Just about everyone of us ends up getting married but how many of those marriages are happy and how many are regretted? The reasons for marriage have traditionally been to connect families or for religious dogma, however to a large extent these reasons are now redundant. A 'celebration of love' has taken the place of family and religion...well that and presents/social acceptance.
So is there any point to getting married, why would you want to spend a huge amount of money on one day to commit yourself to a bit of paper that doesn't have any benefit other than giving you the incentive not to split up as that bit of paper will be too expensive to rip up. Seriously if you decide to break up then you can still leave the agreement it will just cost you a hell of a lot more than if you hadn't bothered doing the whole marriage thing in the first place. Obviously this is a negative view on the outcome of the marriage however it highlights that marriage is only as permanent as you make it and the idea of marriage being a lifelong commitment is no longer a real concept.
Do you take this woman til death do you part...or until you realise you don't want to be with her anymore and decide to leave.
So what are the real reasons for marriage?
Marriage like most things is often done as its the socially accepted thing to do. Anyone over the age of about 28 or in a long term relationship will be familiar with pressure from others to conform to the social convention. Pressure comes from all angles but seems to be the favourite of families on both sides especially the older relatives who are already be married. For some reason the want you to be the same as them, marriage is just expected and so people conform instead of question.
This is a tough one, this isn't the fault of the couple but their parents and religious leaders. It is an example of connecting families as a reason for marriage but seems...crazy! There will be exceptions to this but the chance of remaining happily married to someone you enter the marriage barely knowing is unlikely. Enough marriages end up unhappy with both parties having a clear idea of what they are getting into without the added complication of the unknown. Historically these arrangements would have a financial benefit or would act as a way of making peace between families however religion now dominates as the motivation behind arranged marriages, well the social convention that come from religion at least.
The real reasons people get married
So the real reasons for getting married with the exception of arranged marriages. Well most couples do it because they are in love and it is what you are expected to do come a certain point in the relationship. However who is it that actually wants to get married, is it the bride the groom or both? Most girls dream of there wedding day and so there is an expectation that their partners will facilitate this hence pressure on the future groom to propose. If we are honest how much of marriage is giving the girl here day to wear her wedding dress? Would that same girl still want it so bad if you took away all the glitz of a wedding day? Probably not.
What we should really be doing
I propose a new convention, have the day that you celebrate but don't sign the paper. Do all the marriage stuff without the formality. By formality I mean no legal agreement and no religion, simply two people saying they intend to stay with each other in front of family and friends. That way the girl gets her day (plus her dress) and there is no religious, legal or financial barriers should you decide to split up.