Capstone or Cornerstone Marriage?

How do you view marriage? What does it mean to you? I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what marriage means to me. When you’ve been engaged for almost two years and haven’t started planning a wedding, you’re obviously going to do a little soul searching as to why you’re waiting and what it all means. To really wrap my head around it, I’ve tried to distance myself from the entire industrial marriage complex and the opinions of friends and family with the hopes of understanding the institution for myself.

I recently came across a fascinating distinction between two types of marriage, Capstone and Cornerstone, coined by a study put together by the National Marriage Project.

Here’s a loose definition:

Capstone marriage: Where marriage is seen as a kind of reward after you’ve accomplished a certain number of goals in your life, whether they are professional, personal, etc.

Cornerstone marriage: It’s where your marriage is your starting point, something from which you build a life.

To me, I’d have to say I view marriage more in the capstone way. It’s like an icing on the cake sort of deal. So, perhaps the reason I’ve delayed marriage is because I don’t feel like I’ve accomplished my career goals. But the scary thing is – considering how challenging my career choice is, I could be waiting FOREVER to get married if I’m waiting to be a professional success.

When I initially read about these definitions, I assumed that capstone and cornerstone marriages are simply a matter of age: if you marry young, that’s probably a cornerstone marriage. And marrying older is probably a capstone marriage. But, since I may marry before I’m professionally successful, is that a cornerstone marriage?

Semantics aside: I have reached one conclusion. I do think it’s important to mark transitions. Even if it’s a very personal marker between you and your partner. Marking the beginning of a new, committed journey. And to back that up, there was a statistic on the National Marriage Project that those people who “slide” into life transitions – i.e., those who don’t consciously decide to mark a transition by an official wedding and simply start co-habitating together,  are less likely to enjoy happy marriages.

Food for thought.

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