What is the Purpose of Marriage?

What is the purpose of marriage?

Is it to find your "soul mate" or your "other half?"

Is it to find fulfillment or to "make you happy?"

We all have different ideas when it comes to the purpose of marriage, in this article we wanted to share some of our thoughts with you.

First, why don't we look at the topic from a historical perspective...

The Purpose of Marriage Historically

Marriage from a historical perspective looks nothing like its modern-day variant. Historically, marriage was by in large a vehicle for strengthening one's social and economic standing.

Marriage provided a stable environment for raising children, maintaining a household, and improving survivability. It was also a means of creating social and community cohesion. Marriage served as a mechanism to bring families and communities together through shared celebrations, rituals, and traditions. From a religious or spiritual standpoint, for many cultures marriage also represented a sacred union that was blessed by deities or higher powers.

The purpose of marriage from a business or economic standpoint could be argued as being even more significant.

Economically, marriage was a means to preserve wealth and build alliances. The purpose of marriage was to improve one's social status and family lineage. Marriage was often used as a tool to create alliances between countries, partnerships between businesses, and friends of once enemies.

Our point is this...

Historically, couples never expected their marriage to be "fulfilling" or a source of "happiness" until reason years. In fact, love and companionship have only become an important aspect of marriage within the past few hundred years or so.

So what does the purpose of marriage look like today?

The Purpose of Marriage Today

In contrast to our historical view of marriage, today we expect our partners to make us feel complete, and we expect marriage to be our place for happiness and fulfillment.

Emotional connection and companionship are paramount...

Marriage is not only support to be the place to create a family, it's supposed to be the structure that provides us with everything we seem to be missing.

Within marriage, we expect to have...

  • A best friend in our partner
  • Passion, emotional, and physical intimacy
  • A partner in our family/business obligations
  • Collaboration and emotional support
  • Legal and financial benefits
  • Personal growth and self-actualization

Historically, we relied on a number of relationships to support our emotional and developmental needs. Today, many of us expect all of this to come from our marriage or partnership.

If you don't mind, we'd like to share our perspective.

The Five Purposes of Marriage

Ultimately, you're going to have to decide the purpose and meaning of marriage for yourself.

That said, as relationship coaches (with 40 years of combined experience) we do believe that marriage or long-term relationships have five universal purposes.

Meaning that in addition to the purpose you assign to marriage, our long-term relationships help all of us enhance our human experience in FIVE primary ways. Oh, and just so we can keep this semantically simple when we say "marriage" you can insert any long-term romantic relationship in its place.

The purpose of marriage is to...

  1. Provide us with a vehicle for personal growth and healing
  2. Help us find the deepest form of connection/intimacy
  3. Create a life with unique meaning and purpose
  4. Enhance a life that you have already come to love
  5. Add to your spiritual/religious experience and journey

Within our coaching programs like Crystal Clarity Online, these are exactly what we help our clients to understand and achieve.

Let's discuss each of these concepts.

One. Marriage is a Vehicle for Growth and Healing

In and of itself, marriage will not heal you or "make you whole."

Quite the contrary actually.

Marriage creates a level of intimacy that tends to reveal all of our wounds and flaws. The problem is that you and I tend to push or project these problems onto the relationship when in reality they're problems to be resolved at an individual level.

Sure, we should serve one another in marriage. But it's our responsibility to keep ourselves happy.

Yes, we can be sensitive to one another's wounds and triggers. But it's our individual responsibility to heal those underlying pains. This is a concept that we've specifically discussed in this article, "How Do I Stop Being Triggered?"

Marriage, or more accurately the level of intimacy experienced within marriage, acts as a giant road sign that's continually pointing us toward opportunities for growth and healing.

But we have to recognize these road signs for what they are...

Opportunities to look within, rather than try to criticize or seek solutions outside of ourselves.

In this way, marriage is a vehicle that can provide us with opportunities to heal and grow in ways that no other relationship can.

Two. Help us Find the Deepest Form of Connection/Intimacy

The level of connection and intimacy that can be experienced within marriage is like no other.

Obviously, physical intimacy is a big contributor to this. But beyond intimacy, the proximity and time spent with a spouse is unlike any other relationship we'll experience.

This means that marriage provides us with the unique opportunity of experiencing connection and intimacy in a way that no other relationship in our lives can provide. But enjoying that benefit and opportunity will require us to deal with our individual attachment wounds and traumas that often have us fearing such intimacy.

Again, this brings us back to Purpose #01.

When our underlying wounds prevent us from opening up and being vulnerable, we're pointed back to an area where healing is required.

Three. Create a Life of Meaning and Purpose

Once again, marriage is a vehicle to create a life of meaning and purpose that you define for yourself. This is going to look different from one person to the next.

You might find meaning and joy in creating a family and raising children.

Whereas I might find meaning and joy in traveling and running a business together with my spouse.

Like anything that's meaningful in life, marriage is going to be difficult and challenging. At times it might even be painful (although this is not a requirement). But in general, "difficult" is a requirement of meaning and purpose.

Things that are meaningful and worth celebrating in life are by definition difficult.

It's why we celebrate graduating from University.

It's why becoming a Doctor or Lawyer holds significance.

And it's also why creating a successful marriage and family life is something to be cherished from the inside, and admired from the outside.

Four. Enhance a Life You Already Love

A lot of us look at marriage as a destination.

We think of marriage as that final act that will help "complete" our lives and create fulfillment in and of itself.

In reality, marriage will do nothing other than enhance the life you've already created.

Sure, you finding a partner might temporarily make you feel complete or "happy." But after the honeymoon phase of the relationship has come and gone, you're life will still be your life.

This means that if you're not in love with the life you have before marriage, you most certainly won't appreciate the life you've created after marriage. Contrary to popular belief, marriage doesn't solve anything in and of itself. In fact, in cases of an unhealthy marriage, it will actually add to your problem set in life.

On the flip side, if you enjoy your life and what you do before marriage, you'll find that having a partner and a healthy marriage will make everything you do that much more meaningful.

With your partner, you'll...

  • Celebrate your wins as well as mourn your losses.
  • Share ideas and relate to one another's unique perspectives.
  • Enhance each of your experiences with a companion who understands you at your core.

But marriage in and of itself is not going to be the destination, nor will it be the fix for a life we feel is "missing something."

Five. Add to Your Spiritual/Religious Journey

For many, marriage is the final piece (or a significant step) in one's spiritual or religious journey.

Within many religions, it's believed that it's through marriage that one attains the ultimate levels of enlightenment.

Regardless of what your beliefs on this subject might be, marriage can be an incredible experience for couples that share similar underlying beliefs. But to enjoy this benefit, a couple needs to ensure that they both share the same underlying Core Value driving their belief system.

For example, let's say that you're Mormon.

In order for you to enjoy the benefit of sharing in your religious/spiritual journey, you'd both need to be Mormon for the same underlying reasons. These "underlying reasons" are your actual Core Values and it's what enables you to see eye-to-eye.

For example...

Let's say you're Mormon because you genuinely believe it's a path for you to get closer to God.

On the other hand, your spouse is Mormon because their family was Mormon and that's where their friends and social network are as well.

Despite belonging to the same religion, you don't share the same underlying Core Values. This means that the experience each of you shares within day-to-day activities is not going to be something that you both can relate to.

Within this situation, you're likely to get frustrated at your spouse for not paying attention at church, or not taking their religious studies seriously. On the other hand, they're likely to be frustrated at you for being too serious about what they simply view as "tradition."

Despite the fact that both of you are Mormon, you will not see eye-to-eye on spiritual experiences and religious matters.

So again, to yield this benefit of marriage, couples need to ensure that their spiritual/religious beliefs are driven by the same underlying Core Values. Assuming they are, marriage can be a beautiful way of enhancing a couple's spiritual journey.

Our Conclusion

Our conclusion is simple.

We believe that the purpose of marriage goes far beyond "completing us" or "making us happy."

And that's a wonderful thing!

Because the purpose of marriage MUST go BEYOND these temporary feelings and emotional states.

If we don't feel a strong sense of purpose and meaning behind marriage, then when things get difficult, we'll lose sight of what we're trying to create.

And make no mistake, things will get difficult.

In those moments, we must be able to remind ourselves that what's meaningful will be difficult. We must be able to find the purpose for our marriage that extends BEYOND what we might be feeling at any one particular moment.


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