The Right and Wrong Reasons to Get Married

reasons to get married

Illustration: Ashley Nicole Deleon. © The Spruce, 2018

With the divorce rate as high as it is, you want to give your union the best chance of surviving for the long haul. Therefore, if you are considering marriage, make sure you are getting married for the "right" reasons and not for "wrong" ones. It seems many have doubts right up to their planned wedding day yet go through with it anyway. 

In her article for, The Shocking Truth for Thirty Percent of Divorced Women (2011), social worker Jennifer Gauvain writes, "If you take 10 divorced women and ask them whether they believed on their wedding day that they were marrying the right guy for the right reasons, seven of them would say yes, and three will confess they had serious doubts long before walking down the aisle. That's the shocking truth for 30% of divorced women."  

Hearing statistics like that sound shocking in this day and age. We choose whom to marry, yet many people in retrospect knew they should not get married before their wedding day. Don't become a statistic like this one!

Wrong Reasons

  • You feel too guilty or ashamed to back out when plagued with doubt. 
  • You are willing to gamble on your future spouse changing or having potential. 
  • To be free from parents.
  • To have sex.
  • To ease loneliness.
  • To be happy.
  • To show you are an adult.
  • Because of a pregnancy.
  • Just because he or she loves you.
  • To save, rescue, or help someone.
  • Because you want a baby.
  • For money.
  • Because all your friends are married.
  • You've always wanted a fancy wedding. Or to wear a fancy dress.
  • Out of fear that no one else will want to marry you.
  • You think you are running out of time to get married.
  • To have someone to "complete" you.
  • For immigration purposes.
  • You are tired of being single.
  • Someone is pressuring you into getting married.
  • You don't want people gossiping about the two of you living together.
  • To get health or insurance benefits from the spouse's employer.

Right Reasons

  • You are in love with one another.
  • A desire to share your life with another.
  • To have a lifetime companion.
  • You both have realistic expectations and shared goals.
  • You would feel comfortable doing premarital counseling to make certain this is the right choice. 
  • You want to feel connected with a person you love and to grow with that person emotionally.
  • Willingness to be there for one another while you each fulfill your own needs and dreams.
  • You both do not have blinders on and have spent enough time together to know it's the right choice.

Assessing Your Reasons

The best time to take a hard look at your motivations for wanting to get married is before you have given your answer to a proposal or made a marriage proposal. If you find yourself contemplating marriage with the person, you are dating or living with, stop, and ask yourself why. Cold feet might amount to nothing, but it may also be that you need to take a serious look at this critical decision you are making in your life. 

If you have already made the proposal or accepted one, you owe it to your betrothed to analyze your motivation and have that person do likewise. It may feel traumatic calling off the engagement, but it at least can be done without the legal hassle and expense of a divorce.

Set aside time to make up your list of reasons for wanting to get married and compare them with the two lists above. You may identify with items on both lists. It can help if you assign each a number from one to five and see which reasons outweigh the others. If all of your reasons fall on the wrong side, that is a clear indication that the time is not right. A longer period of engagement or time spent dating might be the right course of action.