Opinion: Marriage Still Means Something

These days, marriage isn’t as much of a respected institution as it used to be, and a lot of people think it’s nothing more than a piece of paper and an expensive party that can leave you in debt for years to come. I’m a bit more old school still see value in marriage, however. If you’re with the right person, it’s so much more than just a piece of paper.

It takes courage to make those official vows. The process of falling in love is exhilarating because it constantly encourages us to test the limits of our comfort zone while also rewarding each leap of faith. Each step we take in the process of committing to a new relationship is a new milestone, and each is scarier than the one before it. In a world where it’s become the norm to spend years in relationship limbo, it takes courage to commit to anything as serious as marriage. Yes, there’s risk, but sometimes you have to take risks in order to reap rewards.

There’s an element of respect to consider. Not everyone wants to get married, but, for those of us who do, it tends to be pretty important when we’re vetting potential partners. It’s completely disrespectful for someone who is against marriage to date someone who does want to get married with no plans of ever giving them the life they want. It’s almost inferring that they’re good enough to be with as a placeholder until someone better comes along, and it’s openly saying that their own fear is more of a priority than their partner’s happiness. In a solid relationship, marriage shouldn’t be completely terrifying; it should be something you both look forward to.

Marriage creates an official family. When you’ve finally met The One, you look forward to each new milestone life brings. Marriage is one of those special milestones because it’s the start of your adult family; it’s the moment you create something new that can never be exactly duplicated. If the thought of creating a new little family that’s yours forever doesn’t make you feel at least a little tingly, I’m afraid you may be dead inside.

Keeping your maiden name isn’t really that much more empowering. If the patriarchy of taking a guy’s last name bothers you, consider the fact that most of us have our father’s last name as a maiden name and he’s a guy too. It’s really not all that different. If you absolutely feel the need to be a rebel, you’ll have to make up a new last name.

Commitment feels great when you’re with the right person. If you’re dating someone and the thought of marrying them doesn’t excite you, it’s probably time to get out of that relationship because something’s not right. Commitment feels really nice when the relationship is right. It doesn’t feel like having a ball and chain strapped to your leg; it’s like when the lone superhero finds their perfect sidekick and suddenly they’re unstoppable together. Why wouldn’t you want that?

Spouse is an important title. While some unmarried relationships are legitimately as committed as marriage, they aren’t given the same merit when it comes to important legal matters. If your partner is in the hospital and you’re not married, you may not be allowed to see them if the hospital doesn’t view your relationship as “family.” Think about that for a minute. If a “piece of paper” makes you a VIP in your partner’s life and ensures that you’ll be alerted if they’re in danger, it’s obviously so much more than just a piece of paper.

Marriage is a lifelong adventure. Life itself is a great adventure, and marriage is just one of the rabbit trails along the way, but it’s an important journey because it’s an adventure you choose to embark on with one particular person: someone you want to be with forever. If you want to live your life to the fullest, take the adventure road with that one person who can make you melt with just a look. Of course you don’t know exactly what’s down that road, but you don’t know what’s down any other road either. You just have to start walking and find out.

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