Beyonce said if you liked it, then you should’ve put a ring on it. But for once in her life, Beyonce is wrong. You shouldn’t have to get married to show someone you love them. The whole concept of marriage is pointless and outdated.
When I was younger, I wanted a big white wedding. I wanted to find my soulmate, wear a fluffy white dress and have more people in attendance than I could count. But growing up and realizing the bigger commitments that come from that big white wedding, it’s no longer something I see myself doing.
And people in my generation feel the same. Millennials and Generation Z, unlike Baby Boomers and Gen X, are choosing to prioritize having healthy and loving relationships instead of rushing them, even if it means getting married later.
We’re postponing life events that older generations used to do in their 20s—such as getting married and buying a house—to our 30s, or not doing them at all. So with society ever-changing, isn’t it time we move on from something as old-fashioned as marriage as well?
Getting married has religious roots and cultural expectations, and it used to be that people had to get married to start a family. Children of unwed parents would otherwise be considered “bastards” and ostracized from society.
But it’s not the 18th century anymore. Most people don’t wait until marriage to have sex, and, excluding very religious communities, no one cares if your parents are married or not.
Women also don’t have to fit into the mold we once did. Women can have jobs, vote, and are practically equal to men, at least in American society. We don’t rely upon marriage and a husband to carry us through life anymore.
Essentially, modernized marriage has just become an antiquated symbol of commitment, a way to make it clear to your significant other that they are special to you. But if your partner needs a ring on their finger to stay faithful to you, that’s probably an issue that a big white wedding won’t solve.
So why do we keep getting married then? Is it for tax benefits or something more?
I think one of the main reasons is social pressures: when we show up to the dining table at Thanksgiving or Christmas, we’re attacked with inquires of our romantic life. In elementary school, they ask if you have a crush on anyone. In high school, they ask if you’re dating anyone. And when you’re an adult, they want to know when you’re getting engaged.
And it’s not just our families. In relationships, there’s a looming question between the couple: When are you popping the question? Are you going to do it? Do I have to?
But marriage is scary and full of potential consequences. Baby Boomers and Gen X, the parents of millennials and Gen Z, skyrocketed the divorce rate, and now over half of marriages in the U.S. end in divorce.
Some of the younger generations, having seen their parents get divorced and experienced the ramifications firsthand, are wary of marriage and the commitment that accompanies it. Millennial marriages usually happen when the couple is older and more financially stable, and the marriages usually come with a prenup.
So, because of these risks, you might decide you don’t have to tie the knot to be happy together. Why spend $50,000 on one day, all for very little impact? Even if they still want to have a wedding, they might decide it’s better to elope or wait a couple years.
But societal norms pressure them to get hitched, now, because our society idolizes a culture where you fall in love, get engaged, get married and have a happy ever after.
Of course, it’s definitely okay to want to get married, because for many people it’s a way to show your loved one commitment. If it’s what you want, and no one else is swaying you, it’s great.
Nevertheless, there are a multitude of reasons that someone wouldn’t want to get married, and their choice shouldn’t be stigmatized in the way it currently is. It’s the 21st century, and we should move on from this outdated tradition and not make it an expectation for ourselves or others. Even if you love your partner, you might want to stay financially independent. You might not want to risk the downfall of a great relationship. You might realize a piece of paper and a shiny ring aren’t necessary to show someone you love them. You might just not want to conform to an outdated institution, and I think that’s perfectly fine.