Why Is Marriage More Important Than Ever For The Modern Woman?

[Photo: Rex Features]

There’s no disputing that many traditional aspects of marriage are somewhat outdated. All that honour-and-obeying, taking your husband’s surname, wearing white at the wedding to demonstrate your purity.

But still, following a three-decade slump, marriage rates are back on the rise and the institution is enjoying an unexpected renaissance.

But why? In a world where cohabitation is the norm, having children out of wedlock is no longer a sin, divorce rates are sky high, and enormous strides have been made in women’s rights and redressing the gender imbalance, what makes marriage relevant and desirable to the modern woman?

Real women have their say:

Equality, says Joanna, a marketing manager: Marriage for me was saying publicly to those we loved most that this was the person I chose, the person I wanted to make our family, and I wanted their support in that decision.

I’m a pragmatic person and not overly romantic, I don’t believe we are made for each other and that a lifetime of marriage is going to happen without hard work and some compromise. But I think humans are naturally suited to companionship and life is more fun for having someone to share it with.

I don’t think the role of wife or husband should differ, each should take care of the other, I think the rules of a good marriage aren’t that different from the rules of life - above all else, be nice.

One thing I do feel proud of in our marriage is how evenly we share childcare and I’m amazed that in 2016 it’s not more common. Most men I know say they’d be up for it in theory, but they don’t believe their employer would let them work more flexibly, or their job is too busy (aren’t ours all!) but the truth is, I don’t think they ask. Until men start asking for flexibility, it remains a woman’s issue, when it’s clearly a family issue.


[Photo: Pexels]

Independence, says Laura, 33, a civil servant: While being in a committed relationship was always something I wanted for myself, I never used to consider marriage to be a necessary part of that, and still don’t think it is for many people. The first time marriage did become important for me was when I understood it was what my partner (now husband) wanted for his future, and I realised that I wanted him to want to marry me.

I think what makes our marriage work is that we keep quite a lot of independence. We didn’t even get a shared bank account until we had already been married for a year (and so together for six), and even then we have a fairly complicated way of working out fair contributions; [he earns more but] it took me a very long time to allow him to pay more in than I do.

We still have our own lives; if one of us wants to do something and the other doesn’t, we just do it without them.

Unconventionality, says Caroline, 41, an engineer: It’s not like it used to be where unmarried women were old maids by their mid to late 20s. Thank goodness, as I was 40 before I got married. I was unlucky in love throughout my 20s and 30s and when I did finally meet the man I wanted to marry, he was a divorced father of two. Not exactly the stuff of my childhood fairy tales.

My marriage isn’t just about being a wife. It’s about being a stepmum too. My marriage came with two children, and even an ex-wife, who will always be part of our lives whether I like it or not.

I think that is what modern marriage is: a changed landscape where blended families or same sex couples can be united in the same way as the traditional ideal, i.e. the young husband and wife.


[Photo: Pexels]

Choice, says Karla, 33, an advertising executive: To me, modern marriage has more consciousness to it - marriage is no longer a societal expectation. Rather, you made an active choice and therefore you make an effort - every day to be kind, loving and respectful to each other - aware of how easily you can become disconnected if you don’t. Living with someone is hard, especially with the pressures of modern life, so you have to make a concerted effort to forget about the small things and not let domestic normality take over the bigger stuff - most importantly reminding yourself of why you fell in love in the first place and why you chose this person.

I think the crux of it is about needing versus wanting. Modern women are independent - emotionally and financially - and this changes the dynamic of marriage. I think about that all the time and I love the fact that every day I am in my marriage by choice and out of love and not because I HAVE to be like so many women in the generations before us. Weirdly that freedom of being able to leave is the key to a successful marriage if you really think about it - because then you expect and accept only the best. There is a strength and clarity that comes with that.

There is so much power in being a woman - gone are the days when we lived to serve a home and a man. There is far more balance in the modern marriage. The words ‘team’ and ‘partnership’ come much more to mind.

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