Marriage Is Still a Desired Institution



Marriage, the union of two people whether gay or straight, is still desired by a majority of individuals. Those individuals are diverse in their backgrounds, education levels, ages, race, religion and previous marital relationships. Some people want to marry because they are having children, and want to raise that child within a loving family environment. Others marry to have a lifelong partner and companion with whom they want to grow old and care for in the last years of their lives. Even more individuals marry for security and safety and desire the physical and emotional intimacy that a marital union provides, and others marry to have a fulfilling and safe sexual life. Whatever the reasons for seeking out the matrimonial institution, a vast number of people around the world find it desirable to get married.

Having a successful union requires dedication, communication, perseverance, patience, compassion, negotiation, listening, respect, understanding and love. The spousal relationship, like any partnership, require nurturing and attention if it is to function as intended for the participants. Every marriage has its division of labor and tasks and has a leader or coach, although this frequently alternates between the husband and wife (or wife/wife or husband/husband). Couples that are married tend to also have cycles of mad love and lust for each other alternating with periods of cooling off where partners are glad to be with each other, but the intensity of the desires have lessened momentarily. Even when the marriage has settled in a routine, and some of the excitement and thrill is gone, marriage is still seen as more desirable than being single. When asked to identify or describe the primary reason for marrying, the most frequently provided answer is love. Other important reasons given to wed include making a lifelong commitment, companionship, having children and financial stability. However overall the institution of marriage is still desirable as marriage represents a commitment of love.

MarriageA Pew Center study in 2011 found that ninety percent of individuals aged 45 and older had been or were married. So while recent studies show that younger individuals and those with less education are choosing not to marry, or choosing to marry later, or choosing cohabitation or having and raising a child as a single parent, the majority of people will seek out and marry at some point in their life. People are waiting longer, but they are still getting hitched at some point in their lives.

Why does marriage seem to create such high hopes and desires, and wants for the lifetime partner? After love, people look for familiarity, someone with whom they can share experiences and memories whether these are of children, or travels, or business endeavors or the mutual support of each partner’s personal and professional goals. Married couples also look for stability and routine. While unexpected romantic flourishes within the marriage are what keep the embers burning, couples like being greeted each day or night by the same person who they know and who knows them. It is important and comforting that the marriage partner accepts, tolerates and even embraces their limitations, quirks and idiosyncrasies. After all many of those unique characteristics are part of why one partner fell in love with the other before they were married.

For many couples, the certainty and knowing that they can depend on their partner for support during the death of a child, through life-threatening illnesses, through difficult financial times and all of the other stressors that life provides becomes paramount as the marriage begins celebrating its decades of existence. Whatever the reason, people still choose to get married and report that being married and having a successful marriage is a personal goal. Therefore, while the statistics may change, and there may be fewer people–for now–getting married, eventually the majority will wed, as marriage is still a desired institution and not yet obsolete.

By Brendie Kelly

New York Times
USA Today
Pew Research Center