These days, it is a valid question to ask somebody: Why do you want to get married?
Marriage used to be an arrangement of living, a complimentary role fulfillment, a division of labor, a natural progression of maturity, a prerequisite to having a family, an expected step to become part of the adult world, and most of all, a start of being responsible for someone in your life.
Our biological relations were handed down to us, and to get married is to forge a new blood line. It is a miracle that almost all human beings alive are a consequence of a male and a female deciding to commit their lives together and to (unconsciously perhaps) restrict their life choices in order to bring up up their children.
It was hard for a single man, or for a single woman, to be happy or to flourish.
Not so much any more. And anyone these days who professes a need to have a relationship is seen, especially since the advent of new age spirituality, as being an incomplete or an unfortunate or an unhappy person.
It is frequently heard that two happy people (i.e., who don't need each other to be happy) can have a happy marriage, and that if you are unhappy due to being single, you will not be happy after getting married. It is said that you should have a rich inner life, lots of hobbies, and should have your "own space".
I think this way of thinking, though a sign of the times, is not a good portent to stable marriages.
A marriage will survive if two people need each other to be happy and if they need each other to live well. If they are self-sufficient, and each can do anything that the other can also do, the stability of their marriage is going to be an uphill struggle. There will be frequent validations required, a search for ways to "keep the spark alive", a persistent need of expressions of love, chronic feelings of inadequacy, and a predilection to go one's own way if the going gets tough.
In the past, if the man was being a good provider and protector, and the woman remained pretty or in shape, was a good homemaker and a mother, it was very easy to have a happy home. Now-a-days, if both earn, and both act as a mother to the children, and both do housework, it is not easy to see why a marriage will last long. Emotional bonds, in the absence of other factors, are fickle. Sexual desire, or shared hobbies, or shared values, can bring two people together, but cannot sustain their being together.
People who seek the amorphous goals of "fulfillment" and "growth" through their relationships are not going to have an easy time. Fulfillment and growth are side-effects, as it were, of a healthy relationship. A relationship can't be based on these goals, but needs to have something more concrete at its foundation.
Consider two scenarios:
A: A wife tells her husband that she is going to be away for two weeks, and the husband says, "No problem, I'll manage without a hitch." Or, a husband is to go on a business trip for a week, and the wife says: "Have fun! I will too."
B: A wife tells her husband that she is going to be away for two weeks, and the husband says, "Aw shucks, how will I manage?" Or, a husband is to go on a business trip for a week, and the wife says: "Oh dear, it is going to be so difficult for me alone."
Which scenario makes you think that the husband and wife are going to have a long, stable, happy marriage?
And which scenario is the current ideal for an individual in our society?
I think increasingly, due to prosperity and various other factors, people are relating to each other for purely emotional or sexual reasons, and they can manage their lives and homes and careers just fine (or so they think) on their own. They want to feel great with each other, to spend time with each other, and so they invent activities (mostly related to vacuous show-business events or to spending money eating out, shopping or seeing a "new place") to do together. They have a nagging suspicion that it is too much effort and that they would rather spend time with themselves.
We are told by the media that emotional or sexual reasons are primarily why we should get married. That love is all-important, and nothing else matters. I think that is a very wrong message. A couple certainly needs emotional and sexual compatibility, and for them to love each other is great, but that is not enough, not by a long shot, to want to spend their lives together.
A nut and a bolt may love each other, but even if at times they don't, they are and will feel incomplete without each other, and will not be fulfilled for long on their own. Two nuts, on other hand, may decide to be together because they feel they have a "connection", but they are tempting fate.
Here's an interesting, small book titled "The Family and Society" by Leonid Zhukhovistky, about this and other topics. I found it a breezy, and quite a fascinating and at times touching read.