After the passage of the teenage years, a person has the choice of remaining single or getting married.
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Both are similar in two ways. Firstly, both single, as well as married persons, remain part of society, participating in it in various ways (such as being sportspersons, entertainers, politicians or entrepreneurs) and continue contributing to it in their own ways, also holding jobs and paying taxes to the government.
Secondly, both single persons, as well as married people, know that they are in a crucial stage of their lives that irrevocably leads to old age and retirement. Therefore the decision they take between staying single or getting married will dictate the later stages of their life decisively.
Staying single contrasts with getting married where decision-making is concerned. Single persons need to take unilateral decisions because such decisions (such as trying a new career or deciding to travel) only affects that single person and everything else related to the decisions (such as relocating to another place or provision of finance) do not involve or concern anyone else.
There is no question of that single person being accountable to anyone else for anything. However, decision-making is different in the case of married persons because the decisions have wider implications. A married person has to get the approval of his or her spouse before taking the decision because of its effect on the family as a whole.
If it is a decision involving embarking on a new career, the couple has to decide if the new job will be stable and secure or would need the buffer of the spouse’s earnings and/or family savings as a safeguard in case things turn out badly; or if it involves relocating to another place, matters like selling the existing house, taking up a new house, locating a new job for the spouse and finding suitable schools for children have to be considered by the married couple.
The second point of contrast between the two stages concerns the confirmation of societal norms. Deeply rooted in all societies, marriage is a basic social institution that has been tested and confirmed over centuries. It is in the world order of things for the population to grow and society to develop and thrive with the birth of children.
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Children need the protection of marriage and an intact family to grow up normally and have the most promising life prospects. Cushioned by parental care, children of married parents enjoy better health, better school grades, and fewer developmental problems. Married persons are, therefore, seen as useful contributors to society and the process of life.
Single persons, on the other hand, are considered either too afraid of commitment or too selfish to consider favorably contributing to society.
Even if they do have children (out of wedlock) such kids are more likely to experience various kinds of hardships such as poverty, abuse, behavioral and emotional problems, lower academic achievement, low self-esteem, being looked upon as social outcasts and falling easy prey to drug abuse and crime; a rise in these problems results in higher welfare program costs to the government to deal with them in a satisfactory manner.
The third point of contrast between the two stages relates to love and sex. Marriage is the ideal environment for a sexual relationship as there are very clear expectations on the part of both partners, solemn vows are taken to look after one another during hard times, and openness exists about the possibility of having children.
Sex within the marriage is the safest and sanest option for anyone seeking true intimacy with another. Married partners are confident in the fidelity of their spouses and freely engage in sex without fear of contracting sexually transmitted diseases.
Moreover, since love is the ingredient that makes sex much more enjoyable, married partners literally enjoy the very best that sex has to offer, partaking in the true meaning of the activity that is meant to satisfy the sexual urges of men and women within the legalized cocoon of marriage. In addition, when both married partners honor and abide by their marriage vows, their relationship improves on all fronts.
Single persons, on the other hand, have to satisfy their sexual urges through diverse ways such as visiting prostitutes, ‘one night’ stands, anonymous sexual encounters, and orgies. They may also resort to having mistresses or live-in lovers.
Not only are their sexual adventures or affairs habit forming and therefore financially expensive, but the persons also run the risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases like syphilis and AIDS because the providers of their sexual pleasure are promiscuous individuals who engage in sex with multiple partners not always taking proper care to check about prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases in them.
The fourth point of contrast between the two stages is about old age, lineage, and satisfaction of having led a fulfilled life. Married persons have children and create families. Their children bear their names and carry on their lineage into the next generation.
When the parents become old, they are generally looked after by their children in return for the love and care shown to them while they were raised and enabled to stand on their own feet. In such a situation, the old married parents feel happy and satisfied that they have lived a good life and have fulfilled all life’s expectations from their own viewpoint as well as in the eyes of society and God.
They can die happy deaths. Single persons are left stranded in old age. They have no one to turn to for help and to be looked after. They usually gravitate towards old age homes. As they go on to live the remaining years of their lives, they cannot profess to have lived a satisfactory life because they have no direct lineage to either inherit their financial assets or carry on their family name.