Who Is Marriage For?

This post has been all over the place. I am grateful for this response that was published, although it doesn’t capture my feelings and thoughts.

Who is marriage for? Is it for you? For you partner? For your future family? What if you don’t want to raise children?

“Getting married” is, to me, a distinct issue from being in a long-term, committed relationship. When we talk about the actual act of “getting married” we are talking about a legal and financial agreement. However, I am aware that in the popular lexicon, “getting married” means making the final, absolute decision to remain with one partner f-o-r-e-v-e-r. No wonder Seth and pcrowling were freaked out before they had their respective weddings: committing (monogamously) to one person for the rest of your life is a freaky decision.

Being in a relationship, of any flavor, should be a balance between your needs and desires and personality and those of your partner. That being said, people are entitled to make certain sacrifices if that is how they feel they should ethically operate within a relationship (Seth, for example, found solace in thinking about getting married for his wife and future family). My big caveat is: as long as those who are sacrificing are intentional about their decisions and don’t blame their partners for the sacrifices they have made. (Don’t be a martyr!)

It just so happens that my latest DatingAdvice post went live today: Can You Have Marriage & Kids in an Open Relationship? Here is a snippet; be sure to go read it!:

“How does marriage fit with an open relationship? What about having kids? Do I want those things?

Legal marriage is, to me, just that: a legal document dictating a financial agreement with a partner.

Therefore, getting legally married is a financial arrangement and agreement and can overlap with any relationship structure, given it is between two people (and in many states still, two straight people).

Legal marriage is not allowed between more than two people in any states.

This part is less important in my relationship.

While we both see the practical benefits of getting legally married (and so we probably will soon), it is less important than being clear on our other relationship agreements and maintaining transparency, trust, communication and commitment to one another.

We know many people who are married and have open relationships, and their reasons for getting married ranged from the practical, financial and legal benefits, to the practicalities of raising children together, to the symbol of being in a long-term and loving relationship.”

2 thoughts on “Who Is Marriage For?

  1. I feel very much the same feelings you do in marriage! I’m seeing this article pop up so much on my facebook feed and it comes off so… icky. I wish I could conjure a more intelligent word than that but it just does. I feel that its meant to reaffirm christian guilt and doesn’t promote active communication towards one’s relationship. As a somewhat newlywed, I may come off as a bit naive, but I feel that when it comes to marriage, you create your marriage together as a couple what you make of it, which becomes your unique social contract to each other. The closest idea to that article I agreed with in relation to the marriage not being about you is the celebration of getting married itself. I personally feel that when you celebrate getting married you do do it for everyone else but yourself, because essentially that’s what everyone is there for (to celebrate the couple) so you as a couple are hosts to entertain your guests in the celebration of your commitment to each other.

    I don’t necessarily disagree that “committing (monogamously) to one person for the rest of your life is a freaky decision” but I feel that creating vows/a celebration/and possibly a legal commitment is a big thing. I think one source for that fear monogamous or not, is the idea of it failing. No one likes the idea of a friendship/relationship to end, and to create a ceremonious commitment is comparable to setting an official beginning of something, which sets yourselves up for the unknown way it will end. I imagine we’d all like our relationships to end with death, so the idea of it ending in a ugly mess is scary, especially with the loose statistics of divorce in this country. Do you think couples, triads etc… should create an “end” commitment in their vows? Would an emotional pre nuptial or post nuptial make the relationship stronger? I feel that theoretically it does but its not a pleasant thing to think about and is definitely not built in our cultural customs. It would definitely be learn custom that would take years of pre societal “norms” to evolve out of.

  2. Thank you Theo for your super thoughtful response. I completely agree with your sentiment that the idea of failing makes many people afraid.
    I think the idea of an “emotional prenup” would be quite admirable. Even talking about the possibility of a relationship not lasting for life can serve people in separating from each other a bit emotionally, retaining some sense of independence and autonomy, and also help facilitate some honest discussions about what each person wants. This also reminds me of the idea of termination in therapy, and how in therapy, it is common to prepare for the end of the therapeutic relationship. How wonderful it would be if we were able to say goodbye to partners over the course of a month or year in preparation of breaking off a relationship…

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