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According to the American Psychological Association, 90% of people in Western cultures marry by the age of 50. In isolation the number seems impressive, especially when you consider how many couples are choosing to opt out of matrimony these days, but there is another, more troubling side to the story. In the United States alone, 40-50% of those marriages end up in divorce, with the rate in subsequent marriages being even higher.

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So the ultimate question becomes: Should those of us who have yet to tie the knot even bother? Or should we just save our time and money and instead work on our relationships as a whole without the legal commitment?

I’d like to address both sides of the coin in this article and will begin with a beyond heartwarming photoshoot (in the style of the movie The Notebook) recently done by Clemma and Sterling Elmore, who have been married for a remarkable 57 years.

The photoshoot stands as testament to the attainability of a longterm marriage, with both husband and wife here clearly as in love today as they were when they first said “I do”.

If the pictures didn’t tug on your marriage-loving heartstrings enough already, Clemma and Sterling’s reasoning for the shoot surely will. As the photographer told BuzzFeed, they did it “just because.”

The couple also opened up to ABC News about some of the key ingredients to their long-lasting and successful marriage:

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  • Working at their relationship
  • Respecting each other
  • Telling each other “I love you” at least 10 times per day

If Clemma and Sterling can maintain their partnership so happily, what’s  preventing so many of us from doing the same?

Perhaps the issue lies in the event we have adopted as the normal and necessary way for couples to “properly” begin this journey together. Weddings can be a beautiful and joyous occasion, but at their core, at least in the Western world, they are a business.

In the United States, the average budget for a wedding has now soared to over $28,000, with over $40 billion being spent in the country on them per year. Given how costly life has become in so many other realms, does it really make sense for couples to embark on their journey together by spending such a large portion of their hard-earned money on a single party?

The history behind marriage is, in my opinion, best described by a new video released by the awesomely funny people at College Humor. Titled “Why Weddings Are A Total Rip-Off,” the video features the now-infamous Adam Conover and is part of his series, Adam Ruins Everything.

As Adam mentions in the video, wedding receptions — at least as we’ve come to know them — are not only a concept developed by profit-driven businesses, but are also relatively new in our history. I doubt that Clemma and Sterling’s wedding reception was anywhere near as elaborate as their modern counterparts, yet, despite what marketers would have us believe, that didn’t seem to stop them from finding a deep and long-lasting connection.

So perhaps the answer to my initial question about whether we should get married is not a yes or no, but rather another question about the way in which we do so. If a wedding is truly important to both you and your partner, then go for it and enjoy the entire process. But if it is doing nothing but creating unnecessary stress and hardship, than don’t be afraid to opt for something a little more unconventional.

Whether you are married or single, I’d love to know your thoughts on this matter, so please share them via the comment section below.

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