Marriage is not for everyone

Students should focus on their goals, not catching the bouquet

It's the resolution to almost every Disney film and romantic comedy: The bride walks down the aisle, the couple says "I do," and their happiness is sealed forever.

The media we consume portrays marriage as a well-established norm in American culture.  As a result, we grow up thinking marriage is the "right" way to do life. It is generally assumed that a person is going to get married when they are older, unless otherwise stated. Marriage is often seen as a sign of success, prosperity and a fulfilled life.

However, few people really think about why they want to get married. Often people decide they eventually want to get married because we're socialized to dream of a fairytale Disney princess wedding. Before you decide you want to get married, it is important to fully consider what you want out of life and if marriage aligns with those goals.

“Social norms are really built into the expectation of ‘I’m going to get married when I’m an adult.’ It is, of course, influence by the influences around you as you grow up. The examples we see all go into shaping what we end up choosing for ourselves," said clinical assistant professor at ASU's Sanford School of Social and Family DynamicsMary Doyle

Marriage rates are quickly dropping for our generation. Millennials are opting more for long-term partnerships or simply opting for a time-consuming career rather than a marriage. Yet, somehow the word “single” still has a negative connotation. Its important to begin to question why that is. It's also important to consider if we truly want to get married in college, as its a major time of self-exploration. This will prepare us to have healthier and fairer relationships.

Before we decide that marriage is something we want, we should fully consider a variety of other aspects that interact with this choice, such as career, children and location. 

For example, if you cannot imagine a life without kids, marriage might be a great choice. However, if you want a demanding career that requires a lot of travel, then you may want to reconsider marriage.

Once we establish these things, we will be able to assess what we want out of our lives. This way, we can look at all these goals and consider whether these “make it or break it” factors align with marriage. If they do not, it may be wise to reconsider the desire to get married.

Marriage is not one size fits all. It does not work for everyone’s goals and dreams. Often times it severely conflicts with them.

Staying single does not mean you have failed or that nobody can love you. It simply means you are making a choice that is healthiest for you and fairest to your potential partners.

“There are certainly couples who will stay together for a long period of time and choose not to get married. It depends on their own beliefs, and conventions,” Doyle said.

It's crucial to be honest with yourself about what you want out of life — and if marriage conflicts with this. The earlier we can be honest with ourselves, the earlier we can be honest with our partners.

If we establish realistic expectations, there is less room left for disappointment. If we know ourselves well, our partners can too. This creates a fairer dating situation, as no partner feels led-on.

If we practice introspection, and compare what we find to common cultural values, we can begin to assess whether marriage is a good choice for us. By doing so, we can create a culture where marriage is not a default and every choice is equally respected. 

Reach the columnist at or follow @skyjordan4 on Twitter.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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