Perhaps you've heard people remark that marriage is "just a piece of paper." This downplaying of such a significant part of life makes cohabiting or other more casual family situations seem more appropriate.
So does marriage matter? Does it really make that big of a difference? Or is it really just a piece of paper as some believe?
"No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice and family," stated Justice Anthony Kennedy. There is a higher level of committment that usually accompanies marriage - a greater devotion to each other.
Love, fidelity and devotion to your spouse
Marriage is a higher level of committment to your relationship than just dating or cohabiting. It's a major step in a relationship that requires love, turning away from all other romantic relationships, relying on each other and making the decision to work through hard times together.
When you are married, you look to none other than your spouse for intimacy and deep emotional connections. Seeking extramarital relationships is not OK and should be avoided at all costs.
Within a marriage relationship lies the strongest possible bond with another person. You share your lives, bodies, house, finances, children and your most vulnerable moments with your spouse and no one else. Sometimes you get angry, but you forgive. You struggle through hardships together, which brings you closer to each other. You don't just give up when things are hard, because of promises you made to each other on your wedding day. Hopefully, you married your best friend, or your spouse has become your best friend.
In a New York Times article, scholar W. Bradford Wilcox stated, "Even today, when marriage is less likely to guide our lives, relationships and families, it's still the case that it is without peer when it comes to calling forth the best in our relational lives."
There is no place for selfishness within a marriage. You must be willing to sacrifice what you want for what is best. You have to make compromises to come to an agreement as a couple. This doesn't mean sacrificing standards or things that are truly important to you, but it will take communication and understanding to work it out and decide what is best for the relationship.
Families are more stable when the parents are married. Wilcox stated, "... families formed by marriage are more likely to go the distance than families formed outside of marriage. Children born to married families are much more likely to see their parents stick together, compared to children born to cohabiting couples."
Though there are a lot of factors that play into the success of a marriage and family, committment and willingness to work together plays a huge role. A family unit, built on love and hard work, can provide a stable environment that helps children feel safe, loved and cared for. Likewise, the husband and wife also need to feel appreciated, loved, needed and cared about as individuals.
It takes a village ...
People aren't around for your first date, you first kiss or when you get engaged. But, they are there when you get married. Friends, family, co-workers, church acquaintances and neighbors offer support on your wedding day. They celebrate with you and often bring gifts to help you start your lives together. They offer advice and love. This is a huge support system of people who are rooting for your marriage. They want your marriage to be a happy one that lasts through trials and hardships.
If you treat marriage like it's a piece of paper, then it will be easy to throw away like one. Marriage is more than just paperwork and a ceremony. It is a committment. It is making a promise to one person that you will be together no matter what. Marriage means you will work through problems together, continually court each other to stay in love and will strive to improve your own faults and flaws.