The wedding industry is still big, and many couples go overboard on spending to get the “perfect wedding”, from dresses that coast thousands of dollars, to over the top venues and flowers and insane guest lists! In most little girl’s minds, they dream of their “big day” where they get to meet their prince charming and feel like a princess. some even have the dress, the cake, the music etc.. all picked out before they even have found the right guy! Now, this is a bit extreme, perhaps putting too much pressure on the wedding day and marrying. However, there seems to be a trend among younger generations to not marry all together even though they’re in a serious relationship.
Some of the reasons for their reluctance seem to stem from this notion that the traditional institution of marriage, is old fashioned and outdated, superficial and bureaucratic, or sexist for women because of historical limitations on married women. In the realization that a relationship between two people is not simply the superficial papers, or “going through the motions”, or on the rejection of overly moralistic arbitrary notions of why one must marry, it begs the question if the institution of marriage has a place in a more egalitarian and nontraditional world. Many religious people argue that marriage is a requirement for people in a relationship, or a sacrament of its own in the case of Catholicism, due to some decree from God. For the non-religious however, what is the significance of a traditional marriage?
I argue that the institution of marriage still matters to our society. We don’t need religion to dictate that one must get married. First of all, marriage signals the utmost devotion to your spouse. While a couple dating and having a serious relationship is one level of devotion to another person, actually marrying them, and vowing “till death do us part” adds a whole new level onto the devotion you already have for one another. Many unmarried but serious couples argue, “but we don’t need to be married to have the same devotion to each other…”. That’s true, the devotion a couple has in their hearts is not simply a matter of a piece of paper or lack of it, but if it doesn’t matter either way, why not tie the knot officially? Some women feel that to marry means to give up the freedoms women have fought for, and their own autonomy. Often, these liberal feminists back at the idea simply because it is a more traditional custom for men and women in relationships. They say they want a more “free” relationship, not bound by all these outdated notions, but they don’t realize, that the marriage is what the couple makes it to be. If you marry a domineering husband who doesn’t let you have any freedom, then you won’t like the relationship married or unmarried. If you marry a husband who is more egalitarian and shares your views on women, then your relationship will suit you much better. Marriage in itself makes no difference in how good or bad the relationship will be, it’s who you’re marrying that makes the difference! How old fashioned and oppressive your marriage will be is determined by who you choose to marry, not the fact that you did marry. Some may argue, “But doesn’t all this undermine your argument? If it truly doesn’t matter either way in this society anymore, then why is there the trouble of marrying at all?”
I acknowledge that a governmental bureaucratic piece of paper announcing your relationship status means nothing in terms of one’s actual devotions, or that not marrying doesn’t make a serious relationship any less devoted in one’s heart to another. However, I think the true reason why marriage still matters today is the society marriage used to reflect. Today’s society is full of promiscuity and hook up culture, where sex is given out like a handshake, and serious committed relationships are given up for flings and infidelity. Divorce rates are higher, broken homes rife, single parents, blended families, 2nd, 3rd, 4th marriages etc. Unfortunately, our society is drifting away from the devotion of our grandparent’s or our parent’s generations to this new “throw out when used” relationship policy. Everything is a fling, no one is forever. The institution of marriage has been cheapened over the years, to the point where now it means close to nothing. It’s little more than dating 2.0 in society! The traditional institution of marriage symbolizes the older notions of commitment, devotion and fidelity to your partner. The relationships our grandparents had, where just because you had some rough patches, you didn’t just give up, or you didn’t just fling yourself at someone when you got tired of the other person. When sex and children were reserved for couples in the highest level of devotion to one another, and not just “whenever we feel like it”. Traditional marriage, one of vows held deep in your heart, of the intact nuclear family, of children born in wedlock and sex the greatest gift a woman gave a man, not just handing it out like cheap pamphlets, is devalued in favor of the new “hook up culture”. Yes, the institution of marriage as important is a more conservative notion. But why are more conservative notions bad? It is more “liberal” to say marriage doesn’t matter, everyone can have the relationship they please, but liberating from what? From devotion, from integrity, from fidelity? All good relationships have those qualities regardless, but it adds a whole new meaning when you actually stand before your partner and make those solemn vows. Making the choice as a couple, to marry, signifies the lost sense of seriousness in our culture to truly devote to your one and only, and fight against the messages of promiscuity and “I can do whatever I want” society. One does not need religion to tell us a society based on integrity, fidelity and devotion in relationships should be valued over hook ups, cheating and divorce, and the juvenile notion of we can just break up when we find someone more interesting.
The institution of marriage also is important for Ladies in particular for their own specific reasons. Traditional marriage, was when the young lady saved herself for her future husband. Sex was an act of the most devotion a woman could give to a man: her virtue and symbolically, her person. With marriage out the window for many girls now, wishing to be “liberated” from men, sex is like a handshake. Hook ups carry no weight whatsoever, sex is meaningless. In a society where virtuous ladies are now considered outdated, womanly virtues such as chastity and modesty are thrown out the window! A young lady who has decided that marriage matters to her in her future relationship, will more likely seek out a man of higher standards as her ultimate goal would be to marry and spend her life with him. Not to mention, children fare better being raised by married parents than just “live in” boyfriends and girlfriends, instead of fathers and mothers bound by wedlock. Women who embrace the institution of marriage and the solemnity that comes with it, are often women of high standards rather than skanks looking for their next hookup. Also, a little tip: wait until you know you have the right guy, but when you do, his willingness to enter the solemn institution of marriage is a good judge of his devotion to you.
Overall, marriage matters in this day and age more than ever. In a culture of flings and hook ups, broken homes and divorces, treating your partner as disposable when you get tired of them, like a new toy turned old, marriage signals the lost values of fidelity, and integrity in relationships, as well as a lady’s virtue being the greatest gift of trust and devotion, to her husband. In the age of promiscuity and “anything goes”, marriage stands in defiance. Ladies, demand to marry the men you love, demand that they enter the most serious of relationships if they wish to “have” you, and not just do you then dump you. Don’t settle for being a concubine, or the mistress, or the live in girlfriend. Want a husband, not a live in boyfriend. Want more than just a “hook up” and a society with low standards. Say “I do” to a society of virtue and high standards.