Okay, so maybe there are worse reasons than the ones below. Like getting hitched because you like the way his last name sounds with your first. Or saying “I do” because you’ve always wanted a Vegas bachelor party a la The Hangover. Or going to a friend’s bachelor/bachelorette party and getting so drunk that you wake up wedded to the hired emm…help. Or signing up for some reality show where you agree to marry a stranger and then allow cameras to follow your every move.
Those would all be pretty bad.
But so are these. And they are much more prevalent and much more subtle.
I Don’t Want to Start Over
In a conversation about her one-year relationship, a friend mentioned that she hopes they will end up progressing to marriage because she “doesn’t want to start all over again.” I get it. Relationships aren’t easy and finding and cultivating one that lasts past the early treacherous stages can be difficult. It’s frustrating and depressing when a relationship falls apart before it reaches the altar (assuming, of course, that marriage is what both partners ultimately want), but a reticence for re-entering the dating scene is no reason to get married. In fact, most likely all you’re doing is delaying your trip back to the dating scene. Only this time with a (or another) failed marriage under your belt. No relationship is ever wasted. Learn from the failed ones and apply that knowledge to the next.
It’s the Next Logical Step
Well, we dated for a year. And then we rented an apartment for another year. And then we bought a dog together. Isn’t a wedding registry the next logical step? Maybe. But maybe not. Sometimes we get so caught up in the “right” or “normal” way of doing things that we turn on autopilot and forget we have a choice. It’s easier to slide in than take a stand. Simpler to avoid conflict or confusion and just follow the well-tred path. But research shows that this pattern leads to a higher likelihood of divorce. Most likely when one partner wakes up five years later and wonders, “How in the world did I end up here?”
I Don’t Want to be Alone
Nobody does. But being married (or having a kid) is no guarantee that you won’t be alone. In fact, feeling isolated and misunderstood is even more painful when you’re with someone. If you enter into marriage with a fear of abandonment, you will cultivate an insecure attachment with your spouse. And if your panicky grasping ways send your partner either literally or metaphorically running, you’ve just fulfilled your own fear. Usually when we don’t want to be alone, it’s because we’re not truly happy with who we are. Start there.
Caving to Outside Pressure
“So, I see your cousin Peggy just got engaged. When is it going to be your turn?” “You know I want grandbabies; when are you going to get started on that?” “All of the other partners at the firm are married. I’d like to keep it that way.” “You’re not shacking up are you? That’s not how you were raised!” Either subtle or overt, the pressure in our society is towards marriage. People who choose to be partnered without papers or (gasp!) remain single are easily ostracized and criticized. You may get Aunt Mildred’s stamp of approval if you wed, but is that really the person you need to please?
Everybody Else is Doing It
Facebook, Instagram and Pintrest can make it feel like everybody else in the world is planning a (professionally-styled yet laid-back Martha Stewart-esque with the latest baubles and bows) wedding. All around you, Misses are becoming Mrs. and bands appear on fourth fingers. Much like middle schoolers in the cafeteria, we want to belong. We want to be an accepted part of the tribe. And so when everybody else walks down the aisle, it’s easy to follow behind like the rats behind the Pied Piper. But remember what happened to the rats? Yeah, it’s best to look before you leap.
I Want to Feel Secure
That marriage vow is funny. We attach meaning and surety to the words “till death do us part” until those words no longer suit us. Somehow a marriage is viewed as stronger, more stable, more secure than any other relationship. But why? A piece of paper does not prevent betrayal or misdeeds. A promise made in front of a priest can be broken as easily as one told over a dinner table. In fact, in many ways, security in any relationship is an illusion. And if you are brave enough to see through it, it can even spice up your sex life. Promise:)
So, if you’re thinking about saying “I do,” make sure it’s for the right reasons, whatever those reasons are for you.
Even if it is because you’ve always wanted to be on a reality show about Vegas stripper weddings.