Why Marriage?

Have often wondered if Marriage is the be-all and end-all of a person's life.

I know of a lady whose boyfriend recently asked her to marry him. She was ecstatic. I was obviously happy for her, but puzzled too. Puzzled, because the couple has been living together for 5 years now. So I am left wondering what's changing in that relationship. You continue to live in the same house; behave in the same way; live life the same way; love & fight the same way...

Then what changes does marriage bring in a situation like this? Why is it that we desire marriage so much ? Is marriage an acknowledgment of the relationship or is it the formalization? Is it a way to legitimize ? Is it that we're so conditioned by society where marriage is seen as a parameter for success in personal life? Is it that we subconsciously are thumbing upto society & saying - there! see I'm married too, so get off my case now!

What do I get out my marriage? Companionship & love; an exclusive right on the guy :), a legitimacy for the sex :) and of course buying legitimacy for the children. Is everyone seeking that?

I don't know! And I honestly don't know whether I'd have been equally happy with my relationship had I not been married. I know its a moot point; but I can't stop thinking about it...In my 20s, even at my most confident, I was less confident than I am now; more worried about people's reactions, more amenable to "adjusting" with society. Now as I inch on towards 40; I see a more "I don't care" attitude in myself. At this lifestage, I probably wouldn't worry too much with a live-in relationship; but one never knows.