A good friend of mine shot me a message the other day asking to talk. When we got on the phone, he asked me a question that left me puzzled. He’s a single guy that has been dating but is thinking about getting serious and committing. He asked me what was the difference between dating and marriage. It should have been a straightforward answer on my part, but I was stumped.

It’s not, however, the same as being marriage.
I have been married for sixteen years. I married my wife the day after I turned 18, so I should have an interesting perspective on getting married young. My friend is a younger guy who’s in his late twenties. After thinking about our talk, and what I would have said, here are four differences between dating and getting married.

Dating is a tryout for marriage. Dating offers you the chance to explore and learn before you make the serious commitment of marriage. You can move in with someone and share different aspects of your life to test out what marriage would be like with that person. It’s not, however, the same as being married. There are different legal aspects of marriage (such as bank accounts, taxes, will’s, etc.) that you can’t experience while dating. This can be good or bad—it depends on your specific situation.

It’s dangerous to try the benefits of marriage when you’re dating. That legal stuff, well, you can try it while you’re dating, but it’s not advisable. I could list story after story of couples who were dating, and attempted to combine their bank accounts and their end of life preparations where it turned into a disaster. Even some married couples don’t combine everything, so it seems scary to try it while you’re dating. When you’re married, you make a legal declaration in the eyes of the law that you’re combining your life with another person.

Marriage is the ultimate form of commitment. Saying, “I Do” and signing those papers is serious business. You’re making a public declaration to the world and in the eyes of the law. You’re saying that you want to spend the rest of your life with one person, and they are a person you’re willing to face tough times with. Yes, you can do some of this while you’re dating, but it’s not the same thing–ask your partner.

Marriage is worth fighting for. There are some relationships that will come and go while you’re dating. When you’re married, you have a strong desire to work through any problems. There’s a shift that happens in your mind that makes you willing to do whatever it takes to stay together. I’m NOT talking about staying together if there’s abuse; I’m talking about the normal relationship stuff.

No one is perfect, and sadly, people hide who they are.
I realize getting married might not be something every guy considers or does, and I don’t claim to speak for every man. I also realize that a lot of marriages end in divorce. Just because you make the commitment doesn’t mean it will last, but it can.

Marriage can be wonderful. It can also be the worst thing that ever happened to you. It’s important to use dating as a way to learn and grow closer to someone. It’s an opportunity to get to know that person and determine whether or not you want to make that commitment.

No one is perfect, and sadly, people hide who they are. All any guy can do is the best he can to make important decisions and choices. I hope you find that special someone and you live happily ever after. Love is amazing. Here’s to you and your happiness!


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