We are tugged back and forth in society over the holy matrimony known as marriage. We’ve all heard the cliché pokes about how it eventually becomes stale and static — making it seem like this trap that some of us commit to while others spare themselves from the life-long commitment. Those jokes are just small snippets of therapeutic confessions. If a couple isn’t willing to push through, the option of divorce can be emotionally and financially crippling. Whether we’re willing to acknowledge it or not, divorce is frowned upon; There is this hovering speculation that one person or the other did something unfathomable rather than taking into account that people merely change. We’ve met those couples who continue pushing the boulder up the hill even though being in each other’s presence is like pulling teeth. But then we see the couples enamored with each other — and the thought of being away from each other makes them ill. Most of us want that Nicholas Spark’s lifelong love, but do we need to always make it official in front of an altar? This lopsided perception of it all makes for quite the conundrum. Do we say I do, or do we run away in a cinematic fashion?

Some couples make that commitment without the marriage certificate. The legality of it isn’t their concern. People are often curious about the couples who make lifelong commitments without the piece of paper attached to it— but they have their reasons. But there are many convincing reasons on why people choose not to cross that marital threshold. They’re anything but crazy, and if anything, they’re expressing their freedom, protecting their emotions — and looking out for their finances in the event their partner ever has a change of heart.

Financial reasons can quickly steer the wedding train into a stalling locomotive. Simply put, love can be excessively expensive. According to businessinsider.com, the average wedding in America runs over thirty-thousand dollars depending on where you live in the United States. This only includes if it’s a successful marriage. On average, divorce fees can cost eight thousand to fifteen thousand dollars per person if there happens to be any disagreements, according to usatoday.com. It doesn’t even take into account that married couples pay more in taxes. Can you blame anyone for not agreeing to these terms? The legality of binding love, and ending your vows is more than the average American is willing to pay for a new car!

The sense of losing one’s identity is another reason why people don’t tie the knot. Sure, you can hyphen your last name and still keep your maiden name, but for some folks that just isn’t enough. The thought of being known as someone’s husband or someone’s wife rather than their own person makes them recoil. In the days of independence, staying unique and as one overpowers the need to be confined to a life of couple-ship. People feel stripped away of themselves and unwillingly bound within something that doesn’t define them as who they are. The social conformity of marriage is a drag to them, seeming dated, out of touch with contemporary constructs that are now more open to the thought of life-long partnership without the certificate. Without marriage, they feel there aren’t any barriers to a title preventing their personal growth — whether in their career or personal life. This includes the exclusion of children, a common factor associated with marriage.

Lack of trust in marriage can halt a wedding plan in its tracks. The insecurities surrounding marriage are justifiable, especially here in America. According to usatoday.com, the divorce rate stands at forty to fifty percent in the United States. The reasons that people don’t get married tend to be the reasons that marriages don’t work — financial reasons and change of heart. A combination of things in someone’s life can play a role in their outlook of relations such as childhood trauma, upbringing, past relationships, and emotional and physical abuse. This lack of trust doesn’t necessarily mean an individual is more or less likely to go through a separation, but may subconsciously be a safe route for them to possibly soften the blow if they are faced with emotional turmoil. Some people also may want an open relationship — leaving the opportunity to have other partners with no strings attached. They’re single at heart but love the idea of having a partner whom they can rely on emotionally and physically. It’s scrutinized from many parts of mainstream society and within the LGBTQ community, but it works for some. Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir are a prime example of a lasting open relationship — spending more than fifty years together, until Sartre’s death in 1980. Look up their story; it’s quite the interesting one!

There’s no room to judge someone based on what they believe when it comes to making a life commitment to one another. We watch people regret their decisions, those who try it several times, those who don’t believe in it and those who change their mind. Marriage caters to tradition, something that legally affirms a partnership is here to stay unless a separation process takes place. The beauty of individual freedom is we have a choice whether to commit or not — and that doesn’t mean that marriage has to be the catalyst for that commitment.

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