arriage is what brings us here today...and if you think you’re ready for it or not! Princess Bride quotes aside, marriage is still considered one of the major milestones in the lives of adults. It goes along with purchasing a house, kids, jobs, and other huge life goals. That being said, marriage is the biggest commitment you can make with another person, and means you are legally tied to that person until death do you part. Sounds kind of scary, right? Well, it is and it isn’t, so it’s best to know for sure you’re ready to take the plunge and get married.
If marriage is a step you'd like to take in your adult life, read on to see:
- Why we still get married
- Is this really the one?
- The business of marriage
Why We Still Get Married
Is this still a thing in 2019?
According to a Pew Research poll, yes marriage is alive and well in the United States, with over half of adults age 18 and older reported being married in 2017. This might surprise some people, because people don’t celebrate that antiquated tradition anymore right? Wrong. People still want to get married, they’re just waiting longer to do it. No longer do people get married right out of high school or college, instead Americans are remaining single longer-- choosing instead to pursue career goals, or have fun dating, or traveling. Whatever the reason, we’re marrying at an older age than ever before-- in 2018 it was 30 years old for men and 28 years old for women entering into their first marriage.
Because of the delay in marriage, a lot of couples are choosing to cohabitate with one another for years before finally deciding to tie the knot. As silly social customs continue to fall away, this is becoming more and more the norm for people, and no longer turns heads quite like it might have 20 years ago. Cohabitating with a significant other is actually a fantastic way to be absolutely certain you could want to marry them in the future-- if that’s what you’re thinking about.
So marriage is still very much a thing, but so is divorce. This is largely explained by the older generation of Baby Boomers whose divorce rate since 1990 has tripled. Divorce is much less common among younger generations, and it sounds like cohabitating might have something to do with it. Another possibility for younger people is that not being married, especially for women, is more accepted now. Because younger people are not married, they can’t very well get divorced.
Love, not business
Because marriage is no longer a business (thankfully) most Americans are marrying for love. It sounds kind of fairy tale-like, but it is actually backed up by research. Nine out of ten Americans cite love as being the main reason they want to go ahead and tie the knot. So there’s clearly still something driving people to make a life-long legal commitment to another person. But, how do you know if you’re ready to go through with this? Well if you’re even thinking about it, that’s a good place to start, but there are a couple of other things you might want to consider as well.
Make Sure This is “The One”
This might seem obvious but…
It seems that this should go without saying, but you really want to take a good hard look at the person you’re with and think bluntly, “Could I spend the rest of my life loving and living with this person?” If the answer to this question is yes, great! You can move on to step two. If it’s a “yes, but” there might be some gray area that could probably use a little more thought. Typically your initial gut reaction to a question like that is truthful, so if there are some “buts,” you’ll need to examine that closer.
Ask yourself, is it because they don’t do a fair share of house/apartment chores, is it because they do/don’t want kids and you want the opposite, is it because they have a hard time keeping a job, or is it because there’s something lacking in the bedroom? All of these are important components to consider when thinking about marriage. No one (hopefully) marries someone and thinks, well this relationship is okay for now, but if I want to get a divorce later I can always do that. If that’s the case, perhaps rethink marrying someone if there is a large hang up you have. You need to consider what you want out of a life partner first, and make sure that matches up with what they want as well. Only you and your partner know if you’re ready to take your relationship to the next level.
Communication is key
There’s no sense being wishy washy about something as big as marriage, so if it’s on your mind, bring it up with your partner. You can discuss how you two feel about where your relationship is going, and where you want it to be. There are no mind readers in relationships, so just say what you want to say. Sometimes talking about the future is difficult, and honestly can be a little scary. Some people feel like they’re getting trapped when talking about the future of a relationship, because yes, it’s a big deal. But as long as the two of you are able to agree that yes, we can see each other together happily being together indefinitely, then maybe it’s a good time to put out the “what about marriage” feelers.
While you don’t have to agree on everything all at once, it’s nice to be on the same general page. Congratulations, you just passed step two. Now that you’re sure this is the one, and you’ve discussed that marriage could be in the future for your relationship, let’s mull this over even further and think about the outside factors to consider when getting married.
The Business of Marriage
While marriage itself is no longer a financial transaction (seriously thankful for that) there is still a lot of business behind this institution. For one thing, you’ll need to consider that when you get married, your once separate financial obligations are now tied together legally. Once you sign a marriage certificate, the two of you are legally bound together. Of course that sounds incredibly scary and final, but remember, you did pass step one and step two-- so the person you’re choosing to be legally bound to was by your choice and made out of love.
It’s a good idea to have a financial plan regardless, but once you can see yourself marrying someone, this is also a good time to have a financial discussion. If you already live together, this probably isn’t much different than how you’re already paying for bills, groceries, personal items, etc. But if you haven’t lived together, you’re going to want to discuss who pays what and how much, depending on your salaries. This would also be an appropriate time to consider, what about getting a house or larger space, and how you may/may not want to work towards that goal as well.
Another financial factor to consider regarding marriage is can you afford the type of wedding you’d like to have? Marriage still may be a little far down the pipeline, but there’s no time like the present to save for something. Consider putting money away, either separately or together, for a wedding. Your future self will definitely thank you.
Marriages are about two people coming together, but they’re also about two families coming together. Are you ready to take on your partner’s family and vice versa? While this shouldn’t be a huge influencing factor in your marriage journey, it’s still something to consider. You will be signing up for all the obligations, family issues, and of course benefits of having another side of the family. Everyone hopes that once they’re married their in-laws won’t turn out to be simply awful, and most of the time this is absolutely true!
But sometimes people feel that since now you’re also a part of their family, you are required to act and play by their rules. This can lead to some stressful situations. Depending on the relationship that your partner has with their family, you could just be signing up for a couple of extra Thanksgivings and Christmases, or it could mean more visits and more people in you and your partner’s business than you’d like.
If you partner has children, this is definitely an important discussion. Not only will you be taking on the responsibility of being a stepparent, but you will also need to be okay with dealing with the biological mother/father of those children. Most people can be civil with their ex-partner for the sake of the children, but sometimes, the ex is extremely hard to deal with. So just be aware of this potentially stress-inducing situation.
Yay for Marriage!
So after all those considerations, and there are a lot, hopefully you still want to tie the knot with your significant other. We think any huge milestone should always come with thoughtful consideration, so take these suggestions and see how they play out in your situation. We’re not saying you need to analyze every detail of your future, but it’s definitely worth considering a few major points first. So after reading this article, if you can confidently say sure, bring it on marriage, then now is when the fun starts-- planning! But planning for a wedding is an entirely different article, so stay tuned!