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Why Get Married?

by Linda Jenkinson

wedding cake
Photo Credit: Splitshire

As sexuality becomes less inhibited, popping the question often becomes the question. Satirically put, "Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free? "

It turns out there are several practical reasons to "buy the cow." In his standup special The Comeback Kid1 comedian John Mulaney calls it "a bananas insulting expression… to an entire gender." He adds, "But also, it makes no sense. Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free? You’re not allowed to milk a cow that you don’t own. That’s not even a situation."

And Mulaney is right. It does make no sense.

  • Getting married takes some planning to get into and some planning to get out of. Having a relationship doesn’t.
  • Getting married is a commitment to work through life with another person. Having a relationship isn’t.
  • Marriage gives both parties legal rights to share possession of property, such as a home.
  • Having a relationship is like having a roommate.
  • Marriage is a commitment to share life responsibilities, material and familial.
  • Having a relationship isn’t.

How can you tell if the person you love will stay and put in the hard work happy, successful marriages need?

To begin, marriage doesn't have to be hard work. It is all in how you approach it. If you approach marriage as hard work then it will be hard and not be enjoyable for either of you. Approach marriage as an opportunity to merge your life with that of another and it can be a celebration of life at its best.

Is it work? Sometimes, but hardly hard work. In marriage, you have help coping with life's problems. Of course, the same can be true in a relationship. The difference is that in marriage, you have many practical reasons to stay and work out problems. The lack of legal commitment in relationships makes it easier to leave problems behind.

Of course, you can not predict the future of any relationship. Yet, getting married allows both parties some legal benefits not available to unmarried couples.

  1. To have the ability to make health decisions for your partner if he/she cannot make them for him/herself.
    • Families (next of kin) make any decisions about critical or long-term medical care. Partners cannot.
    • Hospitals may prohibit non-family from visiting critically ill patients.
  2. To insure that shared property remains in your possession if the worst happens.
    • If your partner dies, their family may or may not include you in memorial plans and decisions.
    • Relatives may dispose of all real and personal property at their discretion, unless a will specifies otherwise.
  3. In the US, tax credits and, for seniors, extra dependencies are available to married couples.
  4. For the sake of your children. Athough contemporary unmarried couples face less stigma than earlier generations, kids haven't changed. Today's kids, like yesterday's, will pick on whatever they can latch onto.
  5. For lower family health insurance rates
  6. For other insurance discounts
  7. For other financial survivorship benefits, such as pension and social security.


  1. The Comeback Kid is a Netflix Comedy Special