Contemplating Divorce

Whether you should stay or go

Why Did You Get Married?

Would you marry the same person or for the same reasons today?

A friend asked me a couple of years back why I got married. My husband and I are both older, we weren't intending to have children, we were independent financially and I'd bought my own dishes, cookware and linens years before. We didn't have to get married.

I told her that it was a statement about our love and commitment to each other, which it was, but being really honest, there was also the societal pressure that was very real. If marriage wasn't such a "must" for adults in our culture, would I have been so compelled to get married? Would a commitment ceremony have been enough?

And why are gays around the world so hopped up about being excluded from this legal contract?

Then it hit me. Along with the outside social influences that are very real, there are legal and financial rewards for being married. We are covertly encouraged by the laws of the land to wed.

There are perks such as insurance coverage, tax benefits, "family plans" for phones, health clubs and other memberships. 

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What was once started as a way to increase the chances of human survival and for procreation now occurs to fulfill love and esteem. The financial benefits also help an average married couple get ahead faster and easier than an average single person.

For some, marriage is still a must-do before having children but by and large, we don't have the same cultural pressures to tie the knot in order to have "legitimate" children.

Although it is taboo to marry for any other reason than for love, some of the other reasons I have heard people say they marry include to be financially secure, to raise children with a specific person who they knew "would be a good parent," as a perceived rite of passage into adulthood, to alleviate the family pressure, and to avoid being alone or lonely.

In the Western world, we don't impose arranged marriages on people but we still do see some marrying not necessarily for love, but for shared religion, culture or language.

Here are some though-provoking questions to ask yourself about why you got married. 

Why did you get married?

Did your marriage fulfill those reasons or needs?

If you are contemplating divorce or if you have already gotten a divorce, what role did your reason for marrying play in your decision to stay or go (i.e. I wanted to have children but she didn't so we divorced or we wanted to have children and we are staying together for the children)?

If you were in a position to marry today, how different would your reasons be for getting married?

Did any of your answers surprise you? 

If you are moved to share any of these answers with us, please feel free to in the comment section.

Susan Pease Gadoua, L.C.S.W., is the author of Contemplating Divorce and Stronger Day by Day.

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