Wow, what a great question! Well, there are many reason why people get married, and lucky for you, I have an air-tight philosophy for those who value the institution. But Jaime (not your real name), you do know that at the end of my response you’ll have to figure out if you want to get married and why. But for now, I’m going to assume that you have absolutely have no idea. So, I’m going to respond to your question as if you have never, ever thought about marriage until you met, your beloved Savanna (not her name, of course). Remember, I’m going to talk as if you are a blank slate—totally without a clue about marriage—so no disrespect here.
Allow me to give my top 3-reasons that sum up what I believe is the purpose of marriage.
Reason #1: Purpose. Not love, but purpose is going to keep you and Savanna together. Sure you love her, but romantic love will NOT be enough when life’s growth opportunities kick in. Purpose is a passion that you both share to which you each will bring your natural gifts and talents together making your joint passion your contribution to the world. Purpose is what championship teams have as they single-mindedly go into the championships game; it’s what builders or contractors have when they approach a momentous project; it’s what scientists have when they are hot on a discovery path. So think now of your joint purpose? For purpose is the single most important reason to get married. Period.
But wait! I’ve got the perfect example: “Have you seen the movie, ‘National Treasure’?” There is a scene where Nicolas Cage and his budding love-interest are in life or death situation. The Declaration of Independence is about to fall into oblivion, so he dives to save it, risking her life in doing so. Now, her passion for the document and American history so matched his that when he apologizes for not trying to save her instead of the Declaration, and without flinching she says, “I would have done the same thing.”
So, imagine you and Savanna both have a passion for saving the diminishing population of bees. Your drive and dedication to something “larger than yourselves” will fuel your devotion to and respect for each other—priceless ingredients that will keep the relationship thriving. So, romantic love--while it sell dresses, cakes, flowers, and other rental--alone does not make a happy, healthy, and passionate marital relationship. Start with purpose, my friend.
Okay, I’ll shorten the remaining 2-reasons a bit and end with a few general assumptions
Reason #2: Like each other. Consider this. When you like someone you don’t mind sacrificing for him or her. You look forward to seeing each other--being in good, safe company where conversation flows easily and even silence is a joy. The admiration and respect is mutual. Some interests may be polar opposites but you like each other so much that you deal with the differences with humor, acceptance, and dedication. This is because you authentically like each other. You’re friends.
Reason #3: Be Friends. Similar to #2, you like each other and you have a bond like close family members. If you’ve ever seen close friends (or have one) you know what I mean. There is nothing that the one won’t do for the other, and vice versa. Millennials having a saying “I got you.” This means that no matter what happens “you can count on me, I’m on your side, or I got your back--even when you are wrong.” And you absolutely know you can count on your chosen life partner when he or she is, above all else, your friend.
Now, having offered what I believe is the purpose for marriage, let me offer that I’m making some other assumptions. You’ve already said that you love her, so I won’t touch on that—it is important, romantic love is a wonderful feeling. I’m also assuming, however, that the two of you are people of good character; you each possess the usual humane traits: honesty, kindness, thoughtfulness, altruism, etc. I’m also assuming that you understand the gravity of finances in a marriage. In case you are one who believes that romantic love is enough consider how a few financial problems might interfere with living necessities and/or luxuries and romantic love might be sitting on the curve wondering what happened.
So, the inevitable life-growth opportunities that are sure to come are why marriage has to be based on purpose. I’m also assuming that you both are effective communicators—willing to work out differences in civil ways and are open to seeing a qualified therapist when you can’t. I’m assuming you’ve asked the-not-expected-but-important-to-know-questions like: “Have you ever filed bankruptcy?” Are you married to anyone else right this minute?” “Do you have any mental or physical incapacities past or present?” Addictions? You understand-make your own list. These are practical, fine-print sorts of things that need to be discussed before the “I do’s.”
Now, sex is important but please know that “If the top 3 areas are not in place, even if the sex is good—it’ll be empty, everything that happens between you is interconnected. In other words, what happens outside of the bedroom shows up in the bed room—good or bad. The exception to this rule is if one or both of you have a sexual addiction, in which case nothing else really matters. Anyway, the kind of intimacy that operates in a marriage where there is purpose, camaraderie, and friendship invites fulfilling sex, it’s a given. So, take care of the main things and the sex will be “to the moon, baby!”
Finally, Jaime, marriage is a business and if you don’t carefully count the cost before you sign the contract and say your “I do’s” and “I will’s” then you might end up like most startups—Out of Business. And you, my friend, are clearly counting the cost, as you have asked a brilliant and critical question a head of time, counting your cost.