Marriage and the impact of changing social dynamics

Jun 16, 11 Marriage and the impact of changing social dynamics

Marriage is one of the most memorable thing in a person’s life. It marks the start of a new chapter in the lives of 2 individuals when they decide that they are willing to put aside a part of themselves to stand together as a couple. I once heard a quote, and thought it’s really quite true. “Monogamy is when a person decides that staying together is more worthwhile than chasing personal wants.”

However social dynamics have changed significantly in the last 10 years, and one of the things I have been pondering about is marriage. The main reason is actually because most of my peers are starting to get married, and I have attended 8 weddings in 6 months! But that’s not the only things I have observed. I have seen quite a number of shotgun marriages, a number of people getting married for the sake of moving out from parents, and a few divorces, separations and annulments.

From that, I believe in the next 10 years, there will be far less marriages than now. Let’s look at it logically. Since I’m a guy, I will largely present the guy’s point of view. I believe guys get married for 4 main reasons,

Family pride and name

One of the main reasons why guy’s get married is for the family name. This is one of those deeply ingrained asian culture that we have. In India, a person’s choice of a spouse is irrelevant. The parent’s choice is more important. In most chinese, the surname and family name is a very significant thing. Having family culture and future generation was probably one of the biggest concern of our parents and grandparents time. Even for myself, when I was in secondary school, one of my considerations when looking for a girlfriend was if she would be a good mother to my kids. (Okay fine. Go giggle behind my back). This has been diluting a lot these days, where personal desires are more important than family desires. Some couples are not having kids because they don’t find a desire for it. I don’t fault them, because I can understand the reasons.

Intimacy and companionship

Lion_Marriage1Emotional and physical companionship. This is probably one of the reasons why people from kids to teenagers to senior folks get together. People just have a need for emotional attachment, where they can take comfort that someone is there for them. This is really a different feeling from being sociable in a group, or even having a group of close friends. The exclusiveness factor of 1 person with another person probably forms a kind of acceptance anchor where a person realise that at that point of time, the rest of the world doesn’t matter. But just as the broad social dynamics in the world is changing, especially with the way online or non face to face interactions are proliferating, this close companionship dynamics are changing. People still feel the desire to want to meet people face to face, but it’s artificially suppressed because that’s the way the world is becoming. Likewise, people still want an intimate companionship. That’s why there are so many people staying in relationships that have gone sour.

More and more so, people are starting to substitute emotional intimacy with other things, such as material needs, instant gratification, or plain just having fun (clubbing or otherwise).


sex_positions_right_angle_varbNeed I say more? Sex used to be limited to married couples. But nowadays, it just seems that people do not demand a high level of emotional commitment before indulging in this. Ironically, one of the main reason that is exacerbating this in my opinion is female empowerment. Females have gained significant social standing in the last 2-3 decades. They have seen guys sleeping around with not much detriment and they want a share of that too! There’s a saying that a guy that sleeps around is a stud, and a gal that sleeps around is a slut. In the end, we would all have to agree that sex (or masturbation for those with a strong right hand and a strong imagination) is a pleasurable activity. The only thing stopping humans from indulging in 24 hours of sex is food and moral values.

Porn producers are catering more towards the female audience. Sex shops are selling more female products, in fact there are specialty dildo shops with some costing up to $200+! More and more females are becoming initiators of one night stands, when it used to be a male only initiator previously. Soon, social norms will not see a girl that sleeps around as a slut as much.

Independent living

In Singapore, you need to be either married or above 35 years old to buy a HDB. Private housing is just prohibitively expensive for a young working professional. So, some people get married for the sake of living away from parents. However, nowadays more and more studio apartments are coming on board. While I don’t think it is a good investment or a viable property segment for the long term, the absolute price for a 350 sq ft studio unit costs about the same as a normal 4rm/5rm HDB. So people don’t have to get married to move out of their parent’s house. They can just buy a slightly more expensive pigeon hole in the shape of a studio apartment.


One thing you would notice is how the 4 reasons for a guy to get married is getting weaker as time goes by. Some are due to the changing social dynamics, some due to economic dynamics, some are technological changes, while some are just breaking of broad cultural habits. One of the biggest social change is the concept of instant gratification VS delayed gratification. Having kids, saving for the future, following a religion, following a fitness/diet regime are essentially all actions of  delayed gratification. In a world of rush, people are looking at instant gratification as a way of feeling good. Not that it is a bad thing, but we would just have to understand the implications.


Of course, there has always been ‘obstacles’ of marriage, in the name of the women’s charter.

The women’s charter was enacted a long ago when females typically have less economic ability than males. In the past, females also tend to leave the working society to take care of their kids when they get married and give birth. Thus, you do need a women’s charter to protect these people since a divorce after 10 years of marriage would leave a female vulnerable with very little economic skill. But nowadays, females tend to earn their own keep. There is still a need for alimony, especially when there’s kids involved and the mother is the custodian, but for a married couple without kids and with similar economic power, I don’t see why there should be a women’s charter putting males at a disadvantage.

Definitely if a guy’s reason to get married is less, and the obstacles to get married remains, the likelihood of marriages would drop in the future right?

I still believe in the institution of marriage. And I hope that the world will too in the next few decades.


  1. Fergus /

    Would love to hear what everybody thinks about this. Do feel free to write on!

    Just to add, you can look at it from the flip side, that is, what can you do to encourage more marriages? Just strengthen the points that a person would want, such as encouraging family bonding, delayed gratification, lower quantity of small apartments, stronger moral values, and weaker women’s charter (or maybe a men’s charter for home maker husbands?)

  2. Gwenny /

    Glad to hear you still believe in the instituition of marriage :).

  3. Fergus /

    I guess I’m old fashioned that way.. Maybe because I see a very diverse group of people due to my job, I see a lot of families where a spouse cheats, and the other knows about it but closes 1 eye. And yes, that includes married women cheating.

  4. Thend /

    Where’s the island? I want to hear more about it! hahah.

  5. How about falling in love, man? like u very well know it may not be the best deal out there but would take a leap of faith, plunge into the dark. a conscious retardation and deliberate irrationality. something that wasnt a logical conclusion. which makes things romantic all the more………

  6. Fergus /

    Haha! Wait till I have 10 ex girlfriends.. Then one day, I’ll have a private island and invite them all for a nice party together:) We can all play mahjong and poker together 😀

    Well, falling in love does not necessarily lead to marriage. There are couples cohabiting, there are people eloping, and there are people who go on wild adventures together, but they need not necessarily get married in terms of status. Right?

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