Every couple has different reasons to get married.
But why do people get married in the first place?
We asked experts to give us their insights.
Table of Contents
- Family pressure
- Men get married because of societal expectations
- Men get married for stable physical relations with a woman
- Many people get married because they are looking for someone to love them and complete them
- Many people get married because they feel complete and they want to share the love with a partner
- For legal and practical benefits
- They simply know that they’re meant to be together forever
- To seal commitment
- To make the relationship official
- Because they got pregnant
- It’s what you’re supposed to do
- Let’s talk about sex
- Better together financially
- Societal pressure
- Expression of love
- What people get when they marry is the buy-in and support of in-laws
- Many people today marry not just for love but also for the stability and certainty that it gives their lives
- People want to feel settled
- Most people are just accustomed to well-established norms and don’t want to change their mind
- Originally marriage was the protection of property rights
- Wealth is a sore topic for many, and marriage has been a method for accumulating and preserving it for thousands of years
Divorce Mediator | Consultant | Speaker | Transformative Wellness Coach |
Author, Better Apart: The Radically Positive Way to Separate
In America, we often assume people marry because they’re in love. They’ve found their soul-mate, their missing half. In my near twenty-five years working as a divorce attorney, coach, and mediator, I can tell you with reasonable certainty that the love connection is only a small part of the story.
People come together for a myriad of reasons. Here are some top reasons (other than love) and why they may be motivating.
People may marry for money for status, but often there’s an underlying need for security, stability, or comfort that is assumed to come with deep pockets. There’s also the on-going belief that money can buy happiness.
Being single can get old after a while. Especially after attending one-to-many weddings solo, a reasonably appropriate match may suddenly seem like prince charming.
For some people, it’s just time. For both single and divorced people, having a company with someone you have good chemistry with can relieve a state of loneliness or even desperation.
People have been marrying to secure citizenship for decades. While citizenship may be the motivator to tie the knot over time some of these relationships actually stand the test of time.
In many families, if you’re not married once that thirtieth birthday rolls the pressure to marry may accelerate. This can especially be the case for only children whose parents wish to be grandparents.
The fantasy of the happy ending, even in this modern world is still very real. Falling in love is easy. It’s been said that optimists get married because they believe everything will be great. On the other hand, pessimists remain married longer because they think there’s nothing better out there.
Dr. Jonathan Farley
Former Visiting Professor of Mathematics at Caltech | Former Science Fellow at Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Cooperation | Former Visiting Scholar in the Department of Mathematics at Harvard University
Men get married because of societal expectations
In decades past, a man who was 40 and unmarried was considered either to be playing for the other team or a rascal. Although the divorce rate skyrocketed in the 1970s, many men still think marriage lasts for a lifetime—because it used to for our parents and grandparents, our models.
But now the divorce rate is 50%. Men still haven’t caught on to that reality, but with the growth of the MGTOW movement, more and more men are waking up to the fact that marriage is now worthless for men in America. The marriage rate is already at a 100-year low.
Men get married for stable physical relations with a woman
Men also get married in order to have physical relations with a woman without the extreme effort required to find someone new every night or every few months.
But since the Sexual Revolution of the 1970s, American women give the milk away for free, and the median age at which they lose their virginity is 17, with the median age of first marriage now being 27, so men would be fools to buy a used car for the new car price.
More and more men realize that it is better to preserve their independence and money and attract women in their 20’s even if they (the men) are in their 40’s or 50’s than put up with a woman who wants your money but is unpleasant and occupying your house.
And with 15%-20% of marriages being “sexless,” according to Newsweek, it is indeed true that wedding cake kills the female libido.
Dr. Margaret Paul
Psychologist | Author | Relationship Expert | Co-creator, Inner Bonding
There are two very different reasons people get married – one unhealthy reason and one healthy reason.
The unhealthy reason:
Many people get married because they are looking for someone to love them and complete them
They believe another’s love will give them the self-worth and sense of security they are looking for, or that having children will give them a sense of purpose.
The problem with this reason is that their lack of self-worth, sense of security and sense of purpose in coming from self-abandonment – from judging themselves, from avoiding their feelings by staying focused in their mind rather than being present in their body with their feelings, from using various addictions to numb their feelings, and from making others responsible for their feelings.
They are avoiding responsibility for their feelings and hoping someone else will give them what they are not giving to themselves. But in avoiding this responsibility they are rejecting themselves and causing their own lack of self-worth, security, and sense of purpose. Someone else’s love can’t fix their rejection and abandonment of themselves.
Since we attract at our common level of self-love or self-abandonment, they will attract someone who is also trying to get love rather than share love. This creates an unhealthy co-dependent relationship where both partners end up feeling disappointed in the relationship.
The healthy reason:
When people have done their inner work and have learned how to love themselves rather than reject and abandon themselves, they feel a deep sense of self-worth, security, and purpose.
They feel complete within themselves and full of love, which they want to share with a partner and perhaps with children. They know that to have a happy marriage is to share the love – not the getting of love.
Dating Expert, Dating Scout
For legal and practical benefits
Marriage can provide some legal advantages that cohabitating partners don’t get to have. Of course, these perks aren’t supposed to be the only major driving force when it comes to deciding to tie the knot. However, there are some people that take these advantages into consideration as well.
Here are some of the perks of getting married: tax breaks, shared health care and social security, making it legal to live in the same country as your spouse.
They simply know that they’re meant to be together forever
Some people just know that they’re meant for each other. They know that they’ve found the one they want to spend the rest of their lives with. One cannot simply fully function fully without the help of the other as they complete each other’s shortcomings.
Some partners just know that they will reach their maximum potential when they decide to live their lives together.
To seal commitment
Some people choose to tie the knot because they believe that it is the ultimate form of commitment between couples. While some people do not believe that that it is a necessary milestone to prove your love to your partner, there are some people who hold on to it because of cultural and traditional reasons. Their idea of settling down is to get married and start a family of their own.
To make the relationship official
Some view marriage as sacred. People can place a big deal to marriage and see it as something permanent and deep. For them, the proper way of starting a new life as a couple is by tying the knot and making it official.
There are those whose religious practices compel them to get married. It is also a way to celebrate the love since marriage is the ultimate commitment that society recognizes.
Because they got pregnant
Some think that they need to be together because they have a child together. They think that a child should grow up with a complete family set up. However, it’s not all the time that the relationship would work.
But this is one of the reasons why some people decide to marry. They have responsibilities that compel them to stick together and become a team.
Certified Life Purpose Coach | Author, 70 Days of Happy: Life is Better When You Smile
It’s what you’re supposed to do
As people, many have been conditioned to believe that once you grow up, you go to college…get a good job, get married and raise a family. And while none of these things are negative suggestions, they may not be the best path for everyone.
Many times people think that marriage is the just the order of things…it’s just what happens after a relationship becomes serious, instead of it being a life commitment that you desire to have in your life.
Marriage shouldn’t be the “next” step life because of expectations. And it definitely shouldn’t be something anyone feels pressured into doing. Marriage works best when two people decide to be life partners who commit to growing and journeying through life as “one”.
Let’s talk about sex
Although not a popular decision, there are still some who believe that sex is created for the unity of marriage. Therefore, should they never marry, sex is completely off the table. Being celibate doesn’t take away the desire for sexual intimacy. Celibacy is an act of discipline and a choice that sex will no be a factor in a relationship.
Because waiting for sex can be difficult, some jump into marriage more quickly due to satisfy that urge.. And while waiting for sex is a good decision…if you make this the reason for marriage, you may be in for a rude awakening once deeper marital issues must be resolved.
When choosing to be celibate, be sure to create a realistic plan for those days that you may feel more sexually frustrated. Surround yourself with others who will remind you of your desire to “wait” when you don’t want to. And never allow sex to be the reason for walking into a life-long decision.
Better together financially
It doesn’t take a genius to know that the cost of living has made extremely difficult to “make ends meet”. Sometimes people get married to help ease the financial burden.
Being able to have an extra income, can assist in creating a better financial plan for better financial success in the future. Being able to share in expenses, medical coverage and even tax breaks are some financial benefits to being married. Therefore, some will decide to marry simply for the comfort of being financially satisfied.
Certified Mental Health Expert | Family Care Professional, Maple Holistics
This may be a big reason why many people get married. Most women know that the questions pile on once you are out of your twenties, “Are you dating? When will you get married? Do you want children?”. Questions like this can get exhausting, especially if they are coming from your family and people you interact with on a daily basis.
Every religion has a wedding ceremony of some sort. In many cases, religion adds to the societal pressure for people to get married and have kids.
Expression of love
When you truly love someone and want to express to them how much you love them, the entirety of your love for them, and your commitment to love them forever, the only logical thing to do is to marry that person. Express to them and everyone you know that you want to spend the rest of your life with that person.
Transitional Life Strategist
There are probably as many reasons as there are marriages! Traditional reasons still take the lead and love and having a family forms the essence of that, yet there are many other attributes to getting hitched. With thousands of friends on social media, as a culture, we have never been lonelier!
- Marriage is as much about friendship and someone to do things with as it is about waking up next to the love of your life. Getting married is the ultimate partnership allowing you to share intimately, but also mentally, emotionally and financially with another.
- People often get married to solidify a relationship that was born in running a business, and splitting costs in expensive cities is yet another way to make budgets work alongside companionship and happily ever after.
- Often, people get married because they feel they have to after a long courtship, or that culturally this is somehow required or expected. Sometimes, biological clocks sound loud alarms.
No matter what a couple’s reasons are for saying “I do” in order for that marriage to survive and thrive over time, it needs to be taken seriously, nurtured, respected and massaged. Both parties need to show up at 100%, there are no better 1/2’s or 50/50’s…no one can complete you besides you. Marriages that enable teamwork with both parties showing up complete are the ones that go the distance.
Margaret J. King, Ph.D.
Cultural Analyst | Director, The Center for Cultural Studies & Analysis
What people get when they marry is the buy-in and support of in-laws
What people get when they marry is far more than the two-person bond that seems fundamental to all our social relations. Beyond that duo bond, which is achievable without the benefit of marriage, is the buy-in and support of in-laws, as well as removing uncertainty for parents, friends, siblings, business colleagues, and the family fortune (inheritances).
People need the support of their relational networks as soon as they have children, a time when it’s all the more important to know who counts and who you can count on. And of course, when you divorce, you get “out-laws.”
Post-divorce relationships are densely complicated, which is why it has a negative reputation, well-earned, and couples generally attempt to fix their issues before that option is seriously considered.
Anita P. Stoudmire, MA, LPC
Owner & Founder, Better Love Movement
Many people today marry not just for love but also for the stability and certainty that it gives their lives
Statistics have shown that men who marry are healthier, live longer than their single counterparts and make more money. Women still marry to have a partner to raise a family with and for financial security. They enjoy having a “permanent date” to do things with and to attend events with.
For those folks who are faith-based, they still see marriage as something “required” by God and the church in order to fulfill a commandment that was given. There are lots of financial reason why people get married as well. Tax deductions, access to healthcare, and death benefits are all noted by many who are seeking marriage.
Rabbi Shlomo Slatkin
Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor | Certified Imago Relationship Therapist | Co-founder of The Marriage Restoration Project
People want to feel settled
There are many reasons why people get married. For many, marriage is a value or aspiration that they are looking to achieve. They want to create a family and a life partner and committing to marriage is the way to do it.
They don’t want to live the transitory life of a single. Being married allows them to get grounded and create a legacy to pass on to future generations. It also provides an opportunity for loyal companionship and an opportunity to build something together that one can’t do alone.
Wedding Writer, Wedding Forward
Marriage is just as approval of the church & license from the Government. Modern couples don’t need to get married at all. So, why do people in XXI century still want to have a ring and a stamp in the passport?
It’s a social construct that only check’s a box on the socially-visible “I’m normal” continuum, but really doesn’t provide any of the real-substance that we need for a good life.
Most people are just accustomed to well-established norms and don’t want to change their mind
Already from the childhood, girls are brought up in such a way that she should get married, and if she did not get out by 20, then she is already old and not needed by anyone. Laying the wrong judgments about marriage and about men in general.
Originally marriage was the protection of property rights
“Marriage was once considered the most legitimate way to be in a relationship, to have sex, and to have a family,” Kristin Celello, Ph.D., Associate Professor of History and Director of the American Studies Program at Queens College CUNY. But nothing can make your relationship stronger than the feeling of commitment and responsibility for another person.
Dr. Celello says. “Marriage is still important, it hasn’t gone away, but there are now other legitimate ways to make families and be in relationships.” That social and cultural change is in large part thanks to the feminist movement.
There are some most common reasons people are getting married:
- for same-sex couples, marriage can be a safety measure;
- health care coverage;
- marriage makes it possible to legally live in the same country;
- to provide security for children;
- for legal status and financial security;
- for religious beliefs;
In the end, it does not matter what purpose you are pursuing. It is important to realize all the responsibility for your choice.
Wealth is a sore topic for many, and marriage has been a method for accumulating and preserving it for thousands of years
The financial principle is sound, if unromantic. Many Americans today depend on a two-income household to support their lifestyle.
Does this reason for marrying your partner sound harsh? Maybe. But it’s no different than providing a dowry for your daughter, or buying a wife for five cows as they do in other cultures. By taking on a partner in the game of life, we share the burden and the triumphs as well as the failures.
Is our culture of marriage for tax reasons, sharing a burden, and ensuring the financial stability of the next generation so different? Not when you look at the facts: with inflated housing costs across the US and materialism on the rise, financial support is just one more reason to say “I do”.