Americans are married to the concept of getting hitched for love. The idea of marrying for any other reason is suspect at the very least. Most would find the idea shallow, manipulative, and wrong. Originally marriage wasn’t for love but for the consolidation of power, for safety, financial well-being and more. In the olden days most people married out of necessity. They needed to create a stable home. It was a practical decision rather than an emotional one. Children were a family made labor force to work the farm. Today, the opposite is true. Those who aren’t financially well off often delay marriage as it brings with it undue costs of a wedding, honeymoon and so on. It was only in the Victorian Era and the onset of the Industrial Revolution that people began marrying for love. The 1970’s brought more of an emphasis on happiness as the ultimate goal in life. No-fault divorce laws in that same decade saw divorce skyrocket. Some experts believe that this emphasis on happiness put too much strain on the institution of marriage, causing far more divorces than ever before.
But love today is not enough for a marriage to work. A spouse has to be financially responsible. Carrying someone else’s debt will put a serious damper on your future together, should you want to buy a house, a new car, get a business loan and keep your expenses low. There should be mutual respect, trust, support and a deep sense of responsibility to one another. The person should be a good parent, should you two decide that you want children. Looking for “the one” may indeed be a fallacy born out of a recent time in history. So many people think they find their soul mate, only to realize years later that they are growing apart. Some people call it settling. Love certainly is important, but it isn’t the only factor. If you are in love with someone who has serious issues like addiction, commitment issues, or serious personality problems no matter how much you love them, these issues will tear the two of you apart. Even if you are attempting to marry for love, you need to know that your future spouse has the all the other traits to make the marriage successful. You also need to have common mores, common interests, shared values and a similar view of your future together. If love is the only bond it is tenuous and if it fades, the marriage is lost. Think of a successful marriage as the culmination of a variety of common traits, not just one. For more guidance on whether or not you should get married, read the advice of H. Norman Wright and Wes Roberts in their book, Before You Say “I Do”: A Marriage Preparation Manual for Couples.