Just a Paper: Why Do People Get Married Anyways?

Marriage used to seem like a given (for heterosexual couples that is) after a certain point in a relationship, but, recently, more couples are opting out of tradition marriage and instead living together as domestic partners and common law spouses. A lot of people these days prefer to avoid weddings due to a bunch of different reasons, including the stress of the big day and the financial burden that often accompanies traditional marriages. Aside from the wedding aspect of marriage, some people just don’t feel the need for their marriage to be recognized in the eyes of the law. Or believe that marriage is a social relic of the past. There’s no right way to define your relationship to another person, especially if you don’t totally believe in the institution of marriage or the traditions that go hand in hand with marriage. Why do you need a silly piece of paper anyways? But, there are some notable benefits to tying the knot that you and your partner should consider before completely writing marriage off as a possibility for the future. We should note here that marriage is not a way to solve problems in your relationship. Significant, long-term problems will persist whether you have a marriage license or not. So when considering whether or not to get married, don’t think of it as a fix to any problems you and your significant other are experiencing!

Marriage is a big step, so why make it?

Power of commitment

As creepy as this may sound, getting the law involved with your relationship might make it feel more real and long term! After all, if you decide to get a marriage license, you have to get legally divorced, which can prevent any sort of wishy washy feelings about commitment. Agreeing to get married shows a certain degree of commitment to one another that isn’t equaled by any other informal arrangement. Marriage proves commitment to your partner forever (barring anything out of the ordinary), which can make both partners feel more at ease and secure in the relationship. Having this kind of security and trust in the relationship can help your relationship/marriage flourish and grow. Knowing that you are committed to one another through marriage can also help you and your partner rise above conflict and rough patches. Knowing that you have a lifelong commitment will strengthen your bond through thick and thin, sickness and health, etc. etc.

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Helps define the relationship

Like we mentioned, in recent years formal dating culture seems to have fallen out of popularity in favor of things like « talking » and hookup culture and dating around. This coupled with the rising acceptance and prevalence of open relationships and polyamory can make it really hard to understand exactly where you stand in your relationship. Engagement and marriage offer labels that define the exact terms of your relationship. In addition to proving commitment (as we discussed above), marriage spells out long term monogamy (unless otherwise negotiated) and various rights and privileges you can expect (more on that to come) in your relationship. In an age when people are afraid to DTR (AKA define the relationship), it can be important to get married so that both people are on the same page, and comfortable with the longevity of the relationship. Having the official label of ‘married’ can provide a lot of security in your relationship that is perhaps missing without the title. This security can help you feel more at ease with your relationship, promoting growth and a closer relationship.

Legal benefits

In addition to the emotional and psychological benefits of marriage, there are also legal benefits to consider. Married couples have the right to a tax deduction, the ability to jointly file taxes (which saves tons of money), Social Security benefits, IRA benefits, health insurance benefits, legal decision making benefits, inheritance benefits, and prenuptial benefits (if you establish those before the marriage). Like it or not, a lot of social institutions encourage marriage through monetary, social and other legal incentives! While these things may seem abstract and kind of like legalese, these benefits can be really important in the case of medical emergencies, sudden deaths (I know morbid, sorry) and other unforeseen circumstances. If you are planning to spend your life together anyways, the legal benefits of marriage are often a compelling reason to just do the damn thing and officially (read: legally) tie the knot. In some states, common-law spouses are awarded similar legal benefits to married couples, but this isn’t always the case.


Believe it or not, marriage is actually correlated with living longer, especially for men. Studies have shown that married men tend to live longer than single men, or men in less defined relationships, because they are more likely to create and keep medical appointments and follow through with treatment and therapy. In addition, married people have more emotional support than their single counterparts, which benefits their mental and physical health as well. When you think about it, all these studies make a lot of sense. When you are committed to another person FOR LIFE, you are much more likely to take care of your health, because you have a partner relying on you to stay healthy. Plus, having a constant support system in your spouse provides consistent emotional and mental health support, which is known to improve your overall health. If living longer isn’t reason enough to get married I don’t know what to tell you... though there is the caveat that divorce can lead to increased stress levels that negate the longevity that correlates with marriage.

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Emotional symbolism

Ultimately marriage is about committing yourself to your partner and your relationship, but it’s important not to overlook the emotional symbolism that goes along with marriage and wedding ceremonies. In a lot of families, getting a marriage license and having a wedding is very important. It’s important not to discount how much family by-in can help or hinder your relationship, and if marriage is expected by the family, it’s often important to take that into consideration while making your decisions. This shouldn’t be the only reason that you get married, but it is definitely something to take into consideration. In addition to the symbolism marriage provides to the family, it’s also important to consider how the symbolism can strengthen your relationship with your partner. If you choose to go the wedding route, having a celebration of your love with both of your families and all your friends can be a very important event, marking the start of your life together as a permanent couple. There is a certain degree of symbolism in weddings that’s importance just can’t be overlooked. Even if you don’t go the wedding route, having a witness, a ring and a marriage license can cement your relationship in an unparalleled way.

Makes it harder to walk away

Like we mentioned before, when you legally marry someone, you have to legally divorce them to break things off. Not only does marriage cement your commitment to one another, but it also makes it harder to walk away from that commitment. And while this might seem scary, especially if you are on the fence about marriage in the first place, it’s important to consider that you actually probably want it to be hard to walk away from the relationship. If you are committing to spend your life with someone, you want to know that they are in the same boat and that they won’t get cold feet after any amount of time. Committing to marriage is committing to forever, not until you change your mind. Of course we acknowledge that not all marriages are happily ever after, divorce rates are high and marriage can’t save your relationship in any way. But the idea of marriage and the commitment that it stands for often drives people to try harder to work on their relationships and weigh the options of abandoning ship....


Like we mentioned before, marriage is not a solution to problems that you are having in your relationship, and you should only agree to get married when you feel comfortable and confident with the longevity of your relationship. That being said, no relationship is perfect, and even if you know you want to get married, and are ready for marriage, you still might experience problems in your relationship. If this is the case, you should turn to Relish a relationship coaching app that can help you and your (soon to be) life partner work through your relationship difficulties. Relish offers personalized coaching with trained relationship therapists who can help you set and achieve goals in your relationship. Including goals related to preparing to be a married couple! Relish is a great resource to invest in prior to marriage, during the marriage process and even once you are married.

Relationships take work at every stage, and Relish can help you achieve your goals and improve your connection no matter what stage of the relationship you are in. Get started with our award winning relationship app for free - download now.

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