As with most big decisions in life there are pros and cons, and marriage is no exception. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve always dreamed of being a married couple or you hate the idea. Marriage can have both advantages and disadvantages.
There are some couples that see marriage as the next natural step in their relationship. However, for others, marriage is an outdated institution and has no place in modern society.
Nevertheless, it really isn’t important what society or other couples think about getting married. If you are facing the momentous decision of whether to get married or not, it might help to examine the pros and cons of marriage.
Let’s start with the benefits of marriage.
Having a piece of paper that legally binds you to one other person is incredibly comforting. When you are a person’s husband or wife you have a level of commitment that other couples don’t have. This can be especially important for couples who want to have children.
A married couple has much more security, both financially and emotionally than a boyfriend and girlfriend who are simply living together.
Married couples get certain tax breaks that unwed couples do not. In fact, many people marry because they can significantly reduce their tax bills. Married couples may also receive and share health insurance benefits that two people who are living together are not entitled to.
Another important issue to raise is that spouses do not pay inheritance tax when their married partner dies. However, even if unmarried couples are named in one another’s wills they still have to pay in order to transfer inheritance.
When you are married you get automatic rights as the husband or wife. For instance, as a surviving spouse, you are entitled to Social Security benefits. Even if you divorce you have more rights if you were married than if you were just living together.
You also get automatic rights for hospital visits and medical decisions. And don’t forget the most important married right which is upon the death of your spouse. Inheritance is automatically given to the spouse.
Humans are social creatures. We don’t like to be on our own for long periods. Having someone who is always there is a great comfort to us. But knowing that they are there because they married you is like an extra layer of comfort.
Marriage benefits people who don’t like to be on their own.
When you are a married couple you know that you are in it for the long haul. This provides you with a stable partner to share your problems with. You know they are not just going to walk out on you after any difficulties.
You have both made vows to one another. You have promised to stick around for better or worse. You are a team, dedicated to your future together. It is you against the world.
When you are married you are giving your children a dependable foundation from which they can blossom and grow. Marriage gives kids two parents that love them and are invested in their wellbeing. It also provides two different role models for them.
In fact, research suggests that children of parents that marry and stay married live longer and happier lives. This is due to several reasons. Children of divorced or single parents may be financially worse off or they might experience a weakened relationship with either parent or grandparents. They could even face increased aggression from parents.
As children who live with married parents are better off, it seems that being married affords a higher level of health. Married couples are less depressed than their single or divorced friends. They report experiencing less physical and mental stress.
As a result, their level of the stress hormone cortisol is much lower. This means they are at less risk of developing certain debilitating ailments such as heart disease or strokes. They are also at less risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases. So couples who are married live longer.
Forget all the ‘er indoors jokes that men make about their wives. Statistics show that married men are healthier than men who never married. In fact, men who marry live longer than those who don’t. Moreover, the longer a man is married the greater his survival rate.
There are many reasons attributed to the benefits of marriage to men, but one major cause is thought to be how the death of a spouse affects the different genders.
Women tend to live longer than men so they are far more likely to lose their husbands. Men do not fare well after the death of a spouse. Even when their wife is hospitalized, men neglect their nutrition and health.
As well as being healthier marriage seems to up our happiness levels too. On average, 40% of married people report feeling happy compared to just 22% of those who have never married.
Researchers looked into the dip of levels of happiness that occurred naturally in middle age. Studies suggest that we are happiest in our youth, this drops in middle age then picks up again as we get older.
However, for married couples, this drop in happiness is not as severe as unmarried couples. This suggests that marriage affords a level of support during difficult times.
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Some people believe that humans are not naturally monogamous. This is particularly true when we are younger. In fact, you could argue that it is more natural for us to sow our wild oats when we are young. So marriage in our youth is not ideal.
But what about marriage when we are older? Well, there are similar problems. As we age we might feel that life is passing us by and we are missing out on new experiences. We may be tempted by an affair and cheat on our partner.
Sure, you might save on your tax bill in the long run, but do you know how much the average wedding and honeymoon cost these days? In the UK it is around £32,000! I mean, who has that sort of money for one day and a week’s holiday?
Of course, you could get married on a budget but people will notice and comment. With social media encouraging things like bride-shaming and wedding cake shaming, do you really want to take the risk of putting on a cheapie wedding?
Did you know that only a few years ago nearly 50% of all marriages in the US ended in divorce? This rate is dropping thanks to millennials who are marrying and staying married.
But you might wonder to yourself ‘What is the point’ when so many marriages fail? Why spend all that money in the first place on something that doesn’t have much chance of working out?
Overall marriage is good for your health, however, not so much if you are a woman. In the US, 55% of women wanted to end their marriage compared to just 29% of men. But why do women feel unhappy once they tie the knot?
Men still traditionally earn more than women so they tend to wield more power in the relationship. Women also do more of the childcare and give up their careers to look after children. As a result, they are reliant on their husbands for money. This leaves them powerless and vulnerable.
Even women who don’t have children and do have careers still end up doing the majority of the household chores. Men will spend their leisure time on hobbies and catching up with friends. On the other hand, women will tidy the house, do the washing, and fix the meals. If she asks hubby for help she’s nagging him.
It’s all well and good if you are happy and in a great relationship, but what about abusive marriages? Domestic violence and coercive control are common in all kinds of situations. However, once you are married it is much more difficult to extract yourself from your spouse.
Couples may argue about property or custody issues with the children. Your spouse might oppose the divorce and this can cost money going through solicitors and the courts. And what about the children’s welfare? You might also stay in a bad marriage simply because you are married.
Despite many young people getting hitched, marriage is seen to many as a traditional institution. Some even view it as a way of conforming to societal norms. Then there are others that think marriage should be available to everyone, including same-sex couples.
On the other hand, you may argue why should you get married to show your love to your partner? There are lots of kinds of relationships these days that don’t have a certificate to prove their love. Marriage isn’t the only option for people these days.
I wouldn’t like to have a joint bank account with anyone! Even if that person was my husband. I have always taken care of my own finances and I don’t intend to give over half of my stuff to someone else just because of a bit of paper.
That might sound pretty unromantic but when you’ve worked hard all your life and when you are a woman you have to be careful. Then again, before you start judging me, I wouldn’t expect a future husband to hand me half his stuff either!
Just as there are financial reasons to marry, so are financial reasons not to. It is correct to think that as a married couple you will be entitled to certain tax breaks but be warned. There are also marriage tax penalties.
It all depends on how much you both earn. You may find that if you both make a similar amount of money you could risk a penalty. Couples tend to get the tax break when one earns significantly less than the other.
For those marrying when they are older there’s a chance that they will have children from a previous relationship. It’s also possible that you have your own kids to think about as well. Not to mention in-laws, uncles and aunts and grandparents.
Your partner may have financial obligations to his former spouse and you may also lose some benefits should you enter into a new marriage. Then there’s the problem of everyone getting along. If the children do not like the new partner this can put friction on the marriage.
Once you get married you are tied to one person for the rest of your life. Your independence is gone, your sex life can become boring and you can feel trapped. You have to take your spouse’s wishes into consideration all the time and deal with their family, whether you like it or not.
The advantages are that you have a companion for life who has your back. You get support in the things you want to do. Being married means growing together spiritually and emotionally. You bond and grow old together while you raise your family.
There are advantages either way. You have more security if you marry your partner in a financial and legal sense. However, you have more freedom and are less restricted if you just live together.
Traditional marriages are typically held in a church or place of worship and this disadvantage is that one of you might not be religious. You could feel pressured by your family to have a traditional wedding because they are paying for it.
There are benefits either way, but generally speaking, financially, it is better to be married. Governments tend to prefer families that are married because they support themselves, rather than relying on benefits. So married couples often receive tax breaks that unwed couples do not.
It’s up to you whether you think it’s better to marry or not. There are advantages and disadvantages to both sides of the argument. But whatever you choose to do, I wish you all the best for your future.
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