Marriage is not for everyone. Today, plenty of people choose to have long-term partnerships and never tie the knot or live happily single with a strong group of friends and family members around them. So, if you are wondering whether or not marriage is right for you, know that you are definitely not alone.
Marriage is a deeply personal decision and a desire for this type of partnership will vary from person to person based on personality and lifestyle aspirations. Besides, what really makes someone want to get married? That's why we turned to dating expert Barbie Adler to answer that question and more. Ahead, she explains the most popular reasons for marriage, how to know if your partner is ready, and what to do if marriage isn't for you.
Meet the Expert
Barbie Adler is a national dating expert and founder of matchmaking company Selective Search.
Reasons Why People Want to Get Married
“There is something to be said about a true union,” says Adler. “Marriage is the ultimate commitment.” Even if you are in the most committed, long-term relationship, there are legal, emotional, and financial benefits to making it official. Here are a few:
A Heightened Sense of Security
There are couples who have lived together for a decade who still feel different once they are married. Even after they’ve known each other for so long, they say they feel more at ease once they said their vows. For many, marriage brings a sense of security, a grounding they can’t get any other way.
Many of Adler’s clients are accomplished people. They have successful professions, a solid group of family and friends, hobbies, a life full of travel and joy. But the one thing they are missing, something marriage gives, is constant companionship. “They know who they are, what they want, and are ready to share their life with someone special,” she shares. They want someone who will be their best friend and their partner in crime not just now, but as they grow old as well.
Affirmation of Mutual Love
In her line of work, Adler sees how powerful it can be for couples to stand up in front of their family and friends and declare their love for one another. It’s a way to bring your partner into your family officially and tie your two worlds together.
To Start a Family
Sure, in some religions and communities it is frowned upon to have a child without being married. But even if you come from a more progressive world, a lot of people want to be married before having a child. There is stability that comes with having a legally-defined family.
If a break-up does happen down the line, marriage is the only way to make sure there is child support and custody arrangements.
It may seem unromantic to discuss money when looking at the reasons to get married, but marriage is as much of a business transaction as it is a spiritual and emotional one. In the past, families would marry their children to solidify financial and political arrangements. Today, getting married allows you to share your income, your property, your assets, and in many situations, it also means tax benefits. The state literally rewards couples who chose marriage.
When you get married you vow to stick together in sickness and in health. It’s also true that you can share medical benefits with your spouse. Perhaps only one person works or one partner has better medical insurance—if you're married, you get to share it.
How to Know If Your Partner Wants to Marry You
Do you think you want to get married, but you aren’t sure if your partner feels the same way? Here are some indicators to look for:
There is open communication in your relationship.
“The primary indicator of a relationship that is ready for marriage is healthy, open communication,” explains Adler. “You want your communication to be transparent as opposed to opaque.” Have you openly talked about your life goals? Does it feel safe to bring up these conversations? Has he or she brought it up as well?
If you can’t have comfortable conversations about your long-term aspirations with your partner, you might not be ready for a lifelong commitment.
You are included in big decisions.
“Another gauge is being included and valued when it comes to making big decisions,” Adler adds. Did your partner consult you when buying a new car, taking a new job offer, or moving into a new apartment?
You've met their family.
Your partner might be ready for marriage if he or she has proactively introduced you to the keystone people in their life, including family members, close friends, and mentors. It’s a step forward in the merging of two worlds, which is what happens when you are married.
They have emotional intelligence.
“Take stock of your partner’s emotional intelligence or EQ,” says Adler. Questions to ask yourself include: Are they invested in your overall happiness? Are they vulnerable with you? Do they share their failures as well as successes? Are they willing to put in the work when conflict bubbles up?
Why Someone Might Not Be Ready for Marriage
Adler admits there are a few reasons why someone might not be ready for marriage. The most obvious is that they haven’t met the right person yet. “They may engage in relationships where there is chemistry in the moment, but no long-term potential. I advise singles to not settle or stay in relationships out of convenience. It’s a lose-lose scenario for both parties.”
In other instances, individuals might be scared of the commitment or struggle with it in some way. She reveals, “This fear can come in the form of not feeling ‘good enough’ or that they don’t deserve to be happy. It also could stem from going through a toxic relationship or witness a toxic relationship as a child. I always encourage everyone to examine their past relationships to identify what went wrong, and make it a point to evolve from those life lessons.”