Marriage is probably one of the oldest institutions of human civilization. The earliest marriages probably consisted of a man and a woman deciding to live together for purely material reasons: food, protection, and bearing children. At some point, the requirements evolved to include love and companionship. For many years, marriage has been held as a sacred institution above all question. In recent times, however, this institution has come under considerable scrutiny. With changing lifestyles and societal values, a growing demographic is looking at marriage as no more than an option; choosing instead an alternative lifestyle of cohabiting or staying single. While the orthodox population may raise eyebrows at this mindset, opponents of marriage have a lot to say about their views. And truth be told, there is some validity to both viewpoints.
Positive side of marriage:
First of all, let us see how the proponents defend marriage.
Marriage has a huge emotional impact on the persons entering into the institution. People in happy marriages are statistically seen to have longer healthier life spans. All humans look for stability and security, and that begins with the family. Getting married creates an emotional sense of stability and settlement, thanks to the preconceived notion of paring for life, which is highly beneficial for mental peace. Every human looks for love and companionship, and it is emotionally good to know that there is someone to share life experiences with.
Easier rearing of children
Statistically, it has been seen that a household with married partners create a better environment for a child to grow up in. While it is definitely not impossible to raise a child in a single pent household, it is certainly easier to do so in a home where there are two parents to take care of the child. Raising a child and managing a household is a huge responsibility, and having someone else to take care of some of the work certainly makes the job much easier.
Apart from raising a child, marriage also provides untold benefits when it comes to sharing responsibilities and finances. It becomes easier to manage a household when duties are shared, and there is legal binding to take financial responsibility. Finances can be shared as well, so that there is less pressure on each person. For instance, if one person takes a break from working, the other person can still manage the household expenses with their income.
Negative side of marriage:
There is, however, a lot of truth in what the opponents of marriage have to say as well.
Marriage is a legally binding contract, and the legal and financial implications might make many a couple hesitate to call it quits even when their relationship has fallen apart. This creates an extremely unhealthy atmosphere at home, not just for the partners, but also for the child, if any. Divorce proceedings are also pretty huge, taking into account lawyer fees, alimony, child support, and prenuptial agreements. Besides, a divorce is harrowing for everyone emotionally as well, and it takes quite some time to get over the trauma.
Marriages are definitely costly. The simplest of weddings happen to be a pretty costly affair, what with the venue and its decoration, the attire, the food and drinks, and the return gifts. If you do not own a home already, you need to buy one to shift into, or rent one, because your single person apartment might not be able to accommodate two people. And then there is the added, albeit welcome, expenses that children incur. And it is not just financial expenses that weddings incur; you also have to pay the price of your freedom to a certain extent, and of course the carefree lifestyle you possibly led when you were single.
Marriage brings with it a bunch of responsibilities that not everyone will be willing or ready to take up. You suddenly become responsible not just for yourself, but for another person, and then for two or more people when you have children. You need to take an active part in a two person household, keep tab on children, and mingle with your in laws, a whole different family. This can be a daunting prospect if you are not in the right frame of mind for it.
Marriage as an institution has been here a very long time, and will possibly continue to stay for some time more. It provides a sense of security, belonging, and ownership that few other institutions can provide. However, that does not at all mean that the choice to not marry is wrong. It is, after all, a very personal decision; if a person who cohabits or stays single is just as happy as the married couple, there is n reason why they would not continue their lifestyle. Like everything else, how a marriage affects a person depends entirely on the people who are in the marriage and how they handle their relationship status.