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Getting Married for the Wrong Reasons
By Barrington H. Brennen, MA, NCP, BCCP; 2009, 2022



Do we have to get married to be somebody? Do we have to get married to be emotionally fulfilled? Do we have to get married to gain spiritual favor with God? The answer to all of these questions is no. Then why are so many people getting married as if it is going out of style? It is my gut feeling that a significant number of individuals are seeking marriage for the wrong reasons. Believe it or not, they are not all together to blame.

Parents and guardians often help create the mind-set in our youth that life isnít fulfilling without marriage. This starts from the cradle when the mother holds her son in her arms and repeatedly pronounces these unfortunate words: "I canít wait for you to grown up, get married, and bring me some grand children." Or "I hope you grow up to be a good wife." These phrases seem healthy and normal, but in reality they are meaningless to developing children whose goals should be not marriage but blossoming into a person with a well-balanced character. These tender children are gradually being robbed of the wholesome concept that the single life is a gift from God and a time to cherish and love. Forming character is more important than planning for marriage.

Getting married is a built-in natural desire God has given most of us. However, stewardship of singleness (which comes before marriage) is the first requirement--before we can face the commitment of marriage. Many are unfaithful stewards of their single life, thus plummeting themselves into marriage for the wrong reasons.

Understanding some of the wrong reasons for which people get married may help us to better know why some people are unfaithful stewards of singleness. Dr. Barbara De Angelis, in her book "Are You The One For Me?," states some of the wrong reasons to marry:

Pressure - This is the influence friends, family, society and your own psyche place upon you that give the message "You should be in a relationship, and if youíre not something is wrong with you." Key questions to ask would be a) Are most of your friends part of a couple, but you are still single? b) Are you unmarried and over thirty? c) Are you the last person in your family to "settle down?" d) Are you recently divorced? In our society we can really heap lots of pressure on unmarried family members and friends. It is time that we leave them alone and learn to appreciate and value their singleness.

Loneliness and Desperation - Too many individuals only get married because they are desperate or lonely. Dr. Angelis is right when she says "when you are feeling lonely or desperate, you are much more likely to make poor love choices and end up in unfulfilling relationships." A lonely and desperate person will remain lonely after marriage. Some people are so emotionally empty that they are desperate for anyone to marry. In the end these persons end up in a painful relationship.

Sexual Hunger - Some people are so sexually driven that they end up seeking someone to care for but in reality, they want sex more than long-lasting intimate relationships. Some people act as if they are "on heat" like dogs, and during those times they find a lover to share their passion. Sometimes the passion remains until the wedding day, but after the wedding day it diminishes into the abyss of frustration and pain.

Distraction From Your Own Life - Many get married not because they have found the right person "but as an excuse to avoid their own life." Evaluating the following statements may help you know whether you are avoiding dealing with your own life?

  1. I have a history of unfulfilling relationships

  2. I donít go for long periods of time without being in a relationship

  3. The relationships I get involved in are very time-consuming.

  4. When Iím in a relationship, I devote less time to my own interests and friends.

  5. As a rule I donít enjoy spending time alone, and would rather be with other people

  6. I find it easier to motivate others to solve their own problems than to motivate my self to solve my own.

"Some people have relationships because they are bored with the lack of passion and purpose in their own lives, and rather than looking within to find out why they feel that way, they get involved in a love affair and make that their purpose."

To Avoid Growing Up - This is a really big one in our country. There are too many people who enter marriage simply because they want to be "taken care of." These persons usually become dependant emotionally on those they love. This kind of relationship can usually be identified when a) there is a big age difference between partners. b) there is a big difference in financial and professional success. c) there is a big contrast in life experience level between the partners.

Guilt - There are many who remain in a pre-marriage relationship because they are afraid what might happen if they left. They may feel guilty to leave because they did not treat the person as nicely as the person treated them. "When you decide to be with someone out of guilt and not love, you are ripping them and yourself off."

To Fill Up Your Emotional and Spiritual Emptiness - Dr. Angelis clearly writes: "If you have deep places of emptiness within you, no partner, regardless of how much they love you, will be able to fill that emptiness.

There would be more successful marriages, if people would take the time to know themselves first before they seek to explore the mind of someone else. It is very easy to mistake physical passion, or romantic infatuation for genuine, long-lasting love. One of the whys to prevent getting married for the wrong reasons is not to date until you are ready for a romantic relationship that may lead to marriage.
Why get seriously "in love" with someone and you have no intentions of getting married to that person or not for a long time? If the relationship is too long, there is a great risk of the relationship getting stale and the couple spending lots of time patching up bad feelings. When the time comes for marriage, they are more in love with love itself than with each other. They would have gotten married for the wrong reason.
A great mistake young people make is that they never allow themselves to experience a significant period of their young life unattached. From the time they understand the meaning of the word love they have serious relationships, which often cause them to expend their energy in extremely long telephone calls, sleepless nights and failing grades, loss of appetites, etc. Thus, they miss the joy of developing genuine friendships that do not lead to romance. Remember, dating puts one out of circulation.
That is, we are locked off from establishing other relationships. When we start "going out of circulation" too early in life, we will end up in a marriage that will lock us away from a world of happiness, freedom, and growth. This is one reason why pre-marriage counseling for all couples is vital. Dear readers, avoid getting married for the wrong reasons.



Barrington H. Brennen, MA, NCP, BCCP, is a marriage and family therapist. Send your questions or comments to question@soencouragement.org  or call 242-327 1980 or visit www.soencouragement.org



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