Reasons To (Not) Get Married

Lots of people have been mulling over this business of marriage recently. Okay, not so recently, but I’ve only just got back into the blog-reading thing. So, SternGrad lists 101 reasons to get married, to which CoralCap replies with 101 reasons not to. Harryer says he’s given up on figuring out why to get married, he’s just doing it because he’s pretty sure it’s a good idea, just don’t ask him for details.

Why do you want to get married? Well, I’ve asked that one before, with mixed results. And I really would like to know. To me, inertia seems the most natural course. It’s easier and more convenient to not get married. Especially when you’re an Orthodox Jew and can easily coast through the rest of your life without ever meeting another eligible bachelor of the right background. Which is why I compiled a list of reasons to get married. Because it seemed necessary.

But seriously. Why do I want to get married? The question is harder to answer than at first appears.

aminspiration mentioned a story wherein a bochur, asked why he wanted to get married, gave the pat answer, “To give.” To which he was told, “So give to the whales.” On the one hand, the guy deserved that answer. Life isn’t high school. You can’t live according to the teacher-pleasing textbook answer. On the other hand, the rabbi was being unfair as well. The nature of the giving one anticipates for marriage is quite different than that one heaps upon whales. A spouse is someone to whom you express love and affection – something in which you are severely limited in your real life company, let alone the whales.

It’s like Friendship: Extreme Edition, where you give and accommodate because you think the other person is worth the effort. You’ve thrown your lots in life together, hitched your wagons, tied the knot. You face the world together, united, arm in arm, ready to tackled the tougher challenges of family with a two-person team. When both parties are dedicated to working together, marriage is beautiful.

And don’t forget the family part. Kinfauna are nice, but they’re not yours. Your role is more to spoil them and play with them than to actively raise them. Comparing kinfauna to having your own family is like comparing buying a sports car to personally building your own hot rod. Yeah, Best4’s kids are probably a better make and model, but mine will be mine.

Finally, because there must be something to it. (I guess I’m with Harryer in this one.) For all the jokes about the MMRC, I can’t believe people keep getting married purely out of habit. The family unit is something important, a little community inside community, a cozy circle that roots you and gives you direction.


Or maybe there’s something else to it.

I don’t know, but I’d like to find out.


16 thoughts on “Reasons To (Not) Get Married

  1. Bimhera b’yamenu – now you just need to find someone who is on the right level to see eye-to-eye with the original Bad4.
    Hope the search goes smoothly!!!

  2. Personally I saw no reason to get married until I met my husband. Prior to that all I knew was being single so it made sense, and the likelihood of actually meeting someone who would make sense to me in all the ways I needed was seeming slimmer and slimmer, not to mention less and less necessary – after all, I was making a fine life for myself with my friends and job and if anything it seemed I would have to give up a whole lot and not get that much back.
    Now that I am married I can say that it was like starving myself because I assumed eating wasn’t all that special and just ignored the hunger pangs/became inured. Then you have a meal and you think, good lord this was what I needed! I am all for the life of the single person, and all the more so since it’s not in our control anyway, but I will say that having a best friend for life who matches me so incredibly well, having a partner to navigate life with, feeling settled and secure and comfortable and loved and taken care of (not to mention being all that for someone else) – well how could I have known, how could I have actually wanted that which I knew nothing about, but now that I do I marvel that I ever survived without it.

  3. Well said shani. Its hard to say why you should get married if you’ve never been married. Its like the gemara that lists what your mssing if don’t get married. Mi shedar blo isha…dar blo shalva, shalom, simcha etc. You don’t know what TRUE happiness and fulfillment is until you get married. Its more then just spending the rest of your life with someone, its sharing and building a life with someone. For me personally, after I got married, it was like, how did I get along without this for so long? Im yirtzah hashem you’ll get married soon bad4 so you can actually appreciate what I’m saying.
    As for the religious aspect of it, one doesn’t start his true spiritual journey in life without first getting married because that’s when the true tests of midot begin. As a matter of fact, torat nistar shouldn’t be learned by unmarried men because they lack the spiritual capacity to learn and understand such things without a spouse. Its much deeper then “I want to get married cause then ill have someone to cook for”.

  4. Wow, I feel very honored to be mentioned. Thank you. 🙂

    Bad4, I quite agree with you: “But seriously. Why do I want to get married? The question is harder to answer than at first appears.”

    In response to Shani “Personally I saw no reason to get married until I met my husband” and soul “Its hard to say why you should get married if you’ve never been married” I would have to say that people want things that they don’t have all the time. For example, it is not hard to say why you should want 1 billion dollars if you’ve never had 1 billion dollars, therefore it is not hard to say why you should get married if you’ve never been married.

    That is to say that the benefits and positive aspects of marriage are obvious even to single people, the same way that the benefits of 1 billion dollars are clear to people. I agree that you can’t fully understand the benefits of something until you experience it, but you can still have a pretty good idea. And in the case of marriage I believe one should have at least a general idea of what one is jumping into beforehand.

  5. I suppose this cannot be asked of men (since they have to do it, like the not eating pork thing).

    I was listening to a shiur by Rav Mayer Twersky (available on about what is avodas Hashem for women – one of them is chesed – to be Hashem’s emissary in giving love to others. (That is certainly not why a man would want to marry).

    But really – does having children really need to be said? Of course everyone (I think) wants a significant other at some point, but children is a big thing. Sure, I’m stricter with my kinfauna then my siblings are (and they adore me for it) but in the end, they go home and get their teeth rotted by their parents, to quote Bad4. Children can be possessions for only so long, and it won’t be easy, but the feeling of continuity very much needs to be fulfilled. My mark is on this earth because of my descendants.

  6. “In response to Shani “Personally I saw no reason to get married until I met my husband” and soul “Its hard to say why you should get married if you’ve never been married” I would have to say that people want things that they don’t have all the time.”

    Of course they do. I didn’t mean people who are single therefore can’t want to get married. I want lots of stuff I’ve never had. I just meant for me, personally, in response to the post, marriage was this abstract notion that seemed to be a lot of work with negligible pay in that I was in no position to see the benefits. Plenty of people around me did and do want to get married, I just couldn’t relate to that.

  7. Like sterngrad i am honored to be mentioned. Every stage of life has what to offer. There is a reason we are in it at this moment. We just have to seek and find.

  8. I don’t have much to say in response to bad4’s post, but do want to say I disagree with the comment that a person doesn’t fully get a chance to develop themselves until marriage (i.e. working on their middos). Every person is born with traits/flaws they need to work on–however is best suited for them to do so is the situation in life they are given. Yes, for some it is through marriage, but that’s not the only way. At best, it is a huge generalization to make a statement like that.

  9. I feel sad for you that the dating has gotten to such a point that your posts are filled with such negativity about marriage. you used to be funny and perceptive. now you sound negative and sharp. I have my own experiences with family who are dating for many many years and are not negative (but yes, in a lot of pain).
    did you go to religious high school? did you have years of education that taught hashkafa, emuna, and purpose in life? maybe you need to connect with someone wise (but not preachy) and be re-inspired. good luck

  10. Hey Lea,

    Careful what you say about men. Making ontological generalizations about gender like the one you leveled: chesed is “certainly not why a man would marry,” is really demeaning to all the males out there who want to marry for precisely that reason. Unless you had a particular male in mind, in which case you ought to wonder why he doesn’t care more about chesed.

  11. Furthermore, Lea,

    If you can’t ask a man why he’s getting married since he is commanded to marry, can we ask why you visit the sick or comfort the mourning? Is it true that because something is a mitzva you’re justified in not thinking about how you relate to the people it affects? I think not.

  12. I think as a single person you may have a list of reasons that you want to get married but as others have said, you can’t fully appreciate it until you are actually married. Of course as a single girl, I was dating and trying to get married but I never thoought it would be this good and while I was engaged I even remember being scared that I would miss my independent single life. What do I treasure in my marriage? A best friend, a partner in all decisions, my beautiful child, intimacy, love, my self esteem was significantly raised…

  13. Soul, if you think chesed is only helping the pitiful, and it’s not chesed when you help your spouse clear the table or wash the dishes, rethink.

  14. I don’t think that’s chesed any more than it’s chesed to do your chores at home. You married someone, you work together. :-/

    Disappointed – I don’t know what I wrote here that was so awful. As far as I know, I wrote an entirely pro-marriage post, preceded by reference to some facetious posts about why one would or would not want to get married.

    I think the whole conflict is due to a conflict in our natures. On the one hand, we have an innate selfish streak that points out that life alone means not having to please anyone. On the other hand, we’re social creatures who feel a need to help people and give to them. And marriage is a great way to express that.

  15. thanks for the mention. i was waiting for the response…

    even though a guy is technically commanded to have children, the individual reasons that motivate him are important for the young lady to know. if he expects her to be a trophy wife, she should know that. if he expects her to pop out children, hold a job, and raise the children while he learns, she should know that. if he expects a mutually beneficial relationship, where they raise the children together, while they both work, she should know that.

    I recently heard from a newly divorced woman that successful marriage is about having the same expectations for a marriage. so technically while he is commanded to have children (and therefore get married) she is not. she should be aware of what his reasons are, and how to reconcile/achieve them

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