During the past few weeks, I have been thinking about marriage a lot. I am a married person. Ultimately, I’d like to know whether I made the right decision. And I want to set a benchmark for a good marriage, so that if my marriage ever turns bad, I could have the courage and wisdom to get out of it and know that I would do what makes sense. Therefore, I proposed to write about marriage and hopefully after gauging many different facets of marriage, I will have my answers.
First, I’d like to talk about the origin of marriage. If I google “origin of marriage”, what I find is a little disturbing. It says that “origin of marriage was to create a legal contract by which a man could acquire a female slave.” Throughout human history, it’s very obvious that women have been inferior to men, more so when marriage first started. If the power dynamic was favorable to men when marriage was first created, it’s probably safe to assume that as an institution, although might have helped women in some ways, marriage was primarily more advantageous to men than to women. As we can see in history, wives and concubines used to be husbands’ properties. In Chinese culture, women are tools for reproduction. If the wife couldn’t reproduce, she would definitely have a tough life in her family. But since women used to stay at home and not work, marriage could provide them with food, security and a shortcut to have a better life, which I do not see too different from slavery.
图 via 新华网
Nowadays, especially the past few decades, we have witnessed the drastic change in marriage. Not only do we see the shifted roles for husband and wife in a marriage, we also see that people marry for different reasons than their ancestors. Most women, at least in my circle, are independent, smart and strong. They no longer need a man for anything. Even if they want a kid, they can go to the sperm bank and get pregnant with the sperm they choose. We do not need men for basic needs. On the other hand, it hasn’t been a bliss for men. With more freedom and options to women, the relationship between a husband and a wife is much more equal in modern society. Since women do not need men for their basic needs, they can divorce them if they are mistreated, which in turn gives men less freedom compared to their ancestors. Cheating? Divorce. Domestic violence? Divorce. No common interests? Divorce.
Therefore, the divorce rate has increased and the marriage rate has decreased, according to the chart below. But it’s far from a stable state. In the ideal world where everyone knows what they are doing and are free from the influence of past belief and prejudice, and where the society has progressed enough to accommodate all forms of institutions, the marriage rate will drop and the divorce rate will drop as well until they reach an equilibrium. In that world, people marry for the right reason, people choose to be single for the right reason, on one will press you to marry because it’s the right thing to do, and no one will criticize you for being single because it’s a selfish thing to do.
The number of people tying the knot hit a record low of 257,700 in 2018, marking the seventh-straight year of decline.
Now that we have talked about the origin of marriage, it’s time for us to examine why people marry and why people not marry. What are the right reasons and what are the wrong reasons? I read a few articles and asked some people why they got married or why they don’t want to get married. The commonly listed reasons for people who want to get married are: 1. It’s time. 2. We love each other. 3. It’s convenient. 4. I want to have a kid and I want the kid to have a family with both parents. 5. I want to spend the rest of my life with this person. For those people who do not care about marriage, the top reasons are: 1. I do not need marriage.
▲ Korea fertility rate hits record 0.98 low (via sbs.com.au)
- The difference of a relationship with marriage and a relationship without marriage is only that piece of legal contract and it will only make things worse when divorce. 3. A good relationship do not need a marriage for proof. 4. Lots of marriages ended up in a divorce and I don’t need that stress in my life. 5. Marriage is anti-human-nature and it needs serious commitment. Freedom is more important to me than stability. What do you think? Do you think they are the right reasons? What are the right reasons to get married and what are the right reasons to be single?
To conclude that, I am going to deduce from the endgame of each case. First, let’s talk about the right reasons to get married. People make decision to have a better life. If we can have a better life by marrying a person, then it’d make sense to make that decision. For some people, the pool might be huge, meaning that 3 out of 10 men they meet will give them a better life if they marry them than if they stay single. For some people the pool might be really small, meaning that there’s only very few people in the entire world that would make their lives better if they marry them. Of course, some people may say that on one in the world can give them a better life and being single is the best life. But for the sake of this article, I think we mostly fall to the first or second category. Then, we need to consider the scenarios where marriage is better. Before we daydream about ideal marriages, let’s first consider ideal single life. Like in marriages people strive to make marriages work, single people also strive to make single lives work. If we are single for the rest of the life, what will be ideal?
Each year, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare tallies the number of marriages that took place in Japan between January and October. In 2017, approximately 607,000 couples tied the knot during that period, which was roughly 13,000 less than the same time frame in
I can’t answer this question for other people. But I will try to answer this question for myself. What would I do to have a great single life and what does it look like?
- This was the fifth straight annual decline, and the lowest number of people getting married since the end of World War II.
Build and maintain my friendship and communities, or if I have a partner, I will build that relationship. Support system is crucial to a human living in a society. We all collapse sometimes, and our friends are there to take care of us. Even as a married person, I think friends are very very important. I do not want my husband to share all my emotional burdens, and I do not want to my husband to be my only support. But if I am to have a good single life, a reliable friendship and a vibrant community are even more indispensable. I will take lots of time and energy to build them.
Nourish from personal hobbies. Single people have more freedom to develop their personal interests. Although I do not feel at all constrained in my marriage to develop my interests, I could still feel the obstruction. The opportunity cost to playing my harp, or to study programming might be spending less quality time with my husband. My priority will automatically shift when making a decision to allocate my time. But if I was single, it makes sense to spend more time on things I am passionate about and fulfill the could-have-been lonely moments.
I will definitely not waste my energy on endless dating. A few weeks ago before I was thinking about this topic, I thought that being single is great because single people can date all the time. I think dating is fun. I have never really dated that much in my life. So I didn’t know how stressful and frustrating dating can be. True, I may still want to have a relationship. But if I choose to be single, I am also capable of having a happy life without a relationship. Therefore, it would be logical to not actively engage in dating, but to expand my circles and attend different parties to know more people. This way, I won’t waste my emotional energy on unworthy people and only engage when I am enthusiastic about it.
If I do those 3 things, I think my single life will be okay. It will be stable because of the friend/community, fulfilling because of personal interests and it will be a good shield against wasting my emotional energy on dating. As to answer what are the right reasons to be single, I don’t think it’s necessary. Most single people are single for the right reasons. The society has made it much harder for single people than married people. Single people have to make lots of sense to be single. But married people often enter marriages for the wrong reasons.
▲ Fewer Japanese people got married last year than any time since the end of World War II (via japantoday.com)
So next, I will try to answer how to have a happy marriage and how it looks. From my personal experience, a rule of thumb for a happy / sustainable relationship is the sum of growth emotional stability. I think my life quality has jumped since marriage. I am a much more mature and sensible person than I once was. I spend much more time on meaningful things like instruments, programming and exercises than I once was. Ideally, I should have all that before getting into marriage so that the decision will be based on right things. But that’s another topic. To be fair though, I don’t think all my growth comes from marriage. To some extent, my growth comes from a stable job, more personal time (I spent too much time on relationships before) and studying new things from talking to people and reading. Does marriage help though? Yes it helps a ton. Stability and security made me worry less about things I shouldn’t have worried too much in the first place. And a couple is like a team. Some people will be better at doing certain things and other people are better at doing other things. That’s the basic idea behind Adam Smith’s comparable advantages and international trade. For example, I don’t know how to fix bikes. I don’t like to deal with garbage. I hate to think about taxes. But I DO NOT need to do anything of these things in my marriage! It’s great. It also feels great when you can ask your partner to open things for you when you are too weak to open it yourself. Those small things add up. In fact, whenever I need a man to do something I can’t do, I feel the importance of having a husband. Of course, having a partner will also solve those little things. But beyond that, husband is a bigger motivation for doing lots of things as well. For example, when I decide to move to Boston, my husband’s attitude is critical. If he’s not okay to move with me, I will keep trying to find a job in New York. A good partner can be a person’s entire support and we will have the courage to start a new life in a different place just because you have your partner to trust and rely on. And you know that no matter what happens, your husband will always be there for you, and that they are legally responsible for our lives. With a partner, sometimes we can be weak and we can hide, but we know it’s okay because your partner will protect us and will not leave us because of that deep commitment and strong love, as what marriage suggests.
We are all humans and we are not always strong and brave. We can get emotional and we can feel powerless. But it’s okay if we have a good marriage, because they are the strongest support people have created. It won’t fail us if we choose the right one.
二零一八年十二月英帝国宣告的一份数据体现这个国家异性成婚率已是历史最低水平（an all-time low）。
Then what are the good reasons to get married? Here are my reasons: 1. Both people have the deep commitment to the marriage. 2. They share similar values. 3. You can trust each other and communicate with each other. 4. You deeply care about each other. I don’t want to use the word love simply because in my opinion, love is not a perpetual thing and is confused with so many other words like crush, like and chemistry. But if you deeply care about each other, that’s love. 5. You are still free people in marriage and don’t feel obligated to do anything.
Lastly, let me finish this article by answering the questions I proposed in the beginning. Did I make the right decision? What’s a benchmark of a good marriage? I think I made the right decision because my life is better since marriage. I have also put forward a few standards of a good marriage that I think can apply to lots of people, even single people who want to be single.
图 via dailymail
In the end, let me express my gratitude to all the people I had meaningful conversations with about marriage. It’s important to me that I have thought about marriage and made an initial attempt to answer some questions I didn’t think about before. Hope what I wrote can be of some help to you.
Today an unprecedented portion of millennials will remain unmarried through age 40, a recent Urban Institute report predicted.
According to a report released last month by the Pew Research Center, 25 percent of millennials are likely to never be married.
▲ NowUKnow: Why Millennials Refuse to Get Married (via Bentley University)
Young adults today have low marriage rates, and economic security may play an important role in their likelihood to marry.
Specifically, full-time employment, median annual wages for all types of workers, and owning a home were associated with higher marriage rates.
At the same time, the poverty status of women, high housing costs, and living in the home of a parent were associated with lower marriage rates across counties.
The findings suggest that the economic characteristics of both men and women matter to marriage among young adults today.
▲ For Young Adults, Economic Security Matters for Marriage (via census.gov)
Although people say they marry for love, the economic pressures on the millennial generation appear to weigh on their ability -- or willingness -- to get hitched, the Census found last year.
▲ How marriage became a status symbol for millennials (via cbsnews)
截图 via 微博
People like to say that being single is better than being in a bad relationship. But for me, it is also better than being in a good one. Single life is my most meaningful life.
Single life just feels right to me. I don’t fear loneliness; instead I savor the solitude of my life. Every day, when I wake up in a place of my own with no one else there, I can hardly believe my great fortune. I can pursue the work I care about passionately. I can see friends or spend days at a time on my own, walking the spectacular bluffs near my home, browsing the farmers markets and preparing fresh and flavorful meals from their offerings.
▲ I’m better off single. You might be, too. (viaWashington Post)
People like me who have chosen single life face odd pockets of resistance. Some people refuse to believe we exist. Some insist that we are not “really” happy – we just tell ourselves that we are.
Happy single people are a threat to a cherished worldview promising that, if you get married and stay that way, all of your dreams will come true. You will be happier and healthier, and probably morally superior, too. From that perspective, living single is sad. But it isn’t.
And neither is getting married. What is truly sad is living the life you think you should live, rather than the one that suits you best.
▲ I’m better off single. You might be, too. (via Washington Post)
资料：Washington Post, cbsnews, census.gov, japantoday, sbs.com.au, Bentley University