There are some really good, compelling reasons to get married, from the practical (insurance, tax breaks, etc.) to the values-driven (like I value changing and learning with this person and being there for them for the rest of my life). But there are also some bad reasons to get married. Truly terrible reasons that people get married all the time. Which is probably why our divorce rate is so high. Here are seven of the worst reasons we can think of to enter into marriage:
1. Everybody’s doing it
The social pressure to get married heats up whenever you start seeing engagement photos on social media. At first it may seem like a curiosity—can you believe she’s getting married so young?—but soon, it snowballs, and before you know it, seeing the sparkly evidence of other people’s relationship status feels like a daily occurrence and suddenly you wonder if you’re the curiosity.
Social media can make you feel like everyone but you is getting married. But this is inaccurate. People don’t post photos announcing that they’re not engaged. It’s kind of like how people think a lot more planes crash than actually do because they remember the headlines about plane crashes, but there are no headlines about all the planes that don’t crash. Also, even if literally everyone IS getting married, what does that have to do with you and your relationship?
2. You want to have a big party
Parties are fine and even sometimes fun, but marriage is definitely not about a day. It’s the opposite of a day. It’s the rest of your life, every day, all the time, even when you don’t feel like it. It’s serious. And hopefully it’s sometimes fun too, but, truly, weddings couldn’t have less to do with marriage.
3. Your family is driving you nuts
Family pressure is a special brand of social pressure that is much, MUCH harder to ignore. Our advice? Prepare some responses in advance that you can use when this comes up. These could be anything from acting like you didn’t hear the person to casually changing the subject to straight up saying, “I’m not going to discuss this”—whatever works for you. It’s okay to have boundaries with your family.
4. You think you’ve been together “too long” to not be married
You haven’t. Some people never get married, and it’s not because there’s anything wrong. They just don’t want to get married, and that’s fine! There’s no such thing as an external clock that can tell you when to do anything with your life. If there are issues you want to work on in your relationship, that’s great, but just the fact of not being married doesn’t have to be one of them.
5. You think it’ll fix the problems in your relationship
It definitely won’t!
6. You recently had a big birthday
So…birthdays are great and everything—who doesn’t love cake and having an excuse to play hooky from work?—but they can also create a lot of anxiety, especially big birthdays. It doesn’t help that the pressure to get married intensifies around age 30 (or earlier depending on where you live), reaches a fever pitch in the run-up to turning 35, and has the quality of a baby with colic screaming in your ear and dripping tears and snot down your neck—impossible to ignore and extremely, extremely unpleasant—from 35 on.
If you’ve ever been overwhelmed by a sense of “what have I even accomplished in my life so far” or “I’m so behind” or “I thought by this age I’d own my own company or at least be married with kids” on or around your birthday, you’re not alone. But existential dread and a growing awareness of your own mortality are not reasons to get married. Marriage is a commitment to work hard and be vulnerable forever, not something you can just check off a list.
7. You want a sparkly ring
Great! Go buy yourself a sparkly ring.