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.
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.
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.
On Maintaining Trust
- 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?
Trustis crucial and indispensable in maintaining a relationship.
Without trust, wecannot get along well with other people, let alone
cooperate with them or gethelp from them. People are social animals.
Without interacting with otherpeople, life would be dull and
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?
Nowadays,the whole society is faced with “credit crisis”. We become
unwillingly tobelieve the governments, friends, colleagues and
strangers. This poses a greatthreat to the building of a harmonious
society. And sometimes, we even believedthat we might be deceived if we
trust too much. But in our everyday life, if wedon’t trust other people,
we could live in torment. Since trust is of greatsignificance, what
should we do to improve our sense of trust? First of all, wecannot lie
to those who trust us. Secondly, it’s never too late to apologize
toothers for our mistakes. What’s more, we should strike a trust balance
between ourselves and others。“Love all, trust a few, do wrong to
none。” should be our ultimate goal。
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?
Theperfect way to make a man trustworthy is to trust him, and to let
him know thatyou trust him。
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.
On Maintaining Trust
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.