There’s no denying that in most of the world, there’s a lot less pressure on younger generations to get married quickly than there was in generations past.

Attitudes toward cohabitation and taboos against premarital intimacy are relaxing across the board, and many couples find themselves asking questions like these:

What is the difference between a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship and actually getting married other than the fact that you are legally recognized as a couple? from AskReddit

I mean, sure, there’s a world of difference between say, a first date and a marriage, but if you’ve been living together for 5+ years and you suddenly tie the knot, what’s the big deal there?

Married people of Reddit chime in.

1. Arguments are different.

(Recently married) Already, when we argue, it’s different.

Leaving isn’t on the table, so escalating the fight is pointless, and we’re quicker to refocus and figure out the problem we have.

We’re conscious of the fact that we’re building something bigger than our individual happiness, and that frees us from the loneliness of being selfish.

– i_just_haveaquestion

2. Emotional and unexpected.

For me the difference was emotional and unexpected. We had been together 6 years at that point and I saw the ceremony as more of a chance to celebrate an existing commitment and affirm a religious belief than to change anything.

The ceremony was extremely moving. The gravity of the commitment and the certainty I felt, and could feel from my spouse, were extremely deep and meaningful and sacred. It was a very unique movement and I was not expecting it. Everything in my heart and being cheered.

Afterwards, everything just got easier. We’ve been married almost four years now and no fight has ever really felt as urgent or intense since. It’s just so obvious that we are a team and we will work it out, why get stressed? It’s a feeling of comfort and safety I believed I already had before we married, but I didn’t even begin to know the type of comfort when your partner is your family.

For others, they may not need a ceremony for that. For me, I unexpectedly did.

– Resentful_in_Dayton

3. Depth of commitment.

I believe it’s the depth of commitment.

Not to say that people who love each other and stay together for years aren’t committed, but when you legally bind yourself to someone else it makes it quite a bit harder to just walk away.

It also means that you accept joint responsibility for your SO in a way that can legally and financially affect your life forever, even if the relationship falls apart. And while former BF/GFs can affect your life negatively after a breakup, former spouses can do it a whole lot worse.

So, it’s accepting the responsibility for and possibility of all consequences.

That’s a deep commitment, IMO.

– withnoshame

4. What more do you need?

Before my partner died, we were together for 33 years and had two kids.

When her friends used to harass her for not pressuring me to marry her or to ‘show more commitment’ she always used to say “I’ve known him since school, we share tons of debt and he’s given me two beautiful sons – what more commitment do I need?” -and I’ll always love her for that.

– walkbu

5. So cute!

It was the first relationship in my life where I heard, “I’m not going to walk away, I’m not going to leave when things get hard. I want to be with you.”

We’ve been together 20 years.

We were engaged after 4 months, married at 6 months.

And I do think the commitment makes us work harder when things are difficult, and we’re stronger for it.

– PlasticineRobot

6. Nuthin’ but a name.

Nothing changes, at least it didn’t for me and my wife.

Our relationship is just the same as it was before we was married except one cool little thing……… I get to call her “My Wife” or ” The wife” which just feels nicer then “The Misses” or “My GF”.

– F**k-de-Tories

7. Deeper responsibility.

Marriage is a commitment. In a legal sense but also a cultural sense.

Nearly every human culture has some sort of wedding & marriage tradition with a couple’s friends, family, community, and religion.

You make a lifelong permanent commitment to another human being in front of everyone you know.

Your family becomes their family and visa versa. Your social network recognizes and accepts the union. You can’t just wake up one day and leave. You are tied to them and considered one unit.

– shaylaa30

8. The options change.

When we were boyfriend and girlfriend the option to easily leave was always there and it does change things to have that option go away – even when you WANT to be married!

I was with my husband for several years before we got married and the week we eloped it was like someone flipped a switch in my brain and I just kept thinking, “Oh my god we’re stuck with each other forever.” And I got very angsty and irritable with him for quite awhile because I think I had this idea in my head of how a “husband” should act (based on my dad, who is an excellent husband to my mom), and I was mad because my own husband was different from that idea in my head.

We had to have a lot of talks about how the entire dynamic of our relationship had shifted and our expectations for each other in these new roles. I really was surprised by it and so was he…. we’d been together for so long that we didn’t think marriage would change anything for us, but it definitely did.

The first six months were kind of tough but things improved as we continued to talk through it all. Now, we communicate better, have clearer expectations of each other, and are more committed than before with a much more stable relationship.

– n**i-julie-andrews

9. A learning experience.

I asked the same question for the longest time.

It wasn’t until my LTR GF started pushing to get married that I seriously considered what that meant, and I found I could not do it, even though I didn’t understand at the time why not.

That relationship ended, I went through a difficult time trying to figure out all my feelings and assumptions about relationships in an effort to learn what made for a healthy, safe relationship.

8 years later, I stood with my now wife in front of family & friends & proclaimed my love for my wife and promise to work through our issues and forgo any other relationships.

It was a transformative moment for me, & has provided us a great foundation for getting through tough times.

– Wisebutt98

10. Higher stakes!

It elevates the stakes of everything.

It’s no longer “I got in a fight with my boyfriend” it’s “I got in a fight with my HUSBAND who I have promised to spend my whole life with.” Things that may not have been a huge deal before, like your girlfriend’s in capability of remembering to start the dishwasher after she loads the dishes turns into something you look at and think “wow am I really going to spend my life with someone who does this all the time?”

As someone who was married very young, divorced, and now engaged to someone who fits me much better, I think the most important thing you can do when you are choosing someone to marry is to pick someone who’s faults you can live with. Yes he doesn’t take the garbage out til the very last second, but he’s never once yelled at me or called me names. He might be terrible at budgeting, but I am good at it so we’ll be fine. He makes me laugh harder than anyone, and tells me every day how much he loves me and that I’m beautiful.

I’m sure when we get married there will be higher stakes to things, but if we can survive being engaged through a pandemic, I think we can handle anything.

– phishphood17

11. Some next level stuff.

Lived with my now husband for six years before we got married. It really is a new level of commitment.

Even though we were emotionally committed to each other well before we got married, getting married was a real, concrete, act of committing to each other. We were no longer floating along on emotions and assumptions of the future.

By making a public declaration we proved to each other and ourselves that we really had skin in the game in a way that promises made privately in the living room just didn’t do.

– Abbreviations-Odd

12. The questions shift.

My wife and I were together for almost a decade before the wedding.

People stopped asking when we were going to get married and instead started asking when we were going to have kids.

Other than that there wasn’t much of a difference.

– computer_scare

13. “A promise to keep trying.”

Other than the legal aspect, there’s no difference in the actual relationship.

Marriage is our promise to keep trying.

This is why people who get married to save their relationship is a bad idea, if you are in a burning house, do you really think locking the doors is gonna help?

– blutwo42998

14. All about the money.

When you get married you take on the pressure of people expecting you to have kids and joint bank accounts.

2 kids out of the way and still most older generations don’t get why my wife and I don’t have a joint account.

Before we got married, and just lived together, we divided up the bills. This is your responsibility, this is my responsibility. No argument over money or spending because we each had our own money and responsibilities. When we got married and had kids, obviously, there came more bills. So we divided those up. The main argument in marriage is money. Mostly who is making more and spending more. It becomes less likely if you each have your own pot to buy from.

Maybe this is more common than I realize, but where I’m from people still think it’s outrageous.

– AndyZJ1

15. A very specific scenario…

You get in a car accident and you’re unconscious and the doctor needs to cut one of your nuts off or you’ll only have a 25% chance of surviving.

The doc can’t get that permission off your girlfriend you’ve had for three weeks, but can from your wife.

Your wife is your official family member, legally recognized next of kin.

And breaking up and divorce are very different from each other.

– dalinetta

You heard it here first, folks. Get married so your wife can tell your doctor to snip parts of you off. Or something.

What would you add to this conversation?

Tell us in the comments.