The Real Meaning of Marriage

Do you know what the word means?

Welcome to The First Years of Marriage Newsletter! We talk about the conversations, challenges, and changes that begin once the honeymoon ends. Advice from experts, mistakes from me (Jen Glantz), and things you’re going to want to know as you continue to ask yourself this question - “I’m married, so now what?”

Two big things for you:

#1: I am creating a FIRST YEARS OF MARRIAGE card game. It’s a fun way to chat about the conversations, challenges, and next steps in your life with the person you said I DO to! Some of the cards in the game were even submitted by readers of this darling newsletter.

I created a kickstarter for the project and it would mean a lot if you took a look and even pre-ordered your deck. You’ll get some awesome perks if you do that!

#2: I am giving away….A CRUISE! Yes, you read that correctly. Enter here and share! share! share! to up your chances of winning.

What does marriage actually mean?

I am running around these days trying to understand the purpose of marriage.

Tying the knot feels like something some people are so eager to do. But then after they do it, they feel this odd sense of confusion over…. a lot of things.

What is marriage? Why does it matter? What actually does marriage mean?

Sure, these are questions that you should probably ask, research, and look into before you walk down the aisle, but some of us (including myself) don’t think twice about any of those questions. We’re just happy that we found someone who makes our hearts twirl and are too busy trying to plan an extraordinary celebration called a wedding.

I’ve been married for 6-months and I’ve spent most of that time finding answers to questions I didn’t know to ask before: like why do people get married and how marriage alters your brain and body.

But today, let’s keep things simple. Let’s talk about what the heck the word marriage actually means and why it might matter.

Ps. know someone who is engaged or getting married soon? Send them this good stuff, will you?


Definition: the state of being united as spouses in a consensual and contractual relationship recognized by law.

It’s important to note that marriage is defined differently based on cultural, religious, and even personal factors. Here are some common definitions.

Marriage is defined differently, and by different entities, based on cultural, religious, and personal factors. 

The most common definition of marriage is that it is a formal union and social and legal contract between two individuals that unites their lives legally, economically, and emotionally.

Wait a sec. What does that legal contract part mean?

Well, it implies that the couple has legal obligations to each other throughout their lives or until they get divorced.

Your Marital Rights

Marital rights can vary from state to state, however, most states recognize the following spousal rights:

  • ability to open joint bank accounts

  • ability to file joint federal and state tax returns

  • right to receive “marriage” or “family rate” on health, car and/or liability insurance

  • right to inherit spouse’s property upon death

  • right to sue for spouse’s wrongful death or loss of consortium, and

  • right to receive spouse’s Social Security, pension, worker’s compensation, or disability benefits.

Your Marital Responsibilities

When you get married, you're vowing to treat your spouse with respect. In many states, if one person engages in marital misconduct (abandonment, abuse, adultery), that can be grounds for a fault-based divorce and may even affect alimony and property division.

Married couples also have a fiduciary duty to one another. You can’t lie to about finances, a criminal past, or their current marriage to another spouse to induce you into marrying them.You can't hide funds, waste marital assets or send marital income offshore or to another person without your spouse's consent.

Spouses also owe each other the duty to keep confidential communications private. Read more from lawyers here.


What are the benefits of being married?

If you asked me to name the benefits of being married, before writing this newsletter, I’d let out an elongated ummmmm and then say taxes? Turns out, there are a lot of interesting benefits and some of those things were things I did not realize.

You can read the full list right here. Ps. Thank you for this awesome list!

Tax Benefits

  • Filing joint income tax returns

  • Creating a "family partnership" under federal tax laws, which allows you to divide business income among family members.

Estate Planning Benefits

  • Inheriting a share of your spouse's estate.

  • Receiving an exemption from both estate taxes and gift taxes for all property you give or leave to your spouse.

  • Creating life estate trusts that are restricted to married couples.

  • Obtaining priority if your spouse needs a conservator--that is, someone to make financial or medical decisions on your spouse's behalf.

Government Benefits

Employment Benefits

  • Obtaining insurance benefits through a spouse's employer.

  • Taking family leave to care for your spouse during an illness.

  • Receiving wages, workers' compensation, and retirement plan benefits for a deceased spouse.

  • Taking bereavement leave if your spouse or one of your spouse's close relatives dies.

Medical Benefits

  • Visiting your spouse in a hospital intensive care unit or during restricted visiting hours in other parts of a medical facility.

  • Making medical decisions if your spouse becomes incapacitated and unable to express wishes for treatment.

Death Benefits

  • Consenting to after-death examinations and procedures.

  • Making burial or other final arrangements.

Family Benefits

  • Filing for stepparent or joint adoption.

  • Applying for joint foster care rights.

  • Receiving a share of marital property if you divorce.

  • Receiving spousal or child support, child custody, and visitation if you divorce.

Consumer Benefits

  • Receiving family rates for health, homeowners', auto, and other types of insurance.

  • Receiving tuition discounts and permission to use school facilities.

  • Other consumer discounts and incentives offered only to married couples or families.

Other Legal Benefits and Protections

  • Suing a third person for wrongful death of your spouse and loss of consortium (loss of intimacy).

  • Suing a third person for offenses that interfere with the success of your marriage, such as alienation of affection and criminal conversation (these laws are available in only a few states).

  • Claiming the marital communications privilege, which means a court can't force you to disclose the contents of confidential communications made between you and your spouse during your marriage.

  • Receiving crime victims' recovery benefits if your spouse is the victim of a crime.

  • Obtaining immigration and residency benefits for noncitizen spouse.

  • Visiting rights in jails and other places where visitors are restricted to immediate family.

This is a lot of stuff to soak in and understand.

I didn’t know more than 75% of this. Did you?

Did you know these marriage benefits?

Back next week with a new newsletter. Have a topic you want me to explore? Hit reply. Let’s chat about it !

Love you (for as long as we both shall live),

Jen Glantz

Jen Glantz is a whimsical entrepreneur, 3x author, podcast host, and all-around pizza-obsessed goofball.

Here's what she is currently working on:


You're Not Getting Any Younger Podcast

Bridesmaid for Hire

Odd Jobs Newsletter

The First Years of Marriage Newsletter

The Monday Pick-Me-Up Newsletter

Jen & Juice Business & Life Coaching

Company Workshops

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