worth taking. But thinking you’ll spend the rest of your life with someone doesn’t mean that it’ll happen.
Professionals switch jobs and more importantly locations and ambitions more and more. Relationships that work for one year or one decade may not work in another. Babies get made whether there’s a marriage license in the picture or not.
As we continue to be more connected and transitory, people can afford to support themselves, and the western world is becoming more individualistic than ever, will we still need the institute of marriage?
Okay, maybe this is my cynicism and spinsterhood coming out. Maybe when I do fall in love, I’ll dream of having the Cinderella wedding with a big puffy dress and all that crap. But I don’t think my line of questioning is wrong. Relationships and marriages with just love doesn’t work. There’s has to be companionship, similar goals in life, and a willingness to make adjustments and sacrifices. That doesn’t happen very often, and even if something works in one moment, time increases the chances that all of those things between two people won’t stay aligned. While there is a lot of amazing experiences to be derived from a relationship, marriage is a formality. The merger of families and assets will need to get redivided in a divorce. A ring on a finger doesn’t prevent cheating, for males or females. Children live more and more in non-nuclear, complicated family constructs.
So let’s forget about the marriage. Have a “wedding” to celebrate your love but not a marriage. Let’s not say “to death to us part” when we mean “for the time being.”