Marriage has been highly esteemed in society as the end-goal to serious relationships and a safe and structured setting for raising children, aside from the traditional aspect of it as a means of wealth, status quo and social security.
But the trend with the millennial generation of couples is pursuing committed long-term relationships without marriage.
In South Africa, the Marriages and Divorces study for 2014 by Statistics South Africa showed that fewer people are getting married now compared to 10 years ago while divorce rates are on the rise. This follows global trends of couples choosing to remain together but unwed and spouses choosing to end marriages they no longer want to be in.
I never really thought much about marriage outside of the norms I was socialized into, which are that after graduating from university and making a success out of my career preferably after the age of 25, I would find a loving partner who I would date for at least 4 years before getting married and having kids.
Marriage has always been portrayed as the ultimate end to long-term relationships, and according to most religious beliefs, a space where one should explore their sexuality as it is a God-ordained, committed and safe environment to do so.
I never really questioned these norms in my early 20s because I was too busy with college, working insane hours trying to pay off my student loans while carving out a career for myself, club hopping on free weekends and just enjoying my newfound freedom. I’m asking questions now because I’m not too sure if marriage will provide the much-talked about relationship security and commitment.
According to research done by various psychologists, some people don’t want to get married because of experiences with divorce, either their own or their parents’ divorce, while some have elements of commitment-phobia. Others believe that true commitment to a partner is a choice and that marriage doesn’t necessarily safe-proof a relationship, but rather being with your partner through good and bad times, sharing a life and having a family with them is more important.
A lot of research has released results that often frown upon cohabitation, ie: couples living together without being married, saying these relationships are more prone to break up. However some experts say that couples living together break up due to a lack of communication about expectations of the relationship, or they get married out of obligation rather than love and end up getting divorced. Psychologists have also noted from unwed couples that what keeps them together is firstly their relationship and their commitment to it and love for each other, and secondly the family and life they’re building together.
For more on this topic, see this article from the Sydney Morning Herald.
What are your thoughts on choosing to remain unwed in a committed long-term relationship and marriage?
*image from Pexels.