I was reading the inside flap of Elizabeth Gilbert's "Committed". I had read "Eat Pray Love" and found it to possibly be the most honest and well written book I'd seen in a very long time. The main reasons you don't see many books this honest is that it is hard to survive writing such a book both emotionally, financially and mentally. So, Kudos to Elizabeth Gilbert in her innovative way that she communicates with all of us who can stand that level of honesty in our lives.
However, marriage is another thing and thinking about it as an institution might be confusing to some, simply because it is to one degree or another a completely different experience for any couple that actually gets and lives together married. So, it can be the best, the worst, the middle and everything in between and usually is for most of us.
When I married my third wife at age 47 some might say, "especially George Clooney" that I was a glutton for punishment. However, my point of view has always been since the 1960s and 1970s that the only reason(for me at least) to be married at all would be to have and raise children. So, for me, marriage was always for the children first and less for me and the wife. So, if you have a really good marriage (which I do now) (third time is the charm) so much the better. But that hasn't been and isn't usually the case.
Marriage has always been (since it was invented) as a way to keep Mother, father, and children all together and taking care of each other until they die, and even then carrying on the memories (hopefully mostly good ones) of ones parents and brothers and sister until they die and hopefully all their kids will keep what is best alive always forever on into the future of mankind on this planet and others.
However, being "in Love" and married is a relatively new invention. Until about 1300 to 1500 at the earliest being "in love" wasn't considered practical beyond a one night stand (at most a month). So, even trying to stay in love for a lifetime wasn't ever seen as very practical until about the last 500 years.
Hopefully, your parents married you to someone nice enough for you to stand being alive and raising your kids together with. But love, (at least at first was never the plan). The plan was to find a way for the kids to survive and inherit any wealth you had accumulated and to carry on your traditions etc. That was about it.
So, then we move to today where I would say we have two basic kinds of people who consider getting married. Since most people fall into the first category I will mention it first. These are the impulsive, "Let's get married!","Let's elope to Las Vegas!"," Let's live together!" and so they do and most of the time it doesn't work out for the couple or the kids. But this is the average marriage right here.
Second, we have the "I won't marry until I have enough money to take care of everyone" kind of person. Now, what often happens to this person is that they miss the boat entirely because they are so busy having everything financially perfect that they are usually 35 or 40 or more before they want to be married and often by then all the good ones are taken and they die alone or just have multiple relatively unhappy relationships. However, there are some good marriages that also come from these types of people and usually this is more likely in middle class to rich environments and people.
There is a saying, "Money doesn't make you happy." I agree with this. But it is also a statistical fact that what happens with money in a relationship and not love is what ends a relationship first.
This might not make sense to some of you who haven't lived very long yet. But it isn't a lack of love or even unfaithfulness that ends most marriages, it is money. You might ask "Why?" and this is a very very good question.
The answer goes something like this. If one partner has all the money then it compromises the relationship. The one who doesn't control the money is more likely to be jealous of the one who does. However, if the wealthy one shares in a good and efficient way with the other partner this can work out, if not people tend to drift apart or form new relationships while married or just get divorced or have affairs. So, it is usually the one who doesn't have money that feels harmed and who wants revenge in this type of relationship.
Then there is the relationship where both people make a lot of money. However, what they each want to do with this money is different. Where they want to live is different. Where they want to vacation is different and so they drift apart.
Then there is the couple that started dating at age 12 and got pregnant somewhere between 14 and 16 and never went to college and never had anything not even a car or a home that they owned. Sometimes people can live a whole lifetime like this and be incredibly happy. For others (usually one of the partners) just love and nothing else just isn't enough somewhere along the way and leaves for something better or someone better or some place better.
There are many other scenarios that you and I have both seen or lived in our lives but it is only people who really like each other and who are mature enough to sacrifice for their best friend and their kids together that actually do stay together and who stay happy enough to say of their marriage, "Getting married was the best thing I ever did!"