One couple was together for 6 years, and the reason for getting married is because they have already known each other for 6 years and time is running short! The guy in the relationship really hates to receive SMS and calls from his fiancée, often trying to avoid her whenever possible. Breakups have been tried and failed due to pressure from the fiancée’s whole family, he was time and again held hostage emotionally by them.
As for the other couple, they rushed into a marriage less than 1 year of their relationship as they were keen to receive the 40k CPF housing grant by buying a resale HDB. Both are unwilling to go through the marriage now, but the house had been bought, banquet booked, bridal shoots taken and renovation paid. All by installments. There is little they could do but carry on with the mistake. And by the way, they no longer talk anymore, even over dinner.
Needless to say, we can foresee that they might not live happily ever after upon marriage.
Risk: Considering sunk costs
“It will be a waste if we don’t get married after being together for so long” is not a good reason to get married. Even if we were to analyze the issue from finance perspective, knowing each other for years is actually a “sunk cost” which should not be considered when making cost benefit decision. (Sunk costs are costs that cannot be recovered once they have been incurred. However sunk costs greatly affect actors' decisions, because humans are inherently loss aversive and thus normally act irrationally when making economic decisions. )
Actually marriage is a cost benefit decision between 2 persons. We should be choosing the person we love that would provide the biggest benefit and lowest cost to us in FUTURE. In order words, we want to maximize returns and minimize risk. Hence, “sunk costs” like knowing each other for years, already spent a lot of money on him/her, already bought the house etc should never be considered for marriage decision making, if you are a rational person.
We should rather, be concern about opportunity costs. If I forgo this girl (or project) and I invest time and money in another girl (or project), what is the projected benefits (cashflows) from the new selection? Is the net present value or internal rate of return higher? It depends on your expectations (discount rate) though!
Unfortunately, for marriage, the payback period for the investment is often minimum 40 years. Hence, it is a risky investment!
Risk: Non diversifiable risk
The other reason to consider marriage as a high risk activity is because of its non diversifiable nature. I can only choose one spouse and live with it. I cannot marry many (for non muslims) and spread my (their) eggs over few baskets. Hence, it is of paramount importance to choose the correct one! Even if one may argue that you can choose the best wife from many girlfriends (though not ethical), choosing the correct girlfriend may not turn out to be the correct wife, mother (for you children) and daughter-in-law.
Just like business climate, tax policies and consumers’ taste change rapidly; your spouse will also change. The same spouse today may not be the same one 10 years later. You will need to discount and adjust your expectations accordingly, which may be painful and difficult experience.
Risk: Unfavourable historical returns
Look around yourselves. Are there happier married couples or happier singles? What is the percentage of divorce and broken families? Again, from current statistics and “historical perspectives”, most people are better off single, which again points to the risky nature of marriage!
So if you are considering to get married, do think carefully! Do not get married for the wrong reasons!
After all, life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.