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I was talking to Mr. P. the last night about a book I heard a podcast about, about why men are afraid of marriage & commitment, etc. Somewhere in the conversation, the phrase “marrying out of convenience” came up. It’s something that we sometimes joke about amongst ourselves, but it was interesting to me in light of my marriage kit interview with an elder at my church.

When asked what were not good reasons to get married, he mentioned marrying out of convenience, specifically monetary convenience. This struck a chord with me because I sometimes hear the opposite. People ask why don’t Mr. P & I just get married, since we both pay way too much rent and are barely making it. I’ve heard “it’s always better with two people working and sharing bills than just one.” They know that we are not going to “shack up,”  a decision that doesn’t make a lot of sense to them either, so the only legitimate way to live together and split the cost of living must immediately be entered into.

I have also heard several other reasons for people to go ahead and get married that have nothing to do with compatibility and everything to do with the fact that it’s convenient: wanting to have sex without sinning, because they’re pregnant, because they have a child together, because they are living together, because they grew up together and get along, because they want someone to take care of them, because they want someone to take care of,  because this person is the practical choice, etc. But are any of these convenient arrangements really convenient?

I am not one of those Westerners who believe that two people have to be wildly in love before marriage in order for the marriage to work. That’s what we do in America and as the statistics suggest, it’s a crapshoot. Sometimes you get lucky marrying for love and sometimes you don’t. I am more inclined to believe that there are other things that are more important to the survival of the relationship, as you can learn to love, and you have to keep choosing to love, but if other things aren’t present, there’s no point. Nothing forced, nothing false.

Arranged marriages work in other countries; why is that? Could it be that older people are better at figuring out what two people will work well together? Is it because the participants are bred to be married to each other? Is it because the culture is constructed in such a way that everyone is indoctrinated to believe that the practical aspects outweigh the romantic notions? Does their culture/religion trap them into these loveless marriages with no escape? Are Americans too vain & too concerned about superficial attributes, which leads us to marry the wrong people?

I am not answering any of those questions, because I don’t have any answers. But there has to be a better way to do things than they way we have been doing them–whether it’s marrying for love, superficial reasons, or convenience, people here still get divorced at alarming rates. Hopefully, at the end of this journey, I can tell you the common threads in successful marriages, and give you some perspective.

In the meantime, how do you feel about this whole marriage of convenience scenario? Does it only work as a Harlequin romance construct, or is there any possibility of longevity in it for us? What’s more important to you in marriage–love, convenience, or some other, more practical reason? Have you married for a primary reason other than love? Are you in an arranged marriage, or from a culture that arranges marriages? What makes it work (or not work)? Or, if you just want to give me crap about something else I’ve said. leave your two cents after the beep…