Marriage is a strange beast. Marriage involves dedicating yourself to a single person for the rest of your life. To make such a commitment, you must agree to give up many of your old priorities and take on new ones that may or may not be what you would like.
By getting married, you must give up much of your freedom. Having someone else, your “other half”, who must agree with your decisions (to move, get a new job, start a business, travel africa, assassinate the president, etc) forces you to be much more moderate in that decision making. By the very nature of marriage, compromise must happen.
What are the benefits of marriage? You have an ally who will support you more than most other people. Children are much easier to raise in a partnership rather than going solo, so if you want or have kids, that is the way to go. Decision-making will be more conservative and usually a bit better because all of your ideas must be bounced off your partner.
When people are thinking about getting married, I think that one thought that runs through many folks heads is, “Can I do better in a reasonable time frame?” I think that is the determining factor in deciding most marriage partnerships. People who have not yet gotten married generally think that they can do better than whoever they are currently with… however, I think it has more to do with the individual making that decision than it does with their partner. This factor is the “biological clock effect”… I think that when people decide to get married, it is because some factor in their lives suddenly makes them think their value in a marriage partnership will degrade soon (whether because their hair line is receding, they are getting wrinkles, they are pregnant, etc.). At this point, the person wants to marry whoever they are currently with, even if they actually could do better or previously dated a better person.
Christians have different motivations for getting married, so the previously mentioned theory applies more to agnostics, atheists and those who don’t have strong faith. Christians aren’t allowed to have sex till marriage, so they have a very strong biological imperative to get married as quickly as possible. Most of my high school friends and my younger brothers fall into this area.
My college friends and myself and most Americans I think tend more towards the previously mentioned theory of “Can I do better in a reasonable time frame?”, which is why the average marrying age in the U.S. is a little bit older (27-29).. right when people start to realize they are no longer young.
What do you guys think? Agree, or disagree? Any alternative theories on marriage?