First Comes Love. Then Comes Marriage?
It is better to be married or single? Are there any advantages to getting married, versus settling for a cohabiting/committed relationship? These are all great questions, but to answer them best, let’s travel back to where it all started.
There once was a big bang—and then the canyon filled with bright stars and a few birdies. Finally, there was darkness. Moments later, the cave woman regained consciousness. She soon realized she had just been deemed worthy of marriage by the hulking hunk from cave 208, and she was being dragged to her honeymoon destination.
Marriage has had a long and interesting history. In its farthest origins, it was an effective means to create an alliance with another family. It was used to build power and wealth, and unfortunately had very little to do with love and intimacy. In fact, until the last century,love and sexual attraction never entered into the definition of what a marriage should consist of.
The idea of equality wasn’t even a factor until somewhere in the last 50 years. However, if you consider alternative lifestyle marriages, some would say that we are only just beginning to understand what equality is. Yes, marriage has been around a long time, and there are those who covet its tradition and roots, while there are those who deem it unnecessary in a modern world.
A lot of research has been done to demonstrate how marriage affects society. There have been some interesting findings over the years, beginning with some early work which suggested that marriage helped couples live longer and healthier lives, provided a basis for commitment, more wealth (Yes, some things never change.) and happier children.
As you can imagine, a lot of this early research has been challenged. Early studies demonstrated that a man’s testosterone decreased significantly after marriage. This was one of the driving forces used to suggest that marriage had the ability to improve a man’s compassion, fathering ability and commitment to his partner. However, cohabitation provides the same results. In fact, in a study by Cornell University it was suggested that cohabiting couples may even have a more happily-ever- after, as their happiness appears to have less of a dwindling effect than your average married couple.
Marriage is not the magical elixir to health and wellness that researchers once claimed.
What appears to be is finding your own version of happy and setting your sails to accomplish those goals. It is not always a good idea to settle, especially if the one you are settling for does not have the capability to be respectful and faithful to you. Not being true to yourself, your needs and failing to wait for the right partner all effect the quality of your life.
In a sense, marriage with paper, or cohabitation without is not much different than celebrating your birthday with a TV dinner and your favorite show, or a party with the family. What it comes down to is choice. Some people want to signify their union with a ceremony, while others do not feel it is necessary. The biggest conclusions we can come to is that people need each other. There are not many true loners who can walk through life without the touch of another human being, whether it’s through friendship, companionship or romance. It is also incredibly important to make the right choice in a lifetime partner. Perhaps, it’s better to ask yourself if a good, long-term relationship matters to you and if it does, what are you currently doing to get one?
When it comes to the difference between marriage and singlehood, we can pretty much conclude that those who are single but would rather be in a partnership suffer greatly. Divorced and widowed partners face the greatest consequences of marriage, compared to those who have made the choice to stay single.