Why Do Men Marry at All?

Tim Brown thinks of four reasons why he would even consider marriage.

This weekend I had a homeboy get married. I know … who plans a wedding during football season, on rivalry weekend at that? Still, it was a good time seeing someone walk into the next chapter and phase of life. What was really interesting was the number of married men who walked up to the single men asking ‘who’s next?’

Needless to say, it got me to thinking, why do men get married at all? The news is filled today with reports about the changing dynamic and social norms in regards to marriage and how people either wait longer to take the plunge or eschew it altogether. A few reasons occurred to me.

Relinquishing control: Being married means that you have to give up control in a lot of ways. Its not necessarily complete submission per se, but it is allowing someone to be able to affect you physically and emotionally in ways that as a single person, you don’t have to, and in such a way that it directs your life trajectory.

Make life easier: Sometimes I find in the dating process that women describe more of a servant than a companion when it comes to their idea of an ideal husband. They want a guy who can come home, cook, clean, be a handyman, pump their gas … . That sounds like an extra job!

But a man wants a woman who makes his life easier, too. Not necessarily in a practical, take care of home sense, but more in a way like ‘you are worth me getting up and going to battle with the world daily’ kind of way.

Yes, I do think a man should want to take care of his woman, leading to …

Responsibility: A married man ultimately is responsible for his wife and family’s well-being. This means that if he has a wife and two kids and only three pieces of chicken, he doesn’t eat. He makes sure their needs are met.

Cleave to family: This was probably the biggest revelation, with the weekend being a holiday weekend. For my biblical scholars, Genesis 2:24 says a man should leave his family and cleave to his wife. Well, this in a lot of instances means that he is ‘leaving behind’ people he loves in order to make this happen. Obviously, they will still be his family, and he will still see them, but his involvement in their life will be extremely reduced. Creating your own family that is central to your life is a step forward into maturity and posterity.

Back to my friend who got married … we never had an in depth conversation as to why he got married. But, his new union saw him quit his job so that he could move with his wife overseas in her professional pursuit. He’s not the kind of guy to do this lightly or impulsively, so I know that some of what I’d been thinking of weighed on his mind as he made the choice. Despite only having met his wife once, I feel like she is a dynamic personality who is a fit for him and that the two of them will build a stable and strong union.

If you ever wonder why men are hesitant to take that big leap, keep in mind some of the things that it means when a man asks for a woman’s hand in marriage. The courage it takes to leap might not be visible to anyone but his bride.


Read more in Weddings on The Good Life.

Image credit: bsabarnowl/Flickr

About Tim Brown

TB is a single 30 something living in Atlanta, GA. He is a former collegiate athlete and now
works in academia. Mentor, brother, and friend are all titles in his list of accomplishments.


  1. can friendship alongside with companionship work in marriage without love

  2. For starters, it’d be nice if everybody had the same rights to get married. Otherwise, I agree with the sentiment that this article sounds like reasons to avoid marriage. Doesn’t effect me either way, as a polyamourist. Nobody wants to allow us to get married. But if this is a pro-marriage article, it needs better incentives for men to be a convincing argument.

  3. Men marry because marriage is the only way for most men to ensure sex and intimacy on a regular basis, conveniently.

    Sure many married men are sexually frustrated or stuck in sex-less marriages, but atleast the primary incentive to get married is the one I’ve mentioned above.

    Good looking, handsome, tall, popular, charming, Alpha males dont need to get married. They can get sex, physical intimacy and affection from women w/o getting married or committed in monogamous relationship. These men can have flings, affairs, casual relationships etc.

    Women dont get married to for sex intimacy or companionship. Women marry because they want children, a family and they want a partner. Women can get sex, intimacy and male companionship easily.

    It is rarely acknowledged that men and women marry for very different reasons.

  4. I wonder something. I wonder if all this talk of men and marriage is coming from the fact that it was more assumed (rather than proven) that marriage was some sort of win/win situation for men (and lose/lose for women). Maybe its coming to light that marriage isn’t all sunshine and cupcakes for men (and questioning if it ever really was)?

  5. Some of these are a little more descriptive than proscriptive (meaning, some of this might occur in a relationship, but few are necessary). Many of these are objections I (as a woman) believed before I met the man I am in a serious relationship with. I was so protective of my independence. I’d taken care of myself, paid the bills, etc for many years on my own. If you meet someone wonderful, and you are both ADULTS instead of children, you realize that building a life together with someone else is mostly gravy.
    Also: the author is making the leap from marriage to children. If you are married, you ARE a family already. Deciding to have children together is another matter altogether.

    None of these reasons are why I am finally considering the possibility of marriage.

  6. Skull Bearer says:

    Missing the main reason people get married: in order to be able to face the world knowing someone you love has got your back.

    • wellokaythen says:

      My question is, are there other ways, or even better ways, to get that besides getting married? Is getting married the best, most reliable way to have someone you love on your side?

    • Peter von Maidenberg says:

      How about being able to face the world at all? Single straight men over a certain age are expendable in this society. One of my best friends – never married, depressed, a common type – hit his late 40s, cut off most of his old buds, and 4 years later had drunk himself into an early grave. He was a romantic, maybe even the creepy type, but really a good and caring guy.

      He shouldn’t have done it to himself, but did he do it all to himself? Nice people carry all this bullshit baggage to protect ourselves from “losers” like my friend. I’m mid 40s, alone, depressed, and I like a drink, too. I’m getting to that expendability zone.

      Sure, change society, it needs it. But that takes decades. What about those of us caught in the wheels till it changes?

      • Interesting. Single women around 50 are having the sex lives of a rockstar and whine at the same time the dearth of good men to settle down with. They say “the dating scene is full of losers and players’

        Most men over 40 are worthless in the dating / sex scene and drinking themselves to death.

  7. wellokaythen says:

    “Not necessarily complete submission per se….”

    That’s hardly a ringing endorsement! That description would scare most sane men away from getting married.

    I say this as a happily married man who wasn’t always so happily married: a lot of these reasons described here look like excellent reasons for a man NOT to get married. Taking on more responsibility just for the sake of taking on more responsibility seems like a poor reason, but maybe I’m just lazy. I talked a lot with my wife over what kind of partner each of us wants, she doesn’t want any of those four reasons to be the main ones for being married to her, and I don’t either.

    • Hi Wellokaythen, could you share what would be your and your wife’s four reasons? 🙂

      • wellokaythen says:

        Shoot, I was afraid someone was going to ask that. Now I have to actually explain myself instead of just spouting off….

        For my wife and I, the main reason to get/stay married is because of the value of the relationship in both our lives. I suppose that “making your life easier” is the closest thing on the author’s list. I would put it as “making your life better.” Your marital relationship should add to your life in some meaningful way, as defined by each of you and both of you together. Of course there’s responsibility and obligation and sacrifice, but neither of us wants our marriage to be all about that and nothing else. Keeping a relationship healthy takes some work, but if the relationship is always work, always obligation, always sacrifice, all the time, then no thanks.

        For me this was a hard-earned lesson, after not giving much thought at all what I wanted out of marriage before I got married. Better late than never, at least.

  8. Responsibility: A married man ultimately is responsible for his wife and family’s well-being. This means that if he has a wife and two kids and only three pieces of chicken, he doesn’t eat. He makes sure their needs are met.

    I can respect what you’re getting at here but I’m of the mind that I’d marry the woman that would say, “No we share that third piece.” Or would at least offer to share.

    Good list of things to bear in mind though.

    • wellokaythen says:

      Maybe my own sarcasm is clouding my sense of other people’s writing, but I wonder if these are reasons to *avoid* marriage, disguised as reasons to *get* married.

      Then again, martyrdom has always had its appeal to some people down through the ages….

      • Yes, this struck me as puzzling too. What the article gives are four excellent reasons NOT to get married. I thought it was going to list some reasons in FAVOR of marriage???


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