Is marriage the gold standard that all couples are meant to reach in their relationship? If we do not have a diamond ring and wedding bands circling the third finger of our left hand, a home with a picket fence and children are we missing the mark somehow?
Speaking strictly from my own experiences of dating, love and marriage – I don’t think so.
Some research has shown that cohabitation is a sort of illusion of a trial marriage type of thing. And that is only correct if we are assuming that marriage is the end goal. And also assuming that marriage equals commitment; and sadly to say that when we have a human factor involved – there is no guaranteed commitment. To be clear, I am not anti-marriage but I am also not pro-marriage; I am in a committed relationship with my partner and we are cohabitating prior to our engagement. According to research this means that we stand a higher chance of getting divorced due to our faux commitment and unclear boundaries that we established when we signed our apartment lease.
I can’t disagree that we stand a chance of not working out – it’s true. People have this uncanny and completely crazy ability to change their minds whenever they want to! Being married to my partner does not provide me with some magical ability to control his thoughts, actions and decisions. I can influence them – but I do that now and we are not married. Free will is something that we are all equipped with and when we are in a situation that we don’t want to be in anymore, we change it. Whether it is in a particular job that we can’t stand; or in a conversation with a co-worker that is just making you super uncomfortable or in a relationship with someone that you had once loved and are now finding repugnant for whatever reason – you quit the job, walk away from the asshat co-worker and you leave the person you’re with. Does it suck? Sure. Is it always easy? Of course not – but a large part of the human condition is not to sit in suffering.
Live your life for yourself. Be kind and patient, practice compassion with your partner and talk to them about the things that are important to you and decide what you can live with. In my case, marriage is important to my partner; it doesn’t change the definition of our commitment – just our legal titles for each other. We’ve defined what it means to be husband and wife and our expectations for each other and for any family that we create later on in our relationship. And honestly, I don’t think it would be too different if we never said, “I do”.
If we don’t work out it’s not because we shacked up prior to getting married, there is a lot more to our relationship than our address.See some words or phrases that you don't understand? Check out The Dragon's Lexicon.