Why Marriage?

By Megan McArdle

Why are we getting married?  ask commenters.  Why not simply live together, and avoid the tax hit?

Well, it's outre, I know, but I sort of believe in marriage.  I believe in the act of committing for life to another person.  I believe in the power and the joy of facing your life as a team.  I think you can have a very happy, fulfilled life without being married, and before I met Peter, I was preparing to.  But my life is even happier and more fulfilled with him.  So naturally, I want to start building that life as Team McSudelman.

There's a reason for the social role of "spouse".  And there's a reason for all of the legal and social systems that have grown up around that role:  they reinforce and strengthen it.  It would be much harder to do many of the things we want and intend to do, for and with each other, without that useless little piece of paper.

But more to the point, once we'd decided to do what spouses do, why wouldn't we, well, become official spouses?  Just because I enjoy akward five-minute conversations about how my "partner" is a he, not a she, and you know, we really love each other, but we just don't believe we need society's ratification . . . I don't, I assure you.  And I'm happy to have society's ratification.  Celebrating our marriage will be one question upon which society and I agree 100%.

There are tax consequences for couples whose incomes are roughly equal, as one commenter pointed out. But we are, sadly, not in the happy position of having dual half-million-dollar salaries we need to shelter from the grasping tax man.  Besides, marriage is not an investment strategy.  And I suspect that the more you treat it like an investment strategy, the less likely it is to work.

I mean if domestic partnership is working for you, I'm happy for you.  But when I thought about the reasons not to get married, they mostly boiled down to an instinct for contrariness.  I don't need to put myself through a bunch of legal hassle and domestic partner registration just to prove something to Jerry Falwell and my eighth grade history teacher.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2009/07/why-marriage/22233/