Clarifying Your Misconceptions on Marriage

Joscelyn Kate

Marriage is not about love. Marriage can be any two things tied together contractually and doesn’t have to be based on feelings at all. Which is why it’s confusing when people believe they need to get married, or that their relationship is not something they want it to be because they’re not yet married.

People will sometimes make marriage an ultimatum to leaving… as in, if their partner is not interested in business ties, then emotions will be withheld. Some people make marriage a stipulation to having children as if you cannot be good parents without a contractual entanglement. As if you absolutely *can* be a reliable partner and equal contributor to parenting as long as you’re married.

When people want to get married, they want to believe it will put them on a different plane of life, one where they will be happier and more secure. But marriage is not a solution, it’s not a catalyst, it will not help you become something you are not already.

Do you feel like you’re waiting for a ring? Do you dream of the big question being popped? Are you excited about the planning and the party?? Weddings are epic parties.

But do you stop to think about whether or not you’ll be “happy” when you’re married? Do you maybe even believe you or your partner will feel more secure when you get married?

Well, I have some disheartening news then—you won’t.

Marriage is not about love. And it will not make yours stronger or more present. When you go to sleep on the night before your wedding, you are not awaiting a transformation. You will not go to bed the next night with different feelings.

Marriage itself is not about happiness. It is not about your emotional relationship at all.

Marriage will not help you feel more secure with your partner. It will not guarantee behavior patterns or guarantee the avoiding of behavior patterns.

It will not impart significant change on your connection with your partner at all. Marriage doesn’t change people…

Let me rephrase that. Marriage changes people, but getting married doesn’t change people. It takes years for the changes to start taking effect.

So, if a change is what you’re looking for in your relationship, with your partner, or in your life, and you’re inclined to search for it while wading through drying concrete, marriage might be the answer for you. Because in marriage, you have to work really hard to communicate your truest message.

You have to go through lots of annoying arguments, many times the exact same arguments over and over again because although you’re using words, you’re not saying what you need.

Humans struggle to do that.

Marriage changes people like river shapes rocks. It’s slow and barely noticeable until you look back 15 years and say, “wow, we’ve come a long way.”

But let me be honest, marriage amplifies whatever you bring to it.

If you are insecure or untrusting, marriage will only raise the stakes. You do not suddenly wake up the day after your wedding and trust that your partner is not cheating if you had suspected them of cheating last month.

If your partner is controlling or smothering, marriage will not calm those traits. They will simply expand to more intimate parts of your life.

If you or your partner are angry or abusive or anxious or depressed, marriage will not absolve you of bad behaviors, hard days, and difficult moments.

It’s not a solution. It. Is. Not. Therapy.

Marriage is a contract. It is an agreement to share stuff, money, and important decisions about life and death.

It’s you, picking the person who will communicate your last wishes for you, or decide if your leg should be amputated while you lie unconscious in surgery after a serious accident.

Marriage is the choice to make one aspect of your relationship not about love.

If you are searching for love, do not search for marriage. Do not conflate the two, they are not synonymous.

Emotional security is not found in written words, spoken vows, a two-carat diamond, or the eyes of 175 witnesses.

Trust, confidence, and, happiness are established through mutual respect and daily choices. Marriage does not create discipline.

When you consider marriage, do not ask yourself if you love your partner.

Love is not enough.

Ask yourself, am I ready to enter into a business contract with this person? Do I trust them beyond matters of the heart?

I know weddings are fancy, and those white dresses just… *swoon*, the color schemes, the parties, the money, the honeymoons. It feels productive and conducive to happiness.

Good luck won’t get you through this journey, attitude and effort will.

The idea of weddings is quite romantic. Attending a wedding is superbly romantic. It’s wonderful to celebrate two people who want the world to know they’ve found each other.

But marriage, the thing that starts the day after the wedding, that’s not romantic. And it’s certainly not conducive to happiness unless happiness is what you already brought.

You don’t have to be married to be in love, and you don’t have to be in love to have a successful marriage.

It is possible to be monogamous and committed without becoming contractually and non-romantically tied together. Monogamy, commitment, love — those are all emotional choices. They don’t require a contract, nor would they benefit from one.

Do you know what does require a contract? The beneficiary of your life insurance policy, assignment of a medical proxy, end-of-life decisions, asset assignment, and division in the event of a divorce, entitlement to your 401k or pension, entitlement to your salary.

Don’t get married because you’re in love. Be in love because you’re in love, move in together because you’re in love, plan a 3-month tour around Europe together because you’re in love, buy an RV, or write each other poetry.

Send flowers.

Kiss a lot.

Have deep conversations.

Explore sex and yourselves.

Sign up for painting classes.

Build something.

Encourage each other in every possible way.

But don’t get married.

Stop romanticizing marriage. It’s not about love.

And finally, I will leave you with the greatest advice I received written on our wedding card:

“Good luck won’t get you through this journey, attitude and effort will.”

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Lover of lattes, champagne, avocados, sleep, and my perfect family. The epitome of a liberal millennial snowflake.

Boston, MA

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