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Is The Goal Of A Relationship Marriage?

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Over the last few weeks I’ve been asked a lot about marriage and my responses have caught a few people off guard. I thought that would make for interesting conversation on SBM and many other outlets. Simply put, is there really a reason why we should all set our relationship goals on marriage? My answer is no. It’s such an archaic system that I don’t think anyone should make the goal of their relationship to be marriage. I think that a long term commitment to companionship is a better way to put it.

And let me say this, that’s a really hard message to convey to someone you’re dating because they’re most likely going to interpret that to mean that you don’t want to be married to them. However, let me explain what I believe about marriage and relationships in general; especially in the year 2015.



Let me start out by saying that for some people marriage works for them. It’s something that they enjoy and even in a traditional sense if both people are committed to the challenge and rewards of marriage then that’s what they should have. What I’ve found is that over the past 10-15 years marriage has become something of a pickle for people in America. Americans have responded as they should by making marriage work them instead of having the traditional norms of marriage determine how they should work within a marriage. I hope that we understand the difference.

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That leads me to believe that if you’re going to have a system of marriage in which people make those marriages work for them then you very well could have a system that makes relationships work for those people without actually having to have a marital commitment. Wait, I know the first flag that is raised is that people will say that, “Well you know a lot of benefits are only extended to people who are actually married.” Good point, however I would argue that people need to be diligent in fighting for those same rights outside of a marriage. It’s quite ridiculous that people are still letting the court system determine who they can consider family. To me it violates all of our civil rights to impose a system of marriage that is supposed to be based on love but rather based on taxes and human rights.

In my years here on earth, I have witnessed good marriages, bad marriages, people who never married but remained life partners, people who loved for many years and then went their separate way amicably, and people who just stayed single their whole life. What stayed the same and remained the most important factor is that the people who I admired the most were the ones who were happy. I think happiness comes first, I think the person who you want to share your happiness with comes second and then everything else. A lot of times we put those things in the wrong order.

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People set out on a mission to get married, they find a person who they think would be a good person to married to and then they try to be happy. After all of that they wonder why they aren’t happy or why it’s so hard to be happy. Let me suggest a different arrangement.

Find out what makes you happy and fulfilled in life. Find a person who shares that same vision and perspective on life. Also, find a person who wants to share that life with you. Not everybody who finds happiness wants to share it with you. After that find out what situation works for the two of you all’s relationship. It doesn’t have to be traditional; it doesn’t even have to make sense to people outside of your relationship. Seriously, it doesn’t even have to make sense to your family.

Here’s what you’ll find. You’ll find that most of what you think is right, is not right or wrong, it just may not be for you. That’s perfectly fine. That’s the message that I want to convey today. It’s not about what’s right or what’s wrong, it’s about what works for you. The more constraints we put on ourselves, the more roadblocks we put between ourselves and happiness. At the end of the day, it’s just not worth it.

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Dr. J

Comment(24)

    1. ” find a person who wants to share that life with you. Not everybody who finds happiness wants to share it with you. “

  1. I think the ultimate goal of any relationship is to find someone who makes you happy and vice versa. I’m glad you addressed this cause so many people get fixated on assigning titles that they forgot what’s most important!

  2. I still think marriage is awesome but it’s not for everyone & shouldn’t be everyone’s goal. One thing that I think most of us have wrong is looking for someone to make us happy. It’s not anyone else’s job or responsibility to make you happy. Happiness is an inside job. How can another person who’s flesh and blood and full of flaws themselves make another happy all the time. That’s why a lot of marriages fail. The expectations are unreasonable from jump.

  3. Most of this piece should be the preface to marriage as it highlights the fact many people marry with the wrong reasons, intentions, and timing, which are the reasons for it’s failure. I think people are in a rush for the happiness they actually believe they can make happen with anyone, without putting in the work. We have to be right for one another, whether or not we seek marriage.

    I do agree with finding happiness within, right down to defining your relationship along with your mate. Each relationship is different. I do acknowledge all relationships are not worthy of marriage. However, I do believe marriage is the ultimate to attain for a long-term commitment. We just need to take our time and determine the worth of these encounters.

    I’m not surprised to hear another man not want marriage, but desire all the benefits of the married relationship without a true commitment. I want a true and honest commitment and for that relationship to be recognized by all.

    IMO, there’s no room in a relationship for insecure, fickle people. Truly secure individuals can be honest, because they’ve found peace within and know self respect.

    1. Your comment is interesting. Could you give me an example of what you define as “benefits” of the married relationship. Because my only understanding of benefits are the legally contractual ones which aren’t very gender equal.

      1. LOL! Mainly, I was referring to sex. That’s a constant desired by men, above commitment. There are benefits to marriage that most people today take for granted because we’re all acting like we are married without the commitment. Which is why I said enjoying the benefits of marriage. It’s also why this post was written. I just don’t like how frivolously we’re all acting about family and relationship. I want more but will probably never get it.

        Benefits to marriage include comfortable sex, commitment, dependability, support in every aspect of the term including financial, building a family etc…

        Please explain what isn’t gender equal about a marriage license? It’s a contract of commitment that is as equal as the existing couples desire it to be.

        1. Can you have those benefits without the legal contract? That’s the question I thought the article was raising. I could be wrong though.

        2. I think its possible. Why is the legal contract necessary? I think women benefit more from marriage, because of traditional western civilization customs. I mean this from the legal perspective. Division of assets, tax status, etc. Why else would you and other women feel so strongly about the institution. Explain the benefits that men gain from marriage versus those women gain and tell me unequivocally that the benefits are equal. I not so much against marriage as you might think I am I just think the antiquated version of it needs tweaking.

        3. In every relationship I’ve been in, I am the breadwinner. Finance has never been the gauge. Most of the women I know are on the same playing field as I am. When I say I don’t need a man it is for all of the reasons men think I should need them. When I say I want a man, it is for every reason men fail to accept because of cynicism. When I love, I love wholeheartedly. I commit and honor. To waste that on some guy who doesn’t value the commitment enough to commit is a waste of time.

          Division of assets, and tax status is not very realistic in the majority of black relationships. Most of my male friends have the same thought process as you, yet they have nothing to be taken… Unless, you’re very, very wealthy this will never be an issue. The majority of people divorcing aren’t losing out the way this statement is tossed around.

          True situation: man and woman live together, purchase a home. He gets sick. She can’t see him in the hospital or make decisions they’d previously discussed. She didn’t get along with his family, who were out to get what would benefit them financially. While the mortgage existed with him as head she was a cosigner, which she explains must have been an error with paperwork as they both applied for loan together. He was listed on the taxes and what would be the deed once mortgage was paid. While away from home the woman was locked out by his family. They did not have kids together. The family locked her out, he died, house was eventually lost. They were together for 21 years. The mortgage had 12yrs left on loan. Who did that benefit?

          Me listing attributes of a loving relationship would be a waste of time for you. You will obviously never see it. Good luck in life and women. You’ll find someone willing to settle.

  4. Other than having been too young (23) with a non-marriage conducive profession ( Pro athlete) and in possession of way too little understanding of the nuanced complexities of femininity with all of it’s unspoken expectations and subtitles, my empirical experience with marriage was actually pretty good.

    I was blessed with a beautiful wife and experienced the birth and rearing of three amazing kids; only to have my male f¥ck up gene get the best of me thirteen years into it. In retrospect, though I was not sufficiently mature for all of the nuances, it is true that the love and responsibility for her and the children that are in your loving charge will sober you up and point you in the direction of maturity.

    Having said that, post divorce, it was like l was dropped off in the middle of Kazakhstan with no understanding of the culture or working knowledge of the language. Nothing was as it was before l left and got married and it took quite awhile too readjust.

    At this chronological stage of the game, l doubt that l would ever remarry because with my having already created my genetic legacy, l don’t see the utility or benefit. This doesn’t mean that l am incapable of loving or taking care of a woman romantically, emotionally, or financially; it’s just that l can do all those things without the third party intervention of the state. At least that’s the game plan…..now, l just wish they would hurry up in the Lab with that antidote that will immunized me from the ethereal powers of this amazing woman whom l have yet to meet who is intent upon marriage….lol!

    1. Happiness is caused by oneself; the responsibility for its creation can not be out sourced, nor can it be acquired by proxy. Others in our peripheral may add concentric circles and layers to our happiness, but they can not manifest that which does not already exist within your spiritual nucleus.

      And though we must bear a reasonable portion of the fallibilities and imperfections of our significant others, we also must guard against their depleting our “happy reserves.” For it is our happiness that fuels and propels us. Along with learning to make oneself happy; being wonderful friends with the same person that stimulates the flow of those feel good endorphins creates a more intense and longer romantic shelf life.

  5. No, marriage is not the goal of every relationship. Every relationship is different altho MOST may have the same goal. It varies from person to person. I think this constant ‘everybody wants to OR everybody SHOULD get married’ crap is one main reason you have so many people in it who really DON’T want to be in it. The goal of a relationship is whatever those in the relationship choose for it to be, if it matches up, then cool….if it doesn’t, then you know you need to move on.

  6. I’m thinking the point of this article is to say that “marriage” isn’t the necessary institution for a commitment or union in this progressive society. Can two ‘people’ who aren’t married still be committed, bound, and loyal to one another? Is marriage nothing more than a legal contract? Does said binding contract define whether a person truly loves another and wants to join life experiences? These are questions that must be answered critically in the 21st century if we are to solve the conundrum of modern marriage. Either that or just admit that we are creatures bound by tradition and are clinging to any remnants of it we can find in an ever-changing society.

  7. Dr. J, although I enjoy reading some of your posts on this site…..this post is some BS. There is no gray areas when it comes to marriage or anything else in life. Either you want to get married or you don’t. A lot of men try to muddy the water on the topic of relationships and marriage so they can keep their options open in case they come across something better.

    1. I don’t agree. Many women are comfortable in their power of choice not to be married. Many women today are exclaiming that the old paradigm of the goal of women is to get married is a fallacy. All men who challenge the institution of marriage as viable in the 21st century aren’t just trying to dodge a proverbial bullet. The point is to re-examine the institution and its necessity in modern times that’s all. Your comment makes the implication that marriage is not mutually beneficial. Why else would one gender try to avoid it?

      1. As a woman I disagree with everything you said, so we can agree to disagree. Like I said, either you want to get married or you don’t. There’s no grey areas. There’s nothing wrong with feeling comfortable in a relationship to the point where you don’t care for marriage if that is what both partners want, but there are no grey areas.

        1. You are right there are no grey areas. What are the benefits to marriage for both parties is my question? Do you believe you can be committed to someone in thought and deed without a legal contract? Why is the traditional idea of marriage so concrete? Outside of a religious premise, what does it really mean to be ‘married’ in 2015? I am not trying to be confrontational, I’m am genuinely curious because of your stance. If you’re a traditionalist, I understand, but I would like to know why the hardline stance on the matter.

        2. When married, spouses have certain rights that they wouldn’t have if they weren’t. Those rights are to protect and benefit both partners. Why do you think the LGBT community fought so hard for the right to get married and have the same rights as straight married couples all across the board? Also I want to add that marriage is widely taught in most religions.

          Of course before you get married, you want to make sure you marry someone you love, someone your compatible with and so on.

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