The Wedding industry in the United States has an estimated worth of nearly $60 Billion. That may be no surprise, but did you know that the Divorce industry is booming, too?
Recent findings suggest that the Divorce industry’s total worth in the U.S. is $50 Billion or more. It makes sense, then, that most lifestyle websites will have a “Weddings” section and a “Divorce” section, with little to say about the marriage in between.
Marriage isn’t cool, these days. Stable relationships simply don’t make headlines. Hollywood magazines are constantly on the lookout for wedding announcements and breakup scandals. Paparazzi follow newly married celebrity couples, denying them privacy. When the whole world is waiting for them to screw up, is it any wonder that most famous marriages fail?
If our famous role models are divorcing, our parents have been separated, and our newly engaged friends are over-sharing ring selfies left and right, it’s understandable that we have warped ideas of marriage.
To define what marriage actually is, let’s consider what it isn’t.
Marriage is not a blissful horseback ride into the sunset.
Most people do not have their lives figured out, their hearts fully mended, or their finances in perfect shape before tying the knot.
Before I met my husband, I said I would never marry unless I: (1) had become wildly successful, (2) conquered my anxiety, (3) made a million dollars, and (4) owned my own home. But then, I met him…and there went all my plans.
On the other hand – marriage is not a bummer. At all.
Our relationships reflect our inner states – and how you value your partner shouldn’t change just because you’re married. Happy unions are not as rare as you’d think. People who are genuinely happy with their partners are actually less likely to talk about it on social media, or in public. Unhappy people, on the other hand, are much louder about their dissatisfaction. Marriage, by itself, does not make people unhappy. Life does. It’s been said to “Never take advice from someone you wouldn’t trade places with.” This applies to marriage tips, too.
Marriage is not about “settling” or compromising on your dreams.
Sure, my checklist didn’t happen in the order in which I planned it, but since being with my husband, I’ve accomplished more than ever before. He encourages me – and because we have similar goals, we work well as a team. You don’t have to be alone in order to achieve your dreams, as long as your partner is truly supportive.
If you expect your partner to set aside their goals in order to make the relationship work, this is a problem. If you’re thinking that marriage will change your partner (or you), it won’t.
Marriage is not about you.
It’s not your partner’s job to make you happy – it’s yours. We all have problems, but your spouse can only do so much. There’s a reason why people say the first year is the hardest: our personal expectations almost never match the reality of a lifelong partnership. Nobody “fixes” us.
When we date, we often present the perfect package. We offer the best versions of ourselves – and this is not a bad thing. Unfortunately, there are two sides to every coin, and you need to be willing to work on your issues. Marriage brings only one guarantee, and that’s vulnerability. It is a commitment to working on yourself, while encouraging your partner in their journey.
Marriage is not the end of freedom – not anymore.
I can’t tell you how many people asked me “why?” when I said I was getting married in my early twenties. There’s an outdated image of a 1940’s housewife begrudging her chores, and a 1940’s husband who’s dying to cheat on her.
It’s 2016, people! Marriage has changed as much as we have. My partner has a career, and so do I. He has friends, and I have mine. We do fun things together, and have no qualms about going places on our own. Nowadays, people can get married because we want to. Not because we have to.
Marriage is not the end of sex, or dating.
The longer you’re together, the more opportunities there are to be creative. Being married is not an excuse for complacency. You may not sweep your partner off their feet every day, but don’t forget to make them feel valued. Intimacy is only as important as you make it…So make it important.
Marriage is not everything.
My relationship with my husband is number one to me. But if I don’t have a life outside of our marriage, it’s unhealthy. Maybe that’s why marriage doesn’t make headlines: we’re all just people living our lives. It’s not as glamorous as a wedding, or as dramatic as a divorce, but I like this better. Much better.
In the end, Marriage is what you make it.
It’s like any other thing, except it involves another person who is equally important and committed. Marriage might have changed in meaning, but love itself has not. Commitment relies on communication in order to thrive.
Marriage looks different on everyone. Choose your own adventure.
There are countless variations to the traditional marriage model. In the Western World, gender roles don’t matter the way they used to. Women can choose to have careers, or stay at home – and so can men. These days, most of us get married for love, and having children is optional. Some couples live together, and some live apart. Monogamy is a choice between two people, and some marriages skip it altogether. Regardless of gender, religion, race, sexual orientation, married or unmarried, we all deserve to love – and be loved – in the way that’s right for us.