Marriage in an Age of Instant Gratification

I was shocked to learn this morning that the average cost of a wedding has gone up 460% since the late 1990’s.  It is also no secret that divorce rates continue to be on the rise.  I began to think about the cost of commitment, versus the cost of instant gratification.

We live in a world that tempts us constantly with ideas that make us question whether our lives measure up to the social ideals.  We are bombarded with images that make most of us feel inadequate in some way.  We are then lured by the perception that if I get this (other partner, car, house, job…the list is endless), I will be happier.

This couldn’t be further from the truth.  Instant gratification is a destructive pattern and is linked to avoidance-related behaviours such as procrastination, anxiety and depression. 


  • Immediate satisfaction or pleasure
  • Focus on the present only (not on the future)
  • Experienced when little or no effort is required to achieve a level of satisfaction
  • Creates a sense of entitlement

Delayed gratification, on the other hand is characterized by the ability to resist the temptation for an immediate reward and wait for a later reward.  This life skill is linked to other positive outcomes such as academic success, physical health, mental health, social competence

As a couple’s therapist, I couldn’t help but think of the ideas of instant and delayed gratification in the context of marriage.  I realize that monogamy in a world that sensationalizes sex requires an ongoing commitment to deny the instant thrill for the delayed gift.  The grass may look greener on the other side.  But, if you pause and really think about it, nothing is as rewarding as cultivating what you have in your own backyard.

I celebrate commitment, patience and hope today.  I believe we require a healthy dose of all three in order to choose our partner, and ultimately our marriage everyday.

Sorry world, your offerings pale in comparison to what I already have.        

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