Is marriage obsolete?

Certain realities exist today that make many of us women wonder if getting married is really right for us. Although this may seem depressing, it’s true, and before we walk down that aisle, we should really stop and consider what we want out of life and love.

Once upon a time, when you loved a man you got married. Women lived for this stuff—they envisioned themselves being a bride their whole lives and when the day came they felt like a princess. But was there really always a happy ending? Did these women always feel as though they lived that fairytale life?

In Canada, approximately 40% of first marriages end in divorce, leaving us wondering why our mothers and grandmothers could make a marriage last and we can’t. Before you get to down on yourself though, you have to take into consideration that social norms were different in the past compared to now. For one, divorce just wasn’t considered socially or religiously acceptable by most of the population. On top of that, the laws governing divorce were different. For example, up until 1968 the only legal ground for divorce was adultery. Now soak that in for a second. A woman could be in a loveless and abusive marriage, but unless her husband cheated on her she was stuck in that relationship. When the divorce act came into effect in 1968, allowing couples to divorce due to a marriage breakdown (after a three-year separation first), the divorce rate jumped by almost 200%. Obviously there were a lot of unhappy woman suffering through a broken marriage before then; they just couldn’t do anything about it.
Why aren’t we getting married?

The story used to go; when you get married you stay married. So it’s no surprise that one of the biggest reasons we now question the decision to walk down the aisle is because we see so many people’s marriages fall apart. From celebrities, to family, to your own best friend, it’s almost more of a rarity now to find someone in a marriage then not. Clearly marriages are no longer “fail-proof” and a lot of us wonder, can I make this work when so many others can’t? Is it marriage that somehow slowly destroys a relationship? Is there even any point in trying?
As if the notion of your marriage ending in divorce isn’t enough, it seems like the incidents of cheating spouses are on the rise. This can scare people off because who wants to have to admit that their hubby is cheating on them. That leads us to wonder if the idea of one man forever is just too good to be true. No one wants to go through a messy, costly divorce if they don’t have to.

Of course, it’s not just fear that’s keeping us from tying the knot. Weddings are damn expensive! By the time you get the ring, buy the dress, and throw the party you’ve probably spent a good chunk of change. In fact, the average Canadian wedding costs almost $25,000! If you couple that with your student debt, a couple of car payments, and a mortgage it’s no surprise that many young couples are deciding that they just can’t afford martial harmony.
Of course, there’s not the same need to get married any more either. It’s now considered acceptable for couples to share a home without a ring, something that was deeply frowned upon 50 years ago. In fact, after shacking up together for only twelve months you’re legally considered common-law so you don’t even need a ring to get a tax break.

Are Too Many People Rushing Into It?

Here’s the thing—as women so many of us are getting far more involved in our careers and our lives. We’re putting relationships on hold and deciding that having a family can come later (or never!!). So we’re getting married later, and we’re doing the things that our ancestors did in some cases almost twenty years earlier than us. That means that when we decide that we want marriage and we want the white picket fence, we’re settling down quickly. Are we really being selective about the man that we chose? Is he really our Prince Charming or is he just the man that can provide us with the next thing on our checklist? If we are after true love then shouldn’t we wait for that? Are we rushing into things and trying to get to our goals without careful thought about who we are creating these dreams with?

Marriage is hard work, but then again so is any relationship. If you want to make it work then you need to have the right partner. You can have a successful marriage but you need to be sure that he’s the right one for you. Do you have a friendship at the core? Can you count on the fact that you will be there for each other, through the good and the bad? Do you know that you will always work through things even if they get really challenging? These are the questions that far too many of us aren’t asking ourselves ahead of time, hence the fact that so many marriages are ending in divorce. After the career is over the man you wed is in theory the one that you’ll share the rest of your life with. Does that vision make you happy or scare you?

Marriage can work and you can be successful at it, but you need to be realistic about your expectations. If you’re looking at marriage as just another thing to cross off the list, then you shouldn’t get married. If you’re happy with where your relationship is and you don’t feel a need for the official title, then perhaps marriage isn’t for you. However, if you can go in with your eyes wide open and realistic expectations then it can be an institution that you can not only succeed at, but can actually enjoy too. The best advice that any woman can get is to choose carefully, be sure that he’s the one that you want to end up with, and go in with your eyes wide open. Yes, sometimes it will be difficult but when it’s great it’s really great. Marriage may not be for everyone but it’s worth a fair shot if you can be honest with what you expect out of it.

Are you married? Have you been divorced?