Today there was a segment on the radio where a listener phoned in and said she never wanted to get married. I’ve got girlfriends who say the same thing today, and friends who said it in the past but were then proposed to and said yes. So what is it about marriage that scares the bejeepers out of us? Or are we absorbing the hate towards marriage off others and mistaking it for our own? Or is it that we are saying never, but just meaning not right now?
My case is a little mixture of the two. My parents divorced when I was very young, and for many years I only heard negative things about marriage. Growing up it would have been difficult for me to think any other way, as I only knew the crappy side to saying “I do”. So it was no wonder getting married was the last thing I wanted, but I can’t say the beliefs were entirely mine. As a kid, I hated having divorced parents, being played off between the two of them and getting caught in their slanging matches. I said I would never get married, and also never have kids to stop them having to go through what I did.
Over the years, I learnt an important lesson. We are not our parents, and our intimate relationships are not the same as theirs. Just because their marriage didn’t work out does not mean the same is in store for us. But I had to learn the positive sides to marriage, through exposure to functional couples and through seeing that fights don’t have to equal divorce. I then had to let go of my fear.
Fear is another reason I believe people avoid marriage. It’s actually the reason people avoid a lot of things without knowing what’s really stopping them. Fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of abandonment; all very potent feelings that cause people (whether consciously or subconsciously)to run from marriage. Isn’t it a better idea to work through these fears, in a logical and realistic fashion to stop them ruling your life and the decisions you make?
Fear can also be an indicator as to how important something is to us, so what is it about marriage that is so meaningful? And with laws now acknowledging the rights of de facto couples, is there any point in getting married if you already have a mortgage/kids together? Is it really just a piece of paper? There is a wealth of research out there in scholarly land suggesting that married couples have better physical health, earn more money (not just because there are two incomes, but they receive more promotions and end up in higher paid positions) and their children also benefit with improved well being.
My opinion is it’s more than a piece of paper. By going through the motions of a wedding ceremony, by committing your life to one person in front of your closest family and friends, you are creating new beliefs and rules in your mind. It cements a deep bond that I don’t think you can otherwise obtain. It can be the ultimate way to show your partner how much you love them. It can give you security, comfort and a sense of purpose. It can give you the strength to work through the hard times as it makes walking out on each other more difficult. It can give you hope. And it can provide your children with all of the above too, as well as a belief in love and relationships.
Now I’m not preaching that everyone in a relationship should run out and get married. Nor am I suggesting that couples who choose not to get married are in any less of a loving and caring relationship than married couples. But for those of you saying no to marriage, please question why that is. Is there a little voice telling you that you’re afraid? Or is there someone else’s voice in your head telling you not to? There is nothing wrong with choosing not to get married, as long as the decision is made for the right reasons. Make sure the decision is solely yours, and not based on irrational fear.
I’d love to hear comments from you on how you overcame your fear to marriage, or if I’ve inspired you to look deeper into the reason you don’t want to get married. Remember, this is all about being honest with yourself!