A woman I work with is getting married in a couple of weeks. She has been living with her fiance for a few years.
I mentioned that I thought marriage was different from cohabitating (disclosure: I lived with Honeybun for three years before we got married). The woman I work with is confident nothing will change after she gets married. I figure that if marriage wasn’t different, why would you need to do it?
So, what is it about marriage that is different from cohabitating? I haven’t really put it into words. I think it has something to do with commitment. Before being married, there is not as much a barrier to splitting up. You know you can leave at any time with no legal obligation except to split up any joint property.
Marriage has a much larger meaning. You have committed in front of God, friends, and family to stay together. That is pressure. You can’t just leave. Sure you can divorce but there is still a difference in this society between an ex-boyfriend/girlfriend and an ex-husband/wife.
I’ve also seen a study that shows married men earn more money than men who are not married (cohabitating or living alone). That indicates that marriage is different. It changes men at least so that they take more responsibility for the support of their family.
So what else is there about getting married that is different from living together?