Some people just don't want marriage, OK?
"When is it going to be YOUR turn?" — Anybody's Aunt at Any Wedding, USA.
If you're single, you may get the feeling there's a de facto assumption that marriage is everybody's goal in life.
You're not imagining things. There definitely is a broad cultural assumption going on. Or a few of them.
Oprah and Shonda Rimes noticed it, too, and had some observations.
Here are three misguided reasons you may hear from well-meaning people who think you should want to get married and some real talk from Oprah and Shonda. And at the very end, I'll give one great reason people should get married. HINT: It's not to wear a gorgeous dress, though I do love me a gorgeous dress.
1. Everybody wants love.
OK, connection and warmth and bonding is an important part of human health — that's true. But surprise! You can get those without marriage. You can get that with friendships, family relationships, and significant others (holy matrimony not required). You can even achieve that with pets. You can have lots of love in your heart and life, even if you're not married. Next!
2. Everyone deserves to be happy.
Well, yeah. But who says happiness comes with a ring on one's finger and a piece of paper legally conjoining two people? For some people, that's meaningful and important and something they really want. And for some people, their version of happiness doesn't include those things. Both ways are cool. But marriage retains the societal stamp of approval while everything else gets side-eyed as some "alternative lifestyle."
3. Not wanting marriage just means you're not ready to "settle down" yet.
There are ways to embrace a life of stability and commitment to the values that matter to you without needing to plunk one's self into a holy pairing in order to calm your wild oats or whatever. People buy houses on their own all the time. Some adopt or have kids as a single parent. Some love pursuing their career and/or life's calling and feel wedded to their "cause." That's a pretty good life, too, and not something anyone should have to defend or feel castigated from normal society for.
And this is all something Shonda and Oprah can speak to easily, as more mature women who've spent their lives pursuing things other than marriage. They spend some time pondering society's fixation with wedded bliss.
And here's the one and only reason, in my humble opinion, anyone should ever get married.
Sometimes you see a really great marriage, and it's striking what those ones have in common — each individual makes the other add up to more together than they could have been separately. That happens when there is a shared spirit of learning together, a growth mindset, and generosity and kindness.
If you believe you've found something like that and that putting a ring on it is what will complete the deal, then that's the best reason to marry.
This is the 21st century. As Oprah would say, live your best life, people!