I’ll never forget the first engaged couple I broke up. I didn’t mean to. But as her pastor, I had to bring up some clear concerns about the path she was on.
So I confronted a few bad lines of thinking. She broke it off. Deep down she already had big doubts, but she had been pushing through them because of a sense of obligation.
Since then I’ve seen lots of other couples call off marriage realizing they were going into it for the wrong reasons.
Marriage is amazing. But you have to make sure you go into it for the right reasons and with the right expectations. Here are five of the biggest reasons I think people shouldn’t get married.
1. To Cure Loneliness
I didn’t get married until I was 29. It was lonely during those single years. But I figured out before I got married that marriage wouldn’t cure loneliness. My loneliness came from a deeper place than just needing someone to hang out with. I had to come to peace with myself and my relationship with God before I could ever come into a marriage with proper expectations.
A spouse won’t cure loneliness. If anything, marriage can make your loneliness worse because your partner will never fulfill the deep longing in your heart, and you won’t have the option to just find a new person to hang out with. The only cure for loneliness is a vibrant relationship with God.
2. Because Marriage Is What You Do Next
Graduate high school, get a car, graduate college, get a job, get a spouse, have 2.3 kids. That’s the formula, right?
Sometimes that is the formula, and it’s not necessarily a bad one, but way too many people jump into marriage because that’s what they’ve been told is the next step in the process of life. Those people often end up regretting what could have been. They don’t take advantage of their single years. They just jump into “life” and end up spending much of their thirties and forties complaining life gave them no choice. Wrong. They just chose too hastily.
Don’t dive into marriage because it’s the next “step.” Broaden your horizons. Get out and travel. Learn who you are. Live a pure, full, single life. Then get married. I regularly talk to people who wish they wouldn’t have jumped into marriage so young. I’ve never met a person who said, “I got married too late in life to fully enjoy it.”
3. To Make It “Right in the eyes of God”
If you are getting married just to make the pre-marital sex you are already having into marital sex then you are getting married for the wrong reasons—no matter what your mom or grandma tells you.
Yes, I’m familiar with Paul’s admonition in 1 Corinthians 7:9 that it’s better to marry than “to burn with lust.” But you have take that verse a bit deeper. Paul is talking about the importance of self-control. If you don’t have it, you are in for trouble—especially within the context of marriage. Marriage won’t solve the problem of pre-marital sex because at the heart of the issue is self-control. Bringing lack of self-control into a marriage can lead to all sorts of trouble down the road. That’s not to say your marriage is doomed if you’ve had sex outside of marriage—it’s certainly not—just that there should be a lot of other strong reasons for marriage other than a desire to have (or continue to have) sex.
4. Because I’m Getting Old and the Options are Becoming Fewer and Fewer
Do people really think this? Yes, but most would never admit it. So they figure out ways to make the “good-enough” person into their “dream” person in their mind.
Don’t get married because it seems like your options are becoming fewer as you get older. Hold out for who God has for you. A friend of mine just got married for the first time at 60!
5. Because He Already Bought the Ring/She Already Started Planning
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this excuse. It always baffles me. I beg you, don’t get married because the person who you have doubts about already spent $2,500 on a ring or a venue. What you are essentially saying is that’s how much your future is worth to you. $2,500.
But is your future really that cheap? Is your marriage that cheap? Lifelong regret is not worth $2,500. If you are having serious doubts (note: serious doubts don’t include just being nervous leading up to the wedding, that happens to everyone), don’t go through with the marriage—no matter how far along things are. You’re not obligated to marry anyone just because they’ve already bought you a ring or started wedding planning.
I love being married. I’m certain that if you are wise going into it you will too. Just make sure you make the commitment for the right reasons and with right expectations.
Joel Malm is the founder of Summit Leaders Coaching and is the author of Fully You: Unlocking the Power of All You Really Are He has an M.S. in Counseling.