Why – Not To Who – Do You Want To Get Married?

Couple In RainMy homie and co-owner here at Fearless Men, John, implored me to read a book for non-married types he’d recently read. It’s called The Sacred Search. I haven’t read all of it, but that’s never stopped me from sharing still percolating thoughts.

I’ll rip the premise of The Sacred Search from the back cover of the book:

What if being in love isn’t a good enough reason to get married?

So let me ask you 3 questions, whether you’re married, you’ve been married, or you’d like to be married:

  1. Have you ever been in love?
  2. Was that love life-giving?
  3. Why – not who – do you want to get married?

Someone recently asked me if I’d ever been in love. Of course, a couple times. Was it life-giving? I think so. Yes and no. I’ve always passed that thought over because I accept that every relationship has its ups and downs.

Here’s why, at 30, I re-evaluate why I want to get married. For ages, for me and I’m guessing you, it’s been about dating someone who’s beautiful, fun, that I’m full of chemistry with. God saw Man at the Genesis of creation and thought Man was lonely. So in my mind, I want companionship.

But seriously, I’ve got friends. Do I want to sign up for making offspring (as if the earth doesn’t have enough)? I used to think that marriage and turning on the baby-making factory was the Right Thing To Do. But what makes that inherently right?

A buddy of mine, I’ll call him E, recently observed that lots of people get married because they think they’re supposed to.

Is Feeling “In Love” Enough Reason To Get Married?

Is that enough reason to get married? Because you’re supposed to? Because people just do it? Because you’re lonely and need companionship?

Is it enough reason to get married, simply because someone makes you feel really really special, and really really loved?

The Sacred Search shares this statistic, and it’s what provoked this entire article:

In 1967, a study of college-age women found that 76% of women said they would marry someone if the man had every trait they were looking for, even if they didn’t feel “romantic love” toward them. In more recent research, 91 percent of women said “absolutely not.”*

Think about it. 45 years ago 76% of women surveyed would get married based not first on emotion, but on the traits that they desired in someone. 7 years ago, only 9% of surveyed women agree.

I’ll write to women here for a second—since 50% of our readers are female. If you found the man you’ve been dreaming about, but he just didn’t make you feel overwhelmed with love, would you still take him?

Men—if you found your nearly ideal woman, but didn’t feel like you were head over heels for her, would you still make it happen and marry here?

You Won’t Always “Feel” In Love

Here’s the crux—one day, at some point after you get married, you’re not going to feel heads over heels in love for that person. Not that that feeling can’t return, you just won’t feel non-stop, relentless passion as you may in the dating cycle. I’m guessing you already know that.

My challenge is this: if we have already accepted that one day we WON’T feel crazy in love every moment, should you pass up on getting with someone that is still a great fit according to the traits you desire?

I know there’s a lot of split feelings about this. If we lived 45 years ago, pickins’ were probably slim and we’d be happy with what we got. If we grew up in a caste system combined with arranged marriages, we’d probably completely accept our assigned spouse.

With all of our modern, Western, privileges, has getting married only been made more complicated? Is it possible people are less satisfied with marriage?

Why Do You Want To Get Married?

I don’t have all the answers, and I didn’t plan a full conclusion, because I want you to sound off in the comments below.

I’ll leave you with this thought, and question: Maybe feeling in love isn’t enough. How “in love” do you need to feel to sign up for 50 years with someone?

*Quote based on the study by Debra Lieberman and Elaine Hatfield, “Passionate Love: Cross Cultural and Evolutionary Perspectives,” in The New Psychology of Love, page 280, 2006.

[Featured image courtesy of http://imagesnoise.com/]
About Todd Mayfield

He's a lover, not a fighter. But he's also a fighter, so don't get any ideas.

He works for a series of private schools to advance innovative education to combat ballooning classroom sizes and challenge the status quo of the current public and private education format.

Comments

  1. Love this post, Todd!! I agree that the feeling of being “in love” wanes after awhile and passion has its ebbs and flows… maybe it will change as the years go by, but I still get a feeling of “I get to see him now!” on my drive home, which is a pretty cool feeling to have. I think the main reason why I want to get married is because he makes me want to work harder – whether with myself, in jobs, or in our relationship between us or others – and vice versa, so we can build this amazing life together. As much as I have his back, I know he has mine, and I attribute it to having the same values, morals, priorities, and work ethic. He’s not really romantic, but that doesn’t mean his love isn’t any less genuine, and I think the above are big reasons why I’m choosing to marry him. 🙂

    • You speak of your man so highly! That’s great. I like that you point out that although he’s not super-romantic, that doesn’t make his love any less genuine. Want to guest post on the subject?? 🙂

  2. Great questions here! As a guy who’s been married for a little over 5 years, the “in love” feeling is a HORRIBLE foundation to lay your entire future on. I wake up every day and choose to love my wife, and she chooses to love me. We’ve been blessed to still have the “in love” feeling, but it’s not a 24/7 thing. Love takes work, but it’s the best kind of work anyone could ask for!

    Why is a great question. I think another question is: “What is your foundation?” If that foundation is the feeling of love…it will fail. Heck, if your foundation is even “my spouse”, it will fail. You need a much more solid rock to stand on for a great marriage and great legacy. 🙂

    • Good point about a foundation! What I loved about this book is that as a Christian I need to keep Christ as the foundation. There have been times I didn’t remember that or even misunderstood it. It’s easy to get distracted with similarities and compatibility in interests. But when it’s something that fades, for myself it was soccer, ministry, politics, etc…then it won’t last the test of time. That “in love” feeling doesn’t last based on those things and you have to work to keep it going.

      • I agree with both of you. The concept of Christ as the foundation of a marriage is a big one. I can’t think of surviving without him. It’s such a heady concept it’ll take a whole other dive into the subject!

  3. Marriage is not about the “feeling” of love. Hollywood has brainwashed us into believing that love is about sex, about us, and about “feeling” happy and complete. Only Christ will do that. I will never be fully fulfilled by Jon and nor will he be by me. Marriage is about becoming holier…and about unity with Christ and with one another. Marriage is a picture of the trinity. Our roles compliment each other and if we are truly submitting to Christ we will play out those roles and we WILL be fulfilled. We will also be an example of who Christ is through our union which in turn glorifies the Creator. The covenant relationship between one man and one woman is about become holier. It isn’t about us and it never will be. It is about making HIM known. And when we do that…it is amazing how in sync we are (physically, emotionally, and spiritually) with our spouses!

    • *becoming 🙂 oops…typo.

      • One of my best friends years ago asked me this: is the purpose of marriage to make you happier? Or is it to make you holier? He seems right on with your assertion.

        I think seeking happiness isn’t wrong, but if that consistent feeling is what we’re looking for, I think we’ll be severely disappointed. People that make that their top priority when seeking marriage, it’s surprising to me that they ever get past the dating stage!! I suppose they think that if they get married it will solve their emotional deficiency?

  4. Is there ever a good enough reason to commit “till death do us part.”?

    • Man that’s a big question. In a way, as I guy who’s still single, I wonder if choosing to commit to 50+ years with someone will ever be a pill I can swallow. I think it takes a leap, that we can’t truly, fully, 100% understand the implications of a lifelong commitment.

      I can say that if we don’t want to make that commitment, we shouldn’t. Hence why I have yet to ask someone to marry me by age 30! I plan on it one day though, so we shall see.

  5. Great post Todd! You have created a great source of thought provoking question here. Its important to answer the “why” because it helps uncover your motives. Anyone you date should understand your “why” because those are your hidden (that should be not so hidden) motives that drive the relationship.

    • I agree. Whenever someone tells me they just want to date around, I think to myself, “I’m 30, not in high school.” At this stage in my life I’m not looking for new experiences, but a consistent one.

  6. You get married if it’s going to make your life better. It’s a case by case basis.

  7. I don’t remember how I stumbled across this site a couple of months ago, but I have found it very truthful.
    This post was one of my favorites because it is so true. As a 30 year old, divorced, Christian man I can tell you with 100% certainty that basing your marriage on the feeling of love, or any other feeling at that, sets the relationship up for failure.
    Time proceeds, people change, circumstances change, “feelings” change, etc.
    Jacob | iHeartBudgets said it best, you have to choose everyday to love you wife. This is not a feeling but an action. The only way you can choose to love your wife is to have the foundation of Christ. With the foundation of Christ, hopefully both members will understand that Christ loves unconditionally and that He did indeed CHOOSE to love you. Everyone is unlovable, that why love has to be a choice.
    By following through with the choice to love everyday (serve, die to ones self, etc) follows joy, which is different than happiness, but is a very nice reward.

    Leon

    • Thanks for being so open Leon! I think the challenge is on the other side of marriage its kind of impossible to fully understand the implications of it. I agree–there’s got to be a lot more than love to motivate you to “lay your life down” for 50 years.

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