If you ever talk to married people--I mean really talk, and listen between the lines--you'll find out that people get married for a variety of different reasons.
1. Some marry for passionate, romantic love, because they can't imagine their life without this person, and they can't wait to make it legal. Being together is the goal, and they are willing to face anything in order to achieve it.
2. Others marry for convenience--he was older, kind, good to her, and she could learn to love him in exchange for some financial security. (That happens with men and wealthy women, too.) There are many social benefits to being married.
3. Some marry for mutual life goals--they both wanted the same things out of life, like social status, education level or lifestyle. Life is just sweeter when you achieve your life goals.
4. Sometimes people have reached an age where they're simply ready to be married, ready to have kids, ready for that stage of life, so they find someone who is also ready for those things and move toward marriage. Would a different person who is also wanting a domestic life also be an acceptable match? Sure, but this person will do just fine. Send out the invitations!
Affection is a factor, as is compatibility, but when getting married, being deeply in love isn't always a necessity to every couple.
Kim A. Calvert wrote an article for the Washington Post where she outlines her reasons for considering marrying a good friend. This man isn't anything more than a friend, but they get along very well, want the same things out of life, and want the benefits that come with marriage. Both have been married before, and while he has children from his first marriage, they are already grown and she has no desire to raise kids. If people can get married for a variety of non-love-related reasons, then why not simply embrace that and marry someone she cares for and respects? Why should she miss out on the benefits of marriage because she hasn't found someone she feels passionately about?
In the past, marriages have been arranged for all sorts of different reasons--love never once entering the equation. Some of these marriages have been highly successful unions of two people who respect and care for each other. Some have left both people miserable. But regardless of how society has treated marriage in times past, there are some basic human experiences that remain universal: childbirth, parenthood, friendship, family ties, and falling in love.
I would argue that Kim's idea of marrying a good friend has one basic flaw: what happens when one of you falls in love? The experience of really falling for someone is incredibly powerful. Wars have been waged for love. Lives have been uprooted, people have chosen to die in defense of the person they love. So just because one or both of you haven't experienced this yet, doesn't mean it won't happen. And how heartbreaking to finally fall in love with someone else after you've married for convenience!
Marriage is a personal choice. If you wait too long and never do fall in love, will you regret not "settling" for the sweet guy who proposed? If you marry the guy who curls your toes, will you live to regret not looking closer at the issues that could potentially drive you apart? Marriage is a risk--there is no way around it--but in this author's humble opinion, it's a risk best taken with someone you adore.
What do you think? Is passionate love an absolute necessity in marriage? Could you marry someone you both liked and respected, without a passionate connection? I'd love to hear your take on it!
You can find me on my blog: PatriciaJohnsRomance.com, and on Facebook. I write for three different Harlequin lines: Love Inspired, Western Romance, and most recently, Harlequin Heartwarming.