The day President Obama announced his belief in same-sex marriage, I participated in a Twitter chat called #WhyGetMarried. The discussion was hosted by Chris ‘Kazi’ Rolle and featured relationship editor and family life coach, Charreah Jackson and was a jumping off point for their upcoming panel Why Get Married: The Challenges, The Benefits & Happily Ever After. The week before, I joined a discussion hosted by relationship editor and marriage blogger, Charli Penn. Whether marriage was a necessity or an option came up. While some folks were fighting for the right to be married, others were trying to convince people it was an institution they should believe in.

Then there was the email from the Obama administration that included the following statement:

I’ve always believed that gay and lesbian Americans should be treated fairly and equally. I was reluctant to use the term marriage because of the very powerful traditions it evokes. And I thought civil union laws that conferred legal rights upon gay and lesbian couples were a solution.

The language struck me. Is marriage about the “powerful traditions,” or is it about “legal rights?”  Where does love fit in? We all know that marriage rates are on the decline in the U.S. The rates have been on the decline in other Western countries for years, in some ways you can say that the states are just catching up to the trend. We know that divorce rates are high.

So, what is the purpose of marriage?

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  • grateful

    i remember at my last job i used to work with one chick who didn’t believe in marriage and made the mistake of shacking up with some dude who never divorced his wife. they started a business together and were able to make a really good life for themselves before he died. and wouldn’t you know it the bitter wife came for the house she (my coworker) had been living in and everything in it. and the judge awarded her (the wife) all of it! even after showing that the girlfriend had worked for everyhting with dude it all went to the wife because they were still married…the girlfriend didn’t know he was still married.

    so be careful of these liars out here…

    • Pat

      Sad. Have she tried to appeal the judges decision?

    • luckygirl

      A similar thing happened to someone I knew. Except the girlfriend knew that her boyfriend never divorced. She also believed marriage was just a ”paper that didnt mean anything.” Well, she moved into the boyfriend’s house and 25 years later he died and his wife took the house. Mind you, the girlfriend’s work, seat, and tears went into paying mortgages, maintaining the house.

  • Pat

    Marriage is a business. Love joins two individuals, but its a business deal between the two to secure what they have invested in their relationship. See the above comment for an example :-D.

    • Pat

      The above comment made by grateful.

  • Anon

    I can’t believe you literally asked grown women what is the purpose of marriage.

    Walk through the ‘hood and you’ll see what society is like without it.

  • TheTuth

    I really have no idea why any man would want to get married. I just can’t see any benefits in it for men. Especially getting married to women nowadays.

    Women want to get married mainly to improve their financial/social status. Look at all the reasons women gave to get married in this thread. They were all about financial security. You hardly hear women say they want to get married because they want to be a good mate to their husband. The husband is just a vehicle to increase her wealth.

    • Actually, I can’t see why a WOMAN would want to get married. Women always get the short end of the stick in marriage. Study after study has backed up what many women have seen for themselves – that marriage is good for men, but not so good for women. Women do much more of the work in a marriage than men, and most still have to work a 9-5 on top of everything else.

      The expectations are unrealistic and many women are simply choosing not to marry, or making sure the men they marry have the financial means to hire help. Too many men (I didn’t say “all”) expect women, especially black women, to be “Superwoman” and we try hard to please. That’s why many married black women are some of the sickest people, with all kinds of life-threatening, stress-induced ailments. The “Superwoman Syndrome” of trying to be all things to everybody, and putting ourselves and our well-being last is literally killing us. Many women – and I think the number is growing – are choosing to opt-out and stay single. They feel it’s just not worth it.

  • I think cultural now, people are deciding to define the purpose of marriage to be showing commitment to someone you love and to get the benefits that come from that union. I honestly don’t think I would’ve gotten married for those reasons because like many people have said, it just doesn’t seem worth it. I happen to see marriage as more of a societal structure for taking care of and raising a family. It makes more sense that way. People married in ancient times to provide a structure that would ensure a stable structure for children to be raised in. It provided an obligation and attachment to the familial unit. Is this necessary today…I think that’s what is being debated when we talk about gay marriages. What we are discussing is not necessarily whether we think being gay is right or wrong, but whether the traditional family structure is really the best unit to base a society. I don’t know if we are going to know that answer until after we see what happens as more and more gay people get married and continue to change the societal definition and structure of marriage.