“Have-to-Marry” vs. “Will-Never-Marry”

Have-to-Marry: “Marriage is a great personal bond between two individuals, and provides a person with added stability in life.”

Will-Never-Marry: “Marriage is an archaic institution, founded on a misplaced desire to placate familial and/or societal expectations, instead of the desires of the individual itself.  Rather than offering stability in life it makes the individual more readily complacent with a less fulfilling life.”

Have-to-Marry: “You’re confusing contentment with complacency.  For a person to be content in life is for her/him to finally have gained the maturity to appreciate what they have in the moment…”

Will-Never-Marry: “At the expense of all that they could have had were they not legally chained to the wellbeing of another person.”

Have-to-Marry: “To refer to marriage as being chained is a cheap piece of rhetoric.  Marriage in today’s society is, more often than not, a contract of affection and trust between individuals.”

Will-Never-Marry: “Except when it’s not.”

Have-to-Marry: “It’s faulty reasoning to look at exceptions and pretend that they represent the whole.”

Will-Never-Marry: “But these exceptions (such as when marriage is entered more for utilitarian reasons than sentimental ones), are a prominent part of the deal in our society.  If marriage is all about affection and love, why accompany it with things like tax breaks, better mortgage rates and healthcare packages at all?”

Have-to-Marry: “The fact that society has put in place material incentives to make marriage an appealing prospect for individuals doesn’t negate the truth that people who marry are gaining personal–i.e. psychological and spiritual–benefits from the act.  It only means that people were astute enough to construct a society that recognizes the beneficial elements of the practice, on the community as a whole.”

Will-Never-Marry: “Which are what again?”

Have-to-Marry: “Marriage symbolizes to the community that you have a steak in the long-term well-being of said community.  The act of committing to one person shows that you are willing to set aside your egocentric interests and can consider the good of others as well as your own.  This breeds a certain level of trust and respectability in most people’s eyes.”

Will-Never-Marry: “So (as I said before) you should get married to appease societal expectations?  So that the people around you will trust and think well of you as a person?”

Have-to-Marry: “Not just for those reasons, but on a macro level they certainly ought to be factors to consider.  Humans are social beings; it’s how we’ve survived this long.  And if we are to continue to survive we have to commit and trust one another.  Marriage is one of the ways (though, admittedly, not the only way) we do this, on an individual level.”

Will-Never-Marry: “Human beings survived for hundreds of thousands of years prior to the advent of marriage.  Not to mention that for the majority of the institutions existence it served more as a business venture between families, rather than a demonstration of either love, maturity, or trust.”

Have-to-Marry: “That’s a very simplistic rendition of the complicated history of it all.  Regardless, it’s irrelevant to the discussion of the benefits marriage affords to the individual, and by extension society, today.”

Will-Never-Marry: “You brought up history, so I’m just following your train of thought here.  It’s pretty much a given that the segment of society that favors a particular practice will argue how this particular practice is indispensable for the ‘wellbeing of society’ (whatever that means).  The same line of reasoning can be made (and has been made) to argue in favor of establishing a single state-enforced religion, a monarchical government, or various forms of slavery.  The proponents of all of these institutions have always resorted to the old canard that sans said institutions the society or community would not function properly, and might even descend into disarray.  The truth is that if people started to abandon any currently common social practice, the only outcome that we can predict is that the practice would just seize to be common.  That’s it.  In Western societies today we no longer frown down on premarital relationships; the stigma once attached to it has been all but removed from people’s psyche.  So to claim that we wouldn’t have affection or commitment between people without marriage, on a social or individual level, is unfounded speculation at best.  And putting aside societal imperatives for a moment, given that there is no longer a stigma concerning premarital relations, please tell me what specific benefits I, the individual, gain from marriage (besides a couple of utilitarian financial incentives)?”

Have-to-Marry: “Every single study, every single survey, every single bit of data done on the subject, clearly shows that married individuals experience greater health (physical and mental) and longevity than non-married individuals.  This holds true even when one compares them to cohabitating non-married couples.  I might only be able to speculate as the reason why this is so, but you can’t pretend that this fact is untrue just because we don’t know all the variables involved.  At the end of the day, we can look at the data and conclusively point to the fact that married people report better health, and that married people are living longer (it’s not as if we can fake the latter, right?).”

Will-Never-Marry: “Correlation doesn’t equal causation.  The advent of marriage as a social practice in human history also correlates with the advent of slavery; however, to therefore imply that one causes the other would be as fallacious as the reasoning you displayed in your previous remark.”

Have-to-Marry: “As of this moment the common denominator for all this data is marriage.  If you can find a better explanation, by all means do so, but until you do society is under no obligation to discard the most reasonable explanation that is currently on offer for the data observed.”

Will-Never-Marry: “But it’s the validity of the cited data that I’m calling into question.  You’re ignoring that I began this conversation by mentioning that marriage makes people complacent with what they have.  When you invest that much of your identity into something of course your going to self-report higher satisfaction with the decision, but there is still no means by which to differentiate between those who are reporting there sincere beliefs, and those who have willingly self-deluded themselves into a stupor because the prospect of admitting their dissatisfaction is too great of a personal failure to bear.  As to the issue of longevity, of course you’re going to live longer when you have another person in every waking moment of your private life discouraging you from taking any potential risks in life.  Being bubble-wrapped in a monotonous life of adequate mediocrity hardly counts as a fulfilled life; no matter how long it lasts.”

Have-to-Marry: “Tell me, how exactly are these speculation of yours against marriage any more valid than my so-called speculations in favor of marriage?”

Will-Never-Marry: “Simple.  You know that my opinions are authentic, because I don’t have a spouse breathing down my neck about what opinions they think I ought to have.”

Have-to-Marry: “Maybe if you did you’d be able to come up with a more mature counterargument.”

Will-Never-Marry: “You can’t prove that.”

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