(U-WIRE) TUCSON, Ariz. – I never really thought the old college adage “Don’t leave in spring without a ring” was true. But as a senior, I am starting to believe the saying holds fast, as more and more of my friends seem to be sporting ice on their fingers.
It shouldn’t really shock me, seeing as New Year’s Eve is the most popular day to get engaged. And many of my senior classmates are realizing it is time to “go or get off the toilet,” as another popular saying goes.
However, in this day and age, when marriage is no longer mandatory in order to live together, sleep together and even have a family together, why are we still so obsessed with marriage?
Andrew Cherlin, a sociology professor at Johns Hopkins University, provides a convincing argument. Cherlin writes that marriage has changed from being the only way to gain social status, to the only way to have a family, to the only way of finding a soulmate. People want to be married so they can be in love.
Nowhere is this more evident than in the lavish wedding ceremonies seen today. The average U.S. wedding, according to www.costofawedding.com, costs $27,690. The same Web site cites 200 hours as the average time spent planning a wedding. People are obsessed with weddings because they view the ceremony as a time to show off how much in love they are and how their love will buck all the trends.
On the surface, you might be thinking, what is wrong with marrying for love? But the main reason marriage is not as stable or even enjoyable for couples anymore is that partners go into the union expecting the spouse to provide for all of their emotional needs.
This kind of thinking may be exciting and romantic, but it will only lead to disappointment. No one can live up to those kinds of expectations.
The history of marriage provides further insight into this topic. The concept of marrying for love did not really exist before the 1950s. Even in the 1950s, marriage was more about finding a companion and partner who could help raise a family.
Special consideration was taken into choosing a mate who had similar morals, values and ideals. Marital satisfaction was determined by how happy you were as a family.
Cherlin writes that today the success of a marriage is determined solely on how happy each individual spouse is. And it is this idea that most threatens the institution of marriage today. For if a person’s needs are not being met by her spouse, at best it will cause disappointment, and at worst it will cause this person to seek happiness from someone else, with no regard for their partner or their family.
Okay, I know what you are thinking: I am married or engaged, in love, and happy. True, the majority of American couples will enter into marriage thinking their love is so strong that it will overcome all of this.
Yet you are walking down a slippery slope if you neglect to evaluate your relationship for more than just love. For married life is about much more then being with someone you love. Marriage is about having a person to help you work through life’s challenges.
Issues such as how to handle money and how to raise children are far too complex to be solved through love alone. Instead, a working partnership needs to be established in which compromises have been made prior to the marriage and a united front is presented during the course of the marriage.
So, as marriage invitations start to flood my mailbox and wedding gifts start to drain my bank account, I would like to provide some food for thought to all those happy couples.
Don’t forget to take a breather from all those wedding plans and discuss important topics not limited to how your partner thinks money should be handled, how roles around the house should be doled out, and how children should be disciplined. Only then will we truly have something to toast to.