Monday, December 25

Practically Speaking

Person A is happy single. He or she is doing perfectly well on their own and they have no need to get married. But all the same, they wouldn't mind marrying anyway - should they be open to a more practical solution, and get a spouse that just works on paper?

I mean, assuming they're not holding out for anyone in particular (a soulmate say), would you advise them to just get married, well, for the sake of it? Remember that although they don't need to get married, this in itself doesn't mean that they're averse to the idea. Perhaps they just don't mind either way. There's a subtle difference there.

There are some objective benefits to being married - a few years a go I would have cited tax breaks and things, but now it's more fuzzy like being able to share household chores, having company when going to the cinema or having a dual income with which to pay off a mortgage. And for some, having a home cooked meal or help with looking after parents is a bonus too.

Of course, I'm not suggesting marrying someone who will detracts from your quality of life, but surely it's better to live how you currently are, but with these added benefits rather than without? Getting married in such a way doesn't necessarily imply unhappiness, after all.

And people have been doing just that for generations now. Marriages have been taken place for political, theological and status reasons in the past - in fact, it might have been the norm rather than otherwise. And even today, we often hear of (and accept) people, usually women, who marry for financial or stability reasons and others who marry solely to make other people happy. So it may not be asking too much to start thinking practically and some might even argue that looking for romance is something that isn't a fundamental requirement of a marriage anyway.

But we haven't yet spoken about the second party in all of this: the spouse. In any such marriage they'd have to know the score and accept their place in this arrangement (and you know, sometimes a woman doesn't mind keeping a home just like a man doesn't mind working exclusively). So if they're expecting anything more from such a union it probably wouldn't work and for this reason a marriage of convenience would only be a good idea if both sides are equally going to refrain from investing too much of their emotional strength into it.

There seems to be quite a few upsides and very little downside to partaking in such a relationship; you would also have the added bonus of having people stop asking you when you're finally going to get married. So I guess the question it this, then: why wouldn't you?

Of course, the one big disadvantage is that, by definition, a marriage is a contract where you sign away your right to look for and even accidentally find someone you actually like. And it seems that, for some, just having the potential to do that is something that's worth much more than any practical benefit available if they instead took the plunge practically.

If you think about it, such a stance is pretty bizarre - waiting for something that might not happen instead of going for something quite available, advantageous and definite. But such is the nature of marriage and relationships, so I'm not sure we can criticise too harshly those who choose not to be practical with respect to this particular topic.