Marriage represents the most significant possibility of intimacy on one hand or the greatest pain imaginable. Marriage can be like a gentle flowing stream providing life and nourishment wherever it flows or like a raging river bringing destruction in its wake. For this reason and a variety of others, more and more people are afraid of failing at marriage, so they refuse to take the plunge.
Why marry when you can live together? Where does the reluctance to marry come from anyway? Many have seen their parents’ marriages completely fail, so they have negative biases against marriage “Don’t want that!” Others have seen or experienced the pain of divorce and vow never to go through that again. They say to themselves, “If this arrangement doesn’t work out, then it won’t be complicated to end it.” Others want to do a trial run and see how this will work before they sign on the dotted line.
How do marriages compare to cohabitation? The bottom line is marriage outlasts cohabitation by far. Just think about it—the greater the commitment, the greater the fidelity. The greater the legal obligation, the less likely the relationship will fail—the greater the public acknowledgment of responsibility to each other, the more secure the bond.
Cohabitation brings two attitudes that hinder the relationship from achieving greater mutual satisfaction. The first is individuality. The two came into the relationship as two individuals and remained in their thinking as such. They keep their money separate and often pursue their individual interests and friends. The second attitude that hinders is a lesser commitment. The greater the commitment, the more necessary attitudes like humility, self-sacrifice, and delayed gratification thrive, and to the contrary, the less obligation these attitudes have less chance of growing.
Marriage is the safest way to live with a man or woman intimately. It expects loyalty and fidelity from each other. It is the best possible arrangement to bring children into the world and raise them in a home where they are loved. Marriage offers the best possible satisfaction for emotional and physical intimacy because this arrangement’s boundaries have been made clear to the world. It is the best way to find what every couple longs for—fidelity.
A good marriage is held together by tough love. Some couples shy away from marriage, fearing it may restrict their freedom or hamper their lifestyles. They want to keep their options open in case things don’t pan out. However, ironic as it sounds, this makes the lifelong companionship they long for impossible to achieve. No one can merely “try-out” commitment without actually committing! You can’t dive into a pool just by putting your toe in the water—it requires a plunge of your whole body. Vows can only be made when they originate from the heart, and the person making the vow is willing to stand behind the promise.
Marriage helps hold people together. When you are not committed to each other through marriage, it is easier to walk away when things get tough. When you are not committed to each other through marriage, you are far more likely to be unfaithful. The ties that bind are not strong enough to keep you together through temptation and conflict.