America needs to catch up in so many ways!
One way in which marriage does matter is Social Security benefits. If you are married, it is far easier to get survivor's benefits if your spouse dies and you have a minor child. It's probably still possible to get benefits for the child if you aren't married, but only a widow/widower can get benefits in order to take care of the child. If you're married, you automatically get those benefits unless you remarry or have your own income until the child is 16. The child's benefits continue through age 18.
That is true even if the parents are divorced or separated at the time of death. Deadbeat dad/mom? No problem. (As long as there's some Social Security record, anyway - I don't know what happens if there isn't one at all.)
My daughter's father died when she was 9, after a 2.5 year struggle with leukemia. He and I had been divorced for about 7 years when he died. The executor of his will was incredibly hostile to me, taking all of my daughter's things (even her piggy bank) as "part of the estate" and refusing to even cooperate with me so that I could find out about COBRA health insurance coverage for my daughter (another area that is 100% screwed up in this country).
But because we HAD been married, one trip to the Social Security office was all it took to get survivor's benefits going. So I do recommend it for anyone who has children together in the U.S.
Common law marriage still exists in a few American states, though it's largely a thing of the past:
Marriage is not about the relationship between a man and a woman. It is about their relationship to their society. Long, long ago relationships survived without marriage. Almost all primitive societies have no documents, laws or other signs to show a relationship. People make agreements and live by them. Modern marriage has little to do with the original concept of creating a relationship with another human. It's now about rights, property, status and other non-relationship concepts. I have been married to a JW for 40 years. It has never been easy. Marriage has made many decisions very difficult to make or even consider.
It's now about rights, property, status and other non-relationship concepts
Rights and property play heavily into "relationship concepts". That society is more sophisticated and agreements are more formalized doesn't change basic concepts about social relationships. Whether long ago or now, these agreements advertise much to society as well as convey expectations within the relationship.
It’a a way of making a commitment. Been married 29 years myself, but I don’t think it’s necessary for everyone. Whatever works!
My wife and I got married but not as a religious act. One, we did it as a commitment to eachother, and two, because the tax breaks are too good to pass up. -_^