You’ve probably heard of the Ashley Madison Hack by now. Hackers released 9.7 GB of data including log-ins and account information for about 32 million users. To be fair, the hackers did warn the company to take down the site.
What is Ashley Madison? It’s a site set up so married people can have affairs with each other.
Now, I’m not naïve enough to believe the hackers released this information purely to defend marriage, but at the same time, it’s kind of nice to know they’ve attacked this company. Yes, hacking is bad and illegal and damaging, but so is infidelity (okay, maybe infidelity isn’t illegal).
Reading about the hack made me rethink my own marriage, though. If people are so willing to cheat in marriage (32 million users are on this one site alone!), why even get married? Why not just live together until we become bored of each other/annoyed with each other/grossed out by each other’s aging bodies? What’s the point of marriage? Honestly, what is the difference between getting married in the eyes of the law and just living together in a loving relationship for the rest of our lives?
See, I can’t use the explanation of marriage making me a better person because even though it’s true, that can happen in any long-term committed relationship. A piece of paper won’t affect that.
For that same reason, I also can’t use the explanation of marriage providing me with the love and support at home that I need to succeed outside of the home.
And I can’t say that marriage is the perfect environment for children to grow up in — as long as you love each other and you’re together, your children won’t even know the difference between your relationship and their friends’ parents that actually have that piece of paper.
So what’s the point? Tax breaks? A huge ceremony for your family and friends? Medical rights? What makes that piece of paper so worth fighting for?
I think it all boils down to goal setting.
When you have a goal, there are a couple of things that can keep you on the goal-achieving track. One is telling other people about your goal so you have someone to answer to. If you make a goal to stop drinking but you never tell anyone, it’s easy to justify drinking every now and then because it’s not like anyone knows you’re trying to stop.
Another way is to write down your goal and keep it somewhere you’ll see often. Every time you see it you’ll be reminded of your good intentions, and it will give you a little boost of motivation. For example, setting the lock screen of your phone to say “exercise today.” Every single time you touch your phone, you’ll see that reminder. Maybe it will be annoying, but once you’ve accomplished that goal, you’ll feel a surge of pride every time it pops up.
I think the difference between marriage and a committed long-term relationship is just that — a publicly made goal to be together forever, and you have undeniable evidence before your eyes at almost all times (no, not your certificate — your ring).
You also have written proof of the goals you made together — your vows. When was the last time you read through those? Maybe now is the time. And I’m sure Pinterest has plenty of cute and stylish ideas for displaying your vows somewhere in your house. Maybe reading those words daily will be the catalyst to help you get back on track to your goal of living and loving together forever.
Every person in a committed relationship knows that it’s not just a one-decision thing. Every single day you decide if the relationship is worth it to you, and you show your decision through your words and your actions. You’ve set this goal, now what’s your decision for today?