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When you consider the reasons that people get married there is one big reason that stands out. Love. And when we think of love and marriage we automatically think of romantic love. We are likely to picture two people full of passion and desire for each other and the life they are about to begin. But the truth is that there are many reasons why people marry and one of the biggest reasons outside of romantic love is companionship.

Companionship marriages are far more common that many people realize and appealing for a number of reasons. In fact, the incidences of marrying for companionship rather than love have been on the rise over the recent years. Don’t misunderstand, a marriage for companionship isn’t the same thing as a loveless marriage – it’s just a different kind of love.

What is a Companionship Marriage?

Companionship refers to the state of being friends, but it’s deeper than just the buddy you meet for a beer or a movie. Real companionship is a deep connection between two people that means they are compatible on a level that goes beyond just enjoying each other’s company on occasion.

Two people with that kind of relationship may not feel the traditional, romantic, love for each other. But they may recognize that sharing their lives together and partnering in order to support each other, perhaps form a family, and grow old together is a welcome idea. As humans we prefer not to be alone. And having a partner whose ideas and plans are in line with yours, someone who is kind to you, and someone that you truly enjoy can be far more important to some than pursuing the romantic “one.”

Some would argue that the traditional marriage based on romantic love eventually – if you’re lucky – turns into a companionship marriage. The fire and passion at the beginning of a relationship often fades or mellows over the years and a companionship is what keeps a couple together and happy. Although it’s important to recognize that a marriage for the purpose of companionship is not the same thing as having companionship in a traditional marriage.

Differences Between Traditional and Companionship Marriages

The biggest difference between a traditional and companionship marriage is the understanding that you have about your relationship going in and the goal of the partnership. Going into a companionship marriage you will likely recognize the partnership as a deep friendship, and have made plans together for the sharing of life’s responsibilities. Often those in a companionship marriage share a social network and mutual career objectives. The desire to have a family can also be a motivating factor, especially as people age and are seeing the window for starting a family closing.

In a relationship that is based on a romantic love connection there are generally strong passionate and sexual components. And although the same premise for planning and partnership should be part of this union, in a marriage where love is the driving factor many feel like love is all they need and the rest will fall into place. Love conquers all, right? Well, no – not always.

As a relationship grows and changes over time and the ups and downs of life occur, feelings of love can change. Some may even fall out of love. This doesn’t mean a relationship is over, but it can put a lot of stress on a couple who feel like being in love means they don’t have to do any additional work.

When you lay things out on paper the differences between the two marriage types can seem minimal. There’s really only the one pesky thing – love – that’s different. But that one thing can be the emotional equivalent of the extra zero that separates 1 million from 1 billion. In other words - pretty significant.

Considerations Before Committing to a Purely Companionship Marriage

Although companionship can run deep between people and create a lasting bond, two people in a companionship marriage are likely to have work harder than normal to make things work long-term. It can sound like a fairly desirable set-up at the beginning, but as time goes on there are several pitfalls to watch out for.

  1. We all crave love. Marrying for practical purposes has it benefits, but somewhere down deep we all want to be loved. And even though a deep companionship offers it’s own feelings of love and connection, they aren’t the same as romantic love. So you will need to prepare for contending with the absence of something that most people truly desire.
  2. You could meet the “one.” Just because you’re not 22 doesn’t mean you may not meet the “one” – even if you don’t believe he or she exists. And although traditional marriages can be susceptible to the influences of others and falling out of love, the close relationship with your spouse in a companionship marriage doesn’t have the foundation of romantic love to fall back on and remember. So what happens when you – through no fault of your own – meet someone and actually fall in love?
  3. Sexual desires rarely go away. There are several ways to address this, and it may be that even though you aren’t in love in the traditional sense, you can incorporate sex into your relationship, but this is a subject that will need discussion.
  4. What-ifs can plague you. Many of us had dreams of the perfect woman or prince charming in our youth. When you marry for reasons outside of love you may find yourself having to give up on those dreams or at least modifying them to some degree. As we age we often look back at decisions we’ve made and wondered “what-if” we had made other choices. If you are modifying your plans for your life – and most of us have to at some point – you will need to make sure you don’t suffer with thoughts over “what-ifs” later on.

It takes work to make any relationship work. No matter what your reasons for getting married are you will still need to spend time and effort making it strong and keeping it healthy. Doing this will require good communication, respect, and whatever version of love – that of a friend or romantic – that makes sense for you.