TED Conversations

Debra Smith


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Can you tell me what motivates a man to get married? What is marriage to a man living today? Do you also have a theory of why women marry?

We all havw ideosyncratic meanings for words. I see it all the time here on TED. When, however that disconnect in meaning touches something as foundational as our meaning about the prime relationship of our life = it is scary so I ask all my friends and interlocuators here if you might help me by sharing your own defination..

Addition^^^^ If a man has proposed to me- can you give me an idea why and what it means?


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    Jun 15 2012: Personally, I never could understand what motivated anyone to get married. Always seemed like most of the married people I knew were miserable with each other. Yes, marriage can serve a useful function to bind people together in order to create a stable environment for raising kids. But beyond that, what is the point? If two people love one another and want to be together, why not just live together? Is turning it into a legal contract somehow going to improve the relationship? Well, I guess there are the tax advantages and the sharing of health insurance and the sundry other material benefits. But is getting hitched for financial reasons really wise?

    I think the motivation (for both men and women) to get married is the belief that doing so will somehow increase the probability that their mate will stay around and be faithful. But does it?

    What do you think Debra? What would (did) motivate you to get married?
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      Jun 21 2012: Tim, You enrich every disussion with your inclusive style.

      I read your response with avid interest, now that i can get in again and I guess my answer is that for me it has something to do with 'belonging' We discussed that book "Sex at Dawn" I think, and I really felt anger when I realized that men who died long ago had highjacked my own relationship with the inputs of my body. I am still working that through in my own life but i still think I feel that if a man wanst to call my body his home base - he better be willing to publically acknowledge me. Does that make any sense to you?
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        Jun 21 2012: Yes, I agree on the desire for acknowledgement of the relationships we consider most special in our lives. But the need for a legal contract? That seems most founded on the unequal power relationship between women and men which always existed in the past. But aren’t we getting beyond that?

        I always remember a statement I read (I think it was one of Plato’s writings) that said that you can’t be a true friend with your slave. Even if you believe you have a strong friendship, some event will always arise with makes you aware of the shortcomings of the connection. Isn’t the same true in any grossly unequal power relationship?

        So if true friendship is sought with our partner, isn’t it imperative that we seek equality first? And does a legally binding constraint aid or hinder the sense of equality?
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          Jun 22 2012: Tim, I do adore you and the fact that you consider the level of fairness and equality in a relationship warms my heart. I do have to analyze why I am so surprised but as Cladeus pointed out, I clearly have unanticipated effects which linger as a result of his infidelity. I am working diligently on that.
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        Jun 23 2012: Debra. You don’t know how much I miss our open-ended discussions ; )
    • Jun 22 2012: Did anyone say love.? Or have I simply overlooked it.? I think love, coupled with the desire to have children and raise a family, is the reason most people marry today. However raising children in a bad marriage probably does more harm to the 'institution of marriage' than a broken marriage (divorce) does. Note that I'm saying harm to the 'institution of marriage' - I'm not commenting on any perceived harm to the children themselves.

      I've often said that marriage is ultimately responsible for the ruin of more relationships than any other single thing.. and I'm only half jesting.
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        Jun 22 2012: I think Mohammad Aizat mentioned love first, consistent with his nature and outlook.

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