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Marriage: How a simple piece of paper changes everything
Some say "it's just a piece of paper." It's more than a piece of paper, however; it's a symbol of love and commitment. - photo by Wendy Jessen
It seems there are a lot of couples who decide not to get married for various reasons yet live a near-married lifestyle by living together, sharing finances and having kids.

So, why don't couples simply get married? Is there really something that changes when you finally have a signed piece of paperan official commitmentbetween two people?

A Family Studies article points to a few roadblocks that hold couples back from tying the knot:

  • Some worry a dream wedding is too expensive.
  • Others have grown up in an unstable family and don't want to repeat the cycle.
  • Many fear divorce.
  • A lot are afraid to make such a big commitment.
What can you do to overcome these hurdles and fully commit to your relationship?

Cut back on the wedding expenses

Who doesn't want a perfect fairy tale wedding? Even though this is one of the most important days of your life, maybe there are ways to make it happen a bit more frugally. Starting out life as a married couple with debt is often not be the best way to go. Think twice before spending lots of money that may better serve you in savings or for buying your first home. Find a few key elements that are really important to your dream wedding, and focus on those.

Learn from the past

Even if you grew up in an unstable familyabuse, divorce, addiction, etc.that doesn't mean you are doomed to repeat the situation. You can be better than your past; use your parents' mistakes to learn from, and don't make those same mistakes. You may want to consider talking to a professional or seeking relationship or family support classes to learn better ways to handle difficult situations.

Don't dwell on divorce

Yes, some marriages end in divorce, but trends don't have anything to do with your individual relationship. Two fully committed partners can get through hard times together. Focus on staying married and staying in love. If necessary, find a marriage counselor to help you find tools to overcome obstacles and strengthen your marriage.

Get comfortable with commitment

Yes, a piece of paper can change a relationship. It's a huge sign of commitment, one that is harder to break than cohabiting. It can be scary to make such a big change, but it can also change your relationship for the better. When two people live together unmarried, each partner could be afraid that at any moment his or her significant other may call it quits. However, in a marriage, it's not only more difficult to simply undo the relationship, but people tend to want to make it work; they want a happy and strong marriage, so they work harder for it.

Getting married is a sign of commitment. It's a pledge to each other that you want to be together forever and support each other even when things are rough. If you've found the person you want to be with forever, who you're willing to work through problems and share happiness with, then fully commit to them. Other people's relationships do not determine the success of your own. You can build on your pastnot matter how grim it wasby making it better. It may be the most important piece of paper you ever sign.
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