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Getting engaged is one of the most significant milestones in a couple’s relationship.
When they get engaged, each partner is agreeing that they are committed to getting married and to spend their lives together.
But why do people get engaged?
It’s easy to just say that they do so because they are in love and want to get married, but there are other factors at play that may or may not become part of the decision making process for one or both partners.
People may come to this decision consciously or subconsciously.
Let’s go over some of the reasons people choose to make this long-term commitment and tie the knot.
Love is an obvious answer.
When you truly, deeply love someone, getting engaged to be married is an act of love.
Each partner loves the other in a way that can’t be broken, so why wouldn’t they get engaged?
An engagement, whether short or long, leads to marriage and, with a marriage, they’re solidifying their love for each other in the strongest way possible.
Getting engaged and committing to spending your lives together means that you’ll never be alone. A spouse is a life-long companion.
The need for companionship is built into humans and the best way to secure a companion is marriage.
Being single can be a real drag. Sure, it’s fun while you’re young and stupid. But as we age, we see our friends get married and inevitably we see less of them in our everyday lives.
For many people, the longer you’re single the more you want to meet someone to marry.
Getting engaged and getting married gives us someone to spend time with, laugh with, watch telenovelas with, burn the Thanksgiving turkey with and pick out new carpeting with.
To some, the act of committing for life is very important. Loyalty, faithfulness and commitment are at the foundations of dating, being engaged and marriage.
If a couple has dated for awhile, and wants to prove their commitment, then they agree to be exclusive and to stop seeing other people.
How long they date before ultimately getting engaged and then married varies greatly. But once they get to the engagement stage, they’re learning a lot about what it takes to be committed to each other.
This learning never stops. And if the commitment is strong enough, their relationship will never end either.
Societal Expectations or Family Pressure
Marriage is such a long-standing tradition that it’s expected by society and pressed onto couples by family members. “It’s always been that way,” is a common argument for why people get engaged.
So common that some couples ultimately cave to marriage because everything all around them is telling them to.
In the fall, aka engagement season, it can seem like everyone you know is getting engaged.
And in the spring and summer it’s hard to shop at a Kohl’s or a Target without seeing shelves full of bachelorette party favors and crafty wedding decorations.
From the time we are little we are bombarded with images of marriages. As quick proof, here’s a fact: there are no fewer than 15 weddings in animated Disney movies, old and new.
And it doesn’t stop as you grow up and start watching more R-rated films than G-rated films.
Plus, the older you get the more often you’ll hear some variation of the (uncomfortable) phrases, “So, when are you going to get married?” and “Hurry up and get engaged already, Grandma wants grandkids.
We don’t have to like it, but it’s a fact of life. Societal expectations and pressure from family are big reasons why people get engaged.
For Their Happy Ending
Hollywood certainly does its fair share of driving couples to get engaged.
Movie tickets are easier to sell when the script comes to a satisfactory conclusion, and with all those warm fuzzies floating around, it’s easy for people to wish that their lives can turn out like the movies.
Riding off into the sunset and living happily ever after helps to fulfill the American Dream and is another reason that people get engaged.
Provide Security for Children
Many people believe two is better than one when it comes to parents.
Two parent households often have an easier go of raising children, keeping them safe and providing them with the resources they need to grow up to be good citizens and stay out of trouble.
Two incomes. Two voices of reason. Two shoulders to cry on when a child is feeling sad. Two people to hug them and to shower them with pride at a job well done and possibly even four grandparents to spoil them rotten.
Make a Public Commitment to Each Other
For some, getting engaged is a public affair.
This might be true for you if you’ve found someone you want to marry and feel like shouting it from the top of the tallest mountain and telling the entire world how happy you are.
Your proposal might come in the form of a flash mob, a jumbotron or during a large family gathering. Or maybe the proposal itself happens privately, but then the news is shared far and wide.
One reason why people get engaged is to announce to each other and everyone they know that they’ve found their person and are taking themselves off the market for good.
Legal Status and Governmental Benefits
While there are no legal ramifications of actually being engaged, it’s a precursor to getting married and for some, the legal and governmental benefits bestowed upon married people is a reason to get engaged.
Some rights are bestowed upon married couples that aren’t given to single people. These include but are not limited to:
- Adoption rights and joint foster care rights
- Health insurance plan qualification
- Family leave policies
- Bereavement leave allowances
- Social security benefits
- Disability benefits
- Veterans benefits
- Death benefits
- Hospital visitation benefits
- Tax and estate planning benefits
A closely related reason people get engaged and get married is for financial security.
In some instances, people intentionally marry someone with more money than them, with a better paying job or with a career path that is on a higher trajectory.
And sometimes it’s just about combining resources, whether one person has significantly more or not.
The fact is that it’s getting harder and harder to pay the bills with just one income, making financial security another reason people get engaged.
Religion is a very strong force in many people’s personal lives.
Many couples who want to be together get engaged because their religious texts and faith-based leaders tell them they should in order to better themselves and/or to please their higher powers.
Why Do People Get Engaged?
There are nearly as many reasons for getting engaged as there are facets in a diamond engagement ring.
It’s usually because of a combination of these and others, but whatever your reason, we hope getting engaged is one of the happiest moments of your life.
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McKenzi Taylor is America’s go-to elopement and micro wedding expert, often featured in small and major media outlets, such as the New York Times. With over 15 years of wedding photography experience, it was after planning her own Las Vegas elopement in 2016 that McKenzi felt her purpose shift into elopement coordination. She started Cactus Collective Weddings soon after in 2017. Since then, she’s become a WIPA board member, and has helped well over 1000 couples get hitched in style around Las Vegas, San Diego and Black Hills.