What is the Purpose of Marriage?

Let me start off by saying Happy New Year to you all and many blessings for 2016. As always, I did not make resolutions but continue to live life as thrown my way and make adjustments accordingly.  I was motivated to attend a church service in the new year and will try to make more attempts to get back into church life – we will see how it goes.

So, I am privy to the workings of strangers’ private lives. As they seek behavioral health services, it is my job to ask various personal questions. While this is not new, in the last few months, I am more aware of how many couples underutilize the main reason for getting into a long term relationship-companionship.

Marriage is now easily disposable. People get married for various reasons but the underlying need is a desire to have a suitable companion. The problem I have been noticing for various couples, who are having minor to major marital difficulties, is they have either forgotten or did not establish solid reasons for getting married in the first place.

Here are some things I understand are the basic purposes for marriage: Companionship-to share your life with someone. Support-having someone there when needed and vice versa. Communication: Verbally sharing various aspects of one’s thoughts and experiences. Pleasure: Sex, intimacy and fun. Monogamy: The only. Cooperation: Working together to make each other’s lives easier and better. Understanding: You may differ on issues but are still able to show empathy. Trust: Closing ones eyes and fall backwards knowing your partner is there to catch you. Responsibility: 100/100. Communication: Learning and knowing how to talk to each other. Adapting and Growing: Learning to navigate the changes in life together. Commitment: It’s you and me baby.

As a lifelong bachelorette who is nearing 40, I am getting hit from all sides from married couples about my single status. However, as I look at their relationship lives, I amass even more reservations on joining their ranks. As a single, I make an effort to enjoy my life and as I look at theirs here are the recurring themes I see: Boring: They rarely make time to do fun things together.  Sex and intimacy have started to dwindle significantly. Lack of cooperation between each other creates frustration, pent up anger and isolation. Inability to communicate their stressors or needs with each other. One spouse takes on more responsibilities than the other which creates stress and resentment. Flirtatious behaviors with someone not their spouse. Inability to listen and understand the other person’s needs. Third Party Interference: Everything is more important than your spouse-kids, the game, the other’s selfishness. Complaining about everything. Physical Neglect: Spouses stop taking the time to look good for each other. Loss of affection because of ongoing separation. Blaming: Its the other person’s fault. Infidelity: The misconception that starting with someone new will solve your problems.

Marriage gives couples a built in purpose to enjoy life and share that with someone who is sleeping right beside you. However, most couples have loss the insight about their purpose of marriage and ignore their ill-behaviors towards each other. I have sat through conversations in which a spouse will use sex as a weapon, one partner spends money recklessly, child care is only expected of one partner while the other occasionally ‘babysits, couples’ idea of spending time together is completing chores around the house every weekend. Date night is something they have on Valentine’s and Birthdays. Feeling sexy and being sexy is only for single people in new relationships. Communication is “I just can’t talk to him/her.”

Most singles are looking for a date to try out a new restaurant but many married couples, who have a built in date partner, have not gone out together unless it’s to Chucky Cheese or stay at home to enjoy take-out. Singles are sexually frustrated from an absence of a partner while married people have someone sleeping beside them every night and most can’t readily think of the last time they had sex much less enjoyable sex (you know…the one that does not feel like an obligation). A romantic night for a single involves fun; a romantic night for a couple involves the television. A single will feel lonely but s/he is a single, however, a spouse can feel isolated and lonely while staring across a table at their partner.

I am not naïve to expect married life to be daily fun and excitement. However, the repeated dullness and the habit of taking each other for granted tend to build over time until the marriage is “like living with a room mate” or “we are only together for the kids.” You would be surprise how many times I have heard similar statements. Relationships die over time from neglect. As I listen to the patients and to some of my friends, I start to see the early warning signs of the reasons why relationships fall apart.

As a single, I have started to ‘keep out of their business’ because I recognize that most couples do not appreciate the observations from those who are not married. What they fail to realize is that being married does not put you in a special behavioral category that only certain married people can understand. Behaviors are behaviors and it does not take a genius to see certain red flags.

I will always be baffled as to why people are so eager to be married but once they are in that situation they easily lose sight of the reason why they wanted to be married. The laziness, complacency, taking their partners for granted and neglect in putting effort into the relationship usually ends in disaster. It’s like having a million dollars in the bank but if you never use that money to buy groceries, then you will always be starving.

If anyone has ever done relationship counseling, then you will know that one question from the therapist will always be “What made you fall in love/want to be with that person?” The reason for such a question is to remind the couple about the purpose of their relationship, then to re-establish those feelings and ideas, and help them to proceed forward with those foundations at the forefront of the marriage.


4 thoughts on “What is the Purpose of Marriage?

  1. Hello,
    I am a young woman in my 20’s and I can’t seem to find how a marriage could thrive, especially in today’s times. Call me cynical but just considering how a male is “wired” makes it hard for me to see the good in marriage. Why would God make males this way? I can’t seem to look past the fact that men will lust after women, even after marriage. That to me scares me and makes me want to run from the thought of marriage. How does any woman “get over” the idea of knowing the man whom she loves or is interested in looks at other women, with some degree of sexual desire?

    1. Nalita, As much as I am skeptical about marriage according to what I see these day, I am also aware that there are good working marriages out there. For any relationship to work, it takes the full commitment of two people-in thoughts, words and most importantly action (in front of you and behind your back).

      That being said, just because a man is married does not mean he becomes dead to the fact that there are attractive women out there and vice versa. However, the concern is valid when a man or woman starts to put too much focus (more than a passing glance) on the opposite sex. When another woman starts to ‘replace’ his wife/girlfriend in anyway (how he talks about other women, fantasy, lingering thoughts, long stares/easily distracted by other women) then he is not fully ready for a long term relationship with anyone.

      There are men out there who are committed and focused on the woman they are with and you will know by his actions and how he talks about just you to others. It is also helpful to look at his history with women – was he a monogamous guy, play boy, womanizer etc.

      A woman should not “get over” anything if she has concerns. Too often we ignore our gut feelings which are often times warning signs that we are avoiding. If you do not fully trust someone, then that is a problem one should never ignore just because you have romantic feelings for someone.

      Finding a SUITABLE partner will take time-varies for everyone, however, most people are not willing to wait for 1. when they are fully ready for such a commitment and 2. for someone who is deserving of them. I would not say God created these traits in men but we as humans develop bad habits which are passed on as ‘wired.’ If that was the case that all men are wired the same, then all men would do the exact same things.

      I hope that helps.

      1. Harley, that does help. I guess a big part of this mentality I have comes from insecurity. I currently am in a long distance relationship and in our case, it’s hard for me to accept that I don’t know who they may be looking at, and what they are thinking in the process of that, etc. For me I can’t seem to seperate the fact that he’ll be sexually attracted to women, even if he doesn’t do anything to pursue that. To me it’s feels like the same thing, though it isn’t. All in all, relationships do seem risky. I concur with your thoughts.

        1. Long distance relationships pose an even greater challenge in getting to truly know someone. There is a larger degree of trust that comes into play because you are long distance and cannot fully share your life or participate in his life.

          I have great reservations with long distance relationship because I believe that you never get to fully experience the true person until you are with him in person for long periods. However, there are couples who make it work but again it requires total commitment from both party.

          I will always say, if you have concerns/insecurities etc about the person/the situation/yourself, then NEVER ignore it. Address it and resolve it. Suppressed concerns have a funny way of ALWAYS showing its face at a later date or in different ways.

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