Today, a group where I'm a member was discussing marriage, and one member brought up some objections to the practice, making some claims that I would like to address. He said, "Marriage is for girls," going on to say, "Guys get married for only a few reasons: they are 'godly', they have control issues of some sort, they are insecure at some level, they just want to make their woman happy...or they're gay." Someone also added "Hence why marriage is gay," at one point, which I will get back to later, because I think it's important to address the other points first.
Marriage is for girls?
In American culture, at least, marriage seems slanted toward women, because all of the marketing appears to be for the bride. Engagement rings still appear mostly on women's fingers, not men's (although men's engagement rings appear here and there, and may become a trend). A vast amount of money goes into the wedding gown, bridesmaids' dresses, the engagement ring (which is what began the discussion in the first place), and the bands. The man's band typically is plain and less costly. Men wear tuxes, traditionally, and those are usually rentals. Unless he and his groomsmen are difficult to fit, they're pretty simple and much less costly, because wedding gowns and bridesmaids' dresses are not typically rentals.
Most websites geared toward what I will term "marriage marketing" focus on the bride. I'm gotten emails from them, having signed up for the lists and for contests/sweepstakes, and they tend to address the bride only.
I think the slant has two major causes: one is tradition. The other is the market. The market perpetuates the tradition and feeds into it. It sets up expectations for generations who grow up with marriage being marketed in traditional ways. In capitalist society, the market will change if entrepreneurs perceive a demand and meet it with a supply, so unless there's a market for things men will wear, use, or consume at a wedding, there won't be equality in this regard--unless women stop buying into it.
So far, I've only really been talking about the wedding, and how it's marketed. That's not marriage, though. Marriage is the commitment, and it takes two. So, do men really get married for the reasons this member claimed? I haven't conducted a study, but I will go through the claims and speak for myself. Other men can speak up if they want--and they should. You really should think about why you're getting married, because I did it once already, said I wasn't going to do it again, and here I am, engaged. Why would I do that? It's because there are still plenty of good reasons, and I know what to look for and what to avoid now, from my failed marriage and from relationships prior to it.
Men get married because they are "godly"?
This claim certainly doesn't apply to me. I'm an atheist, and have been for twenty-three years. I gave up religion when I was nineteen.
Men get married because they have control issues?
I'm not getting married to control my wife-to-be. In fact, with the way divorces work, marriage gives the woman more power than she would have otherwise in the relationship. With no kids involved, I could abandon a woman with whom I've been living (since many states have given up common law marriage), leave her completely destitute, and she'd have no recourse in divorce, because there wouldn't be one. If you're getting married in 2014 because you think you're going to be able to control a woman, you're pretty ignorant of marriage/divorce law.
Men get married because they are insecure on some level?
If was insecure, I would never have talked to my fiancee in the first place. If wasn't confident in myself, I wouldn't have attracted her, given her past relationships. I'm not marrying her to bind her to me so no one else can have her; that would be insane, given the fact that marriage doesn't stop infidelity. I don't understand this argument on any level, unless someone believed that if he didn't marry his significant other, he'd lose her to someone who would, and that possibility is laughable in my case. She wouldn't want anyone else. I am completely confident in that...for reasons that are personal, private, and between us.
Men get married because they want to make their women happy?
Yes, I want to make her happy, but I'm not marrying her to make her happy. I make her happy without the legal binding. I'm doing it because I want to.
So...why am I getting married?
Marriage gives couples certain legal protections they can't get otherwise, or have to jump through many legal hoops to have. Some of these legal hoops involve expense that would be unnecessary if you're married.
Your tax status changes when you're married. It's a lot more difficult to claim someone as a dependent when they're not married to you, if you've supported that person.
She can easily do business in my name while I'm working. She can use my credit card at the store, if necessary. I don't have to jump through hoops to get her onto the medical benefits I have through work. She can advocate for my daughter when I'm not around if she shares my last name and my daughter's.
There are around 250 legal protections for married couples, and I won't list them all here. Conversely, there are reasons marriage carries risk. You are married to a person's credit. It isn't easy to get divorced, and your assets might have to be divided (if a prenuptial agreement isn't in place, that is) if you split up. If your spouse gets pregnant by another man, some states consider the resulting child a product of your marriage (this is not a concern in the case of my current engagement, but it did become a concern in my first marriage).
The fact is, I love my fiancee. I love her more than I've loved anyone. I have a high degree of compatibility with her. She shows me affection on a level I've never received. She works with me, supports me, encourages me, and cares for me. She's loyal, honest, intimate, and diligent. She's an advocate for her children, and has become an advocate for mine. She's attractive, too--bonus! I am committing to her on the level of being legally bound because I fully understand both the benefits and consequences, and have certainty that we have something that will last. Other examples of happily married couples who have lasted for decades look a lot like what we have now.
Marriage is gay?
I think calling anything "gay" speaks of insensitivity and intellectual vacuousness. People who say that things are "gay" usually aren't thinking about how their words might disparage gay people, but worse, it typically isn't what they mean. They mean that they don't like whatever it is, or that it's lame...which gives "gay" negative connotations. I think people in the LGBT community can speak to this one better than I can, but as an ally, it didn't sit well with me at all.