Cinderella Wedding

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?

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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.”

2 Comments

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2 responses to “Cinderella Wedding

  1. I find that I am more balanced as a person when I am married versus when I am not. Something to do with having a constant companion who helps you to look at your life with a slightly different perspective, in addition to personal obligations.

    “Ah,” you say, “but you could just get a roommate, and if you move to a new town, you get a new roommate.”

    This is true, but then you have less security. In cold economic terms, a loyal life companion will be there for you when you are sick, unemployed, etc. The trade-off is that, as a loyal life companion, you will have to be there for them in such circumstances.

    In business terms, this presents greater risk of familial obligations and certain restraints on the choices you can make, but it also reduces the risk of completely catastrophic disruption. Emotional obligation as insurance premium.

    In creative terms, constraints like a spouse who can not easily move to a new state / country can help provide some focus to what might otherwise be diffused creative passions.

    Its not for everyone, sure, but there are a lot of reasonable benefits to marriage in the modern context. I suspect that in a generation or two the governance model will be more along the lines of household / family covenants or such: a long-term legal entity with better-described obligations and contingencies.

    • Thanks for writing and happy belated Thanksgiving (if you celebrate). :)

      I agree with you wholeheartedly that there are certainly benefits to having a relationship, i.e. companionship, your “better half,” helping you define your passions, etc. What I’m trying to say is that you don’t actually have to get married to do any of those things.

      Marriage isn’t something I experienced myself, but lots of people I know say that things change once they got married, i.e. their view of the relationship and their life. I don’t really understand why that is so because technically marriage is a public and legal declaration that two people will be together. All the benefits (not talking tax implications or healthcare) are bestowed within the confines of a relationship, so what does marriage offer that a relationship doesn’t?

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