Over the last two years or so, when my parents began having marriage issues, I began to contemplate….why do people rush into marriage?

I’ve been frequently nagged by nosy family members to settle down and get married. You know, become a housewife, have a baby, the whole sha-bang. But each time, I’ve told them I had very little interest doing so. (And they asked me if I was a lesbian, good gods.) Because marriage isn’t a joke–divorce rates are skyrocketing, couples counseling is an official business now, and bickering spouses are the butt of  T.V. jokes nowadays. From what I see around me, marriage doesn’t always complete a person’s happiness, and I don’t think one should be socially pressured into finding a spouse so early on in life.

My amazing violin teacher was in her mid-forties when she married her current husband, and she was perfectly happy being single until then. She was truly a self-fulfilled and happy individual before being married. Also, who watches Project Runway? I really like Tim Gunn from that show, and little did I know that he was gay and single (apparently since the 80’s), yet you’d never have guessed. That man seems so content with his life that you’d automatically assume that there was some partner completing his happiness. But no, he’s single, and happy enough to be that way.

So food for thought: Is marriage really that important for one’s happiness? And should young people really rush into it?

We’re all raised with this grand idea that marriage is the Holy Grail. Once you touch it, this is the end of your life’s search. No need to worry about relationship statuses anymore, and you certainly don’t need to put in any more effort into your love life. You’ve officially achieved your happiness!

(Laughs) Woe naive misconceptions. The problem is that most people just aim to tick off a list of what they “need” in order to happy–because that’s what we’ve been told all our lives! That we should be married by a certain age. That we should have kids. That we should build a family. But here’s the thing–yes, there are mature individuals who are absolutely fantastic at marriage, but what about the majority of other youngsters like me who are temperamental douches?

Let’s face it. Temperamental douches suck at marriage.

This might be rather presumptuous of me to say, considering I’ve never been married. But I can most definitely say that most young people think that the world revolves around them. Even I admit it of myself. That self-centeredness does tend to stick around in bits and pieces until at least our thirties, but before then, we break up over the most petty things–appearances, personal ticks and habits, lack of communication, whatever. Young relationships shatter due to easily because we’re still rather self-centered.

That’s what I think makes parental love so great. It’s unconditional–they always give, they don’t ask for anything back, they can take crap without ditching us in the dirt, and they’re always there. ALWAYS, no matter what the circumstance. That’s the kind of maturity and patience I think a lot of young people lack and don’t understand. Young people just don’t understand unconditional love. Yes, we know love, and how to give lots of it–but unconditionally? Nothing in this world is free, so how can anyone give love unconditionally? It’s a much more difficult concept to grasp than most people think, and it can only come with time and maturation.

The following is a really wonderful quote from a movie called Yours, Mine, and Ours starring Lucille Ball and Henry Fonda:

“If you want to know what love really is, take a look around you. Life isn’t a love inn; it’s the dishes and the orthodontist and the shoe repairman. And I’ll tell you something else. It isn’t going to a bed with a man that proves you’re in love with him–it’s getting up in the morning and facing the drab, miserable, wonderful, everyday world with him that counts.”

This quote perfectly sums up the definition of a marriage–drab, miserable, and wonderful. But that really depends on whether you’re the type of person who’s actually ready to take the drab and miserable marriage and be able to see it as something wonderful for the rest of your life. What a hard-core commitment, which is what a lot of people don’t understand when they rush into marriage. They spend all that energy and effort to achieve that golden marriage, thinking it’s the last mile before the finish line, but then they soon become complacent and stop trying.

Therefore, youth often explains the failure rate in marriages. I feel that many failed unions COULD HAVE worked out if only the couple had taken some more time to mature and truly understand the meaning of unconditional love. But so many people jump the gun so early and fail. Which comments not on their character, but on their youth–young and premature love is too volatile to really ensure the success of a marriage.

Therefore, marriage isn’t the holy grail. It shouldn’t be the goal in a relationship, but the relationship itself.

Maintaining the love and respect two people have kindled in the first place is the true test, and I don’t think that people should feel obligated to validate it through marriage. Of course, if you’re ready, go for it. But I say only if you understand unconditional love–until then, I can’t see someone being able to truly commit to that life-long marathon.