Last week, Sharon Jayson of USA Today published an article exploring the reality that many couples get married even though they know they shouldn’t. Studies show that couples often get married without really thinking it through, or in spite of any lingering doubts. This happens even more often when couples live together (according to these studies).
Carl Weisman thought this was so interesting he went ahead and wrote a book about it called Serious Doubts: Why People Marry When They Know It Won’t Last. Weisman conducted a study surveying 1,036 people:
Those surveyed had one thing in common: ‘They all ignored their inner voice,’ he says. ‘They knew it wasn’t going to last.’ About half said they started thinking about getting divorced less than six months after the wedding, he adds.
Weisman goes on to list four somewhat vague categories of reasons people get married even though they know they shouldn’t:
• External pressures from parents, partner or others.
• Misguided motivations (infatuation, to escape parents).
• Personal beliefs (such as that the partner will “change”).
• Thinking they won’t find anyone else because of personality traits or low self-esteem.
And I thought we had all gotten a bit smarter when it comes to marriage. You’d think people would be making better choices as America becomes more and more liberated when it comes to things like marriage and families (I have faith that gay marriage will be socially and legally accepted relatively soon, but, yes, America still has a lot of changing to do). Instead, people still feel pressure to get married, even if it’s to the wrong person. One woman, cited in Jayson’s article, claimed that she married her husband because she would have felt bad for him if they broke up. What about the next fifty years you spend making yourself fee bad for marrying some one you don’t love? What about how bad he is going to feel when he has to get a legal divorce? That’s always a fun life accomplishment to have under your belt.
No, I get it. I’m pretty sure I have thought about marrying every single one of my boyfriends starting in 8th grade. But would I have actually gone through with it if that opportunity arose? That I don’t know, but I’d like to think I’m smarter than that. I’d like to think I’ve gotten smarter since 8th grade.
On my last note, I’d like to say how annoyed I get when studies about marriage take into consideration whether or not people live together. If living together is considered, then religious convictions should be considered as well. Why? Because most people—no, I’m not making a sweeping generalization here—who are morally or religiously against living together pre-marriage are also morally or religiously against divorce. Therefore these studies make no sense to me. Then again, marrying someone you don’t love doesn’t make sense to me either.