On the Fence About Marriage? Use This Pro/Con List to Figure It Out

These days everyone has strong opinions on the subject of marriage—who can and who cannot get married, who should and who should not—but for most of our six-year relationship, we felt pretty ambivalent about it. We talked about our plans for the future, but getting hitched wasn't a top priority because we didn't feel we needed to prove our love. Sometimes we were for marriage, and sometimes we were against it. 

So what helped us finally decide? A good ol’ fashioned pro/con list. If you're on the fence, this could help you out.

The Cons

1. It's Not Fair
Thankfully, same-sex marriage is now legal in all 50 states. But that's not the case in many countries around the world. There are so many rules and people who make the decisions regarding others' happiness. Part of our holdout was a protest against marriage inequalities here in the U.S.

2. You're Subject to Others' Expectations and Rules
Marriage binds your life's past, present, and future together. The legalities of it alone are daunting. When filling out tax forms, you no longer choose "single." You are responsible for someone else's behavior. Everything you save for and plan for is linked to what someone else is saving for and planning for. And then the church even has rules about what needs to be done. Never mind if your families are part of different denominations. It’s intrusive. Not being married is nice because we chose all the parameters of the relationship, and nobody (or nothing) else could come between us.

3. Marriage Seems Old-Fashioned
A person shouldn't have to bind themselves legally to their partner to prove love and monogamy. And historically, married women had fewer rights and it was used to establish the legitimacy of offspring...not to mention to clarify property rights. None of this applied to us, and we felt kind of gross about all of it.

4. Weddings Are Crazy-Expensive
Let's be real: Weddings are out of control and can cost way too much. It's already a big deal to decide to get married, but then you have to decide about how you're going to impress and honor all your friends and family, too. It brings on added stress in a time you just want to relax with each other. Thinking about the money needed, regardless of budget and size, is vexing for anyone.

5. The Divorce Rate Is Alarmingly High
It's hard to admit the influence that past family and friends' failed relationships has had on us, but we were there and we were affected. Growing up, it seemed like half of the kids we knew had divorced parents. We saw what these breakups did to many of the most beloved people in our lives. It’s tough to forget that and just go into marriage looking at the bright side.

6. Commitment Phobia Is a Real Thing
Forget about the legal, familial, and religious implications of marriage—just the concept of choosing a permanent roommate is daunting as hell. Think about going into an artesian ice cream shop and trying to decide on one flavor. It’s tough! Now, try to pick one flavor to have for the rest of your life...and take into account that smartphone apps now make it easy to get “other flavors” delivered to your doorstep.  That’s kind of what marriage felt like to us.

7. Marriage Could Change What's Already a Good Thing
This is a common complaint from longtime daters who refuse to get married. It seems like a weak argument, but it’s real. Successful relationships take a lot of time and negotiation. It’s like a very tall Jenga tower. Once you organize all the pieces in such a way one that works for both of you, it’s scary to pull another out and stack it on top.

8. Getting Hitched Won't Make People Shut Up
Once they're no longer preoccupied with the fact that you’re not married, people will start questioning when you’ll get knocked up. Even though we’ve made it clear to anyone who will listen that we’re choosing not to have children, people have said, “Well, you didn't think you would get married...” So once the wedding is over, prepare for your family to contract baby mania.

Ryan Mckee and Annie Worth ultimately decided to get married—by Elvis. Photograph courtesy of Brandon Lee

The Pros

1. You Have an "In Case of Emergency" Person
This might be a dark way to think, but if something happens, it’s complicated for unmarried partners to make important legal decisions. We were reminded of this when we had to sign documentation for visitor rights during a minor hospital procedure. What would we do in an emergency situation? We knew we were each other's first contact and wanted to make sure we were officially recognized as related. 

2. Other People View Your Relationship as More Legitimate
Until there’s a legal and/or religious declaration of your relationship, family just doesn’t take the other person as serious. For a long time, we were introduced as friends at family functions. A grandfather had once asked "How is your friend doing?" To which the reply was, "The one I live with?" We were always the couple who got stuck on the pullout couch at family vacations. It seemed ridiculous! The fact that we're now married helps them to understand that we are for real. The fact is that, no matter how we felt, they valued the bonds of marriage either for religious reasons or because of deep traditions. So the "welcome to the family" feeling really didn't happen for us until we said, "I do."

3. You Get Insurance and Tax Breaks
When discussing making changes or combining assets, we always thought it would be easier if we were married. This certainly isn’t the most romantic thing, but it’s the truth.  

4. You Get New Labels That Reflect the Seriousness of Your Relationship
We’d been together for over six years. We were changing our lives for each other. “Boyfriend” and “girlfriend” didn’t feel right anymore.  It actually started to sound like we were trying to be cutesy. So we thought of other ways to introduce each other that had more gravitas: partner, significant other, long-timer, common-law, the missus/mister, soul mate, lover, main squeeze...my plus one. But none of them really stuck. Husband and wife was the only title that reflected the status we felt we were already at.

5. If You're Lucky Enough to Be Able to Marry Your Love, Why Not Take Advantage of That Privilege?
With so many people in the world being told whom they have to marry and whom they cannot marry, it seemed absurd to overlook the opportunity. It took a friend pointing out the battle for legal same-sex marriage and another friend reminding us of her arranged marriage to put it in perspective. We were lucky and didn't want to make light of that.

6. Wedding Planning Is Fun
We are always looking for an excuse to celebrate, and we love a theme party. So what's better than planning a major life moment, like a wedding? Even just thinking about it gets the creative juices flowing and the enthusiasm pumping. Big or small, beach or mountain? It's just fun, and the high of it all lasts a while.

7. It Gives You a Chance to Celebrate Your Coupledom
A relationship is, as everyone says, hard work. We had been through so much together, and we were proud of where we landed and who we had become. It was time to honor that accomplishment.

8. Why the Eff Not?
Peer pressure is alive and well. Friends and family all have a stake in your happiness, and they are going to tell you when it's time for your major life decisions. For us, holidays started to become a game where we would bet on how many times people were going to ask when we were getting married. Friends started talking with us about our fear of commitment. And the whole time, we kept explaining our viewpoint. But after a while, it started to seem like we were just making excuses to put off the inevitable.

P.S.—We decided to go for it, and it isn't half bad.

Annie Worth and Ryan McKee are two married Aries and proud Arizona State University grads who live with their two dogs in East Hollywood.

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