Marriage Is an Exclusive Club: Want to Be a Member?


Marriage as an institution is evolving. Back in the days, it was all about property and procreation while nowadays the focus has moved on to companionship, love, and equal partnership. Marriage is also one of those topics everyone has an opinion about. Some think that it’s no longer necessary, that it contributes to the oppression of women, or that it has been hurt by modern lifestyles. Others see it as the epitome of love and are eager to live happily ever after.

But, regardless of your stance on the topic, some facts are clear: marriage rates are decreasing in recent years and there is much less stigma about being single than there used to be.

Sure, living together is perfectly fine and you can still get some benefits of a long term relationship. But, does marriage give you anything that cohabitation does not? I say yes.

Marriage Is a Long-Term Commitment That Takes a Lot of Work

When you and your partner are willing to make that higher level of commitment, you’re bringing your relationship to an entirely new and different place. You are confident that the person next to you is such a great match that you are willing to make it last forever. And, you are so certain of it that you want the entire world to know about your love.

Marriage is more than just a celebration of love. It can also provide a level of security and stability that a long term relationship may not, assuming you stay married of course. That doesn’t mean that you should take marriage for granted. Because it is a long-term commitment, it requires a lot of hard work to make it last. You have to make a constant effort to communicate more effectively, be less defensive and more empathic, and be able to take responsibility when things don’t work out.

Living Together May Be Just as Good, Study Says

Some claim that marriage makes you happier, but others disagree. According to one study, the emotional benefits of getting married versus living together are similar. The research found that when it comes to emotional health, young couples do just as well when living together as they do getting married. Interestingly, they didn’t study whether marriage provided their subjects with more stability, which arguably is one of the most important reasons to consider marriage. This study even disagrees with the long-standing assumption that a happy marriage confers a health benefit.

For Some, Living Together Works Better Than Marriage

As with everything in life, there are no black and white answers. Some people see marriage as proof of their love and long-term commitment to each other. Others have been together for years and feel their relationship is rock solid, despite the fact that they are never married. Some even claim that not getting married is the reason behind their long-standing relationship.

Take celebrities Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell as an example who’ve been together for 35+ years. Goldie Hawn says that the reason they’ve been together for so long is precisely because they never got married. They made a choice to be together every day rather than being forced to do so.  However, you may argue that as a caveat, marriage is also based on that same decision or choice. People who get married are choosing to be together every day and work on their marriage when things get rough.

Marriage Comes with Some Legal Advantages

Marriage is an institution and, as such, it is favored legally and socially. Married couples can benefit from marital tax deductions, they can file tax jointly or can receive the other spouse’s social security benefits. Marriage also generates social capital, which may explain why marriage has been more likely to be associated with better health. On the other hand, cohabitation is more associated with lower income, less education, poor relationship quality, depression, physical violence, and abuse. US laws don’t recognize cohabitation and welfare laws can discourage marriage.

Adding to the social benefits, marriage also functions as a kind of club. You may feel more included if your friends are married. They may feel more connected to you because you’re sharing a similar lifestyle. Sometimes you might be excluded simply because you haven’t taken the extra step to marry. You may feel like you’re missing out on something.

Be Honest with Yourself and Figure out What Works for You

Whether marriage or cohabitation, in the end, what really matters is to choose the club that fits you best. Be honest with yourself and your partner.  Many women think they shouldn’t tell men they want marriage because it may scare them off and end up in relationships where their needs aren’t being met. Of course, you might not want to tell a man that you’re looking for marriage when you’re just getting to know him. Timing is everything. However, you should be able to be sincere and tell them about your hopes and goals as things progress.

In the end, try to remember that being your own Brand of Sexy is all about figuring out what’s right for you and works for you as an individual and figuring out ways to make that happen for you.

Do you want marriage or is living together just as good? Leave us a comment below.

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  • Cindy says:

    I don’t have a problem with living together if that’s what u want to do but I feel people have a clearer and mutual understanding of what they are commiting to when they get married vs living together because a lot of the time you don’t discuss all the commitment details you expect to be honored before moving in together. There really isn’t any set commitment guidelines/rules for living together so it’s more of a individual opinion of what you expect from each other that needs to be discussed in detail, which very rarely happens, so it’s makes it easier to get away with not honoring what THOUGHT you commented vs KNOWING what you commented to.

    • Dr. Susan says:

      Hi Cindy,

      Thank you for bringing up a very important point. When people don’t fully understand what they are committing to, before living together or marriage, they may have very different ideas about what they’re expecting. It can be a miserable experience to find out after moving in with someone that you aren’t very compatible after all.

      We appreciate your comments.

      Dr. Susan

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