Does marriage always have to be the end goal

Hi Evan: longtime reader, first time writer.

I feel like a lot of your advice and posts revolve around a central concept that MARRIAGE is the end line, the goal, the thing that “everyone wants” as a goal to long-term dating.

But what if it isn’t? My boyfriend and I have been together for 10 months, it’s going fabulously and both of us have pretty much decided that we don’t believe in the institution of marriage (neither of us want kids, which makes this conversation a bit easier than couples who do want kids, granted), but we DO believe in the value of having a long-term partner/teammate/lover in life. This view jibes with our way of thinking – we’re both independent, and “putting something on paper” and tying things up legally like that, makes us both think that something, that special spark we have, will make it wither up and die.

So my question is, is there room in your community for a view of love like this, and why does everything you say always have MARRIAGE in big bold letters as the metric to success? I enjoy your writing and your insights and humor so much, but I feel like this is an area where we don’t jibe and it frankly kind of alienates me from a lot of what you say, as this is not my own end goal. Having lasting love, yes. But why is the ring / paper so important; how/why is that “proof”? I don’t think it is.

I’m wondering if you have other readers that might feel the same way as I. That is, the whole end goal = marriage thing seems a bit too…..I dunno, conservative…unimaginative…enough for a modern era.

Thanks for your thoughts on this!
Joanne

Dear Joanne,

I recently wrote a post about a woman who was formerly against marriage (after a painful divorce), who changed her mind when she fell in love with a new boyfriend (who is still against marriage). I outlined a few of my thoughts there, and encourage you to click through to read in full.

If my advice doesn’t work for you, then you can ignore it. Really. I don’t take it personally.

But your question is a good one, because it gets to the heart of what frustrates me about writing a blog that is probably going to reach 10 million readers this year – no matter what I say, no matter how spot-on, no matter how many people agree with my worldview, there’s always going to be someone who disagrees. And not only disagrees, but feels personally indicted that a public figure is publically disagreeing.

Understandably. Nobody wants to have his/her worldview taken away, challenged, or questioned. My answer to those semi-frequent loud dissenters is usually the same.

If my advice doesn’t work for you, then you can ignore it. Really. I don’t take it personally.

I have had men argue with me, explaining why it was entirely appropriate to bring flowers on every first date – even when most women were creeped out. I’ve had women argue with me, explaining why men should give up pornography – even though most men use pornography. I’ve had women argue with me, explaining why men should never go out with them or sleep with them, unless they are emotionally healthy, relationship oriented and positive they want to get married – even though most men don’t qualify on all three accounts.

In every instance, the dissenter is telling me that his/her worldview is right, that those who disagree with him/her are wrong, and that the world should change to better cater to his/her point of view.

Yeah, sorry, but that’s not how it works.

I’m a realist. A pragmatist. A big data guy.

So if you want to hold out for a man who doesn’t believe in premarital sex, that’s fine. Just know you’re dealing with 3% of the population.

If you want to hold out for a man who’s over 6 feet tall, because height is that important to you, you’re dealing with 15% of the population.

If you want to hold out for a man who has an advanced degree, and you’re dealing with 7% of the population.

Literally the only reason I talk about marriage as the end game for most people is that, in fact, marriage is the end-game for most people.

My advice is always going to be the same: lasting love is hard to find. If you can find room for compromise, you can have an amazing relationship. But if you want the six-foot tall guy who also has an advanced degree, and also is cool with not having sex until marriage, you may have a harder time dating.

There’s no judgment there. Just an observation.

And so it goes for you, Joanne. I could not care less whether you get married one day – the same way I don’t care who has premarital sex, watches porn, or cheats on their spouses. All I want is for readers to know how their own preferences restrict their own relationship choices.

So am I happily married? Yes.
Am I pro-marriage? I suppose so.
Am I judgmental of those who don’t want to get married? Not really. I don’t fully understand what you’re rebelling against, but hey, it’s a free country: do whatever you like.

Literally the only reason I talk about marriage as the end game for most people is that, in fact, marriage is the end-game for most people. That’s not my bias. Those are the facts. 80% get married by 40 and 95% get married by the age of 55 – and no one is pointing a gun to their head.

While views on marriage are changing – younger generations view it as less important – it is far from obsolete, and you will find more marriage-oriented men on the market than 50-year-relationship-without-a-ring men.

However, if you found one, and you’re happy with your choice, I sincerely wish you all the best.