Confessions: I’m enjoying single life, open ended relationships – can marriage be any better?

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By Chris Hart | Thu,Nov 11 2021 09:50:00 EAT

 I’m enjoying my independent single life (Shutterstock)

Hi Chris,

I’m in my early 30s, and so I’ve started thinking a lot more about getting married.

Not that I’ve got any particular guy in mind yet, but somehow I think I’ve always assumed that I would marry, and my age mates are subtly piling on the pressure, as is my family, especially my mother! But somewhat to my surprise, I’ve found I’m beginning to question my own expectations, and to resent those pressures.

I’m enjoying my independent single life, my career, and my basically open ended relationships, and can’t see how marriage would be better than what I have. Is that OK, or should I be listening to my mother?

Why Get Married?

Hi Why Get Married!

Marriage actually has a lot going for it. Like happy couples generally live longer, enjoy better health, and are at less risk of depression or anxiety.

But being unmarried also has its benefits, and they’re increasing. So nowadays we’re spending more of our lives single, or choosing to simply live together rather than getting married.

Partly that’s because as women become more educated they tend to delay motherhood, work at their career, and value their independence. Which means educated men are getting married later as well!

Both men and women also now expect far more from their relationships, and are far more willing to leave if they’re disappointed.

So modern societies are splitting into two. College-educated and economically successful men and women still tend to marry, though later than before, and once they do they have a low divorce rate.

While those who are less economically successful are less likely to marry, and much more likely to divorce if they do. Especially less successful men, because women strongly prefer a partner with a good career.

And everywhere couples are living together before they marry. Which makes many of them wonder why they don’t just carry on like that, rather than go though all the formalities of a marriage. They argue that they’re just as committed to one another, and many of them don’t like the hoopla of a wedding, or women changing their names, or the ‘ownership’ that marriage seems to imply.

So we’re travelling down the road to a less-married society, as both men and women place a higher value on their independence, and want a greater choice as to whether to marry, who to marry, and what kind of family they want to build together.

 But if you look at what really make people happy in life, it’s not their independence, or education, or wealth. It’s their relationships. Especially the closeness of the relationship between spouses.

And a traditional marriage still symbolises the core values of an intimate relationship, such as trust, purpose and stability. Not things to be thrown away lightly. So take your time to decide, but your mother does have a point!

 

All the best,

Chris

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