In the spirit of asking what am I trying to accomplish and what alternatives are there, I'm pretty sure that by the modern definition of the word, there is never a reason for anyone to get married.
So to break it down, why does anyone want to get married? The great, big, obvious reason is that a man and a woman what to commit to each other for the rest of their lives. They want to have exclusive mutual access to the other person for sex and romance, and want to spend tons of time together. They want to live in the same home and put down roots. They want to have children. And when one of them dies they want the inheritance to go to the other. They want to face the rest of the world as a single unit. They want a commitment that will be stronger than any future disagreements that wouldn't get worked out otherwise. And to some degree there are probably religious reasons for most of us about wanting to have sex in an institution that is sanctioned by God.
Personally I think that these are all laudable goals. Even the last one. But, do you really need a certificate from the government to do that? As a Christian I find the very idea offensive. 1 Corinthians 6:1-11:
“Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints?Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?
Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?
If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church.
I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren?
But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers.
Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded?
Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren.
Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,
Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.”
Paul makes it clear that when dealing with other Christians we should handle matters within the church. So how much more so when dealing with a matter as intimate as marriage should Christians not even begin to involve the secular government, especially as in the case of divorce, we are commanded to not handle it in court? Further more, as far as the Bible is concerned, marriage has never been a government institution, not even under the theocracy that preceded the kings of Israel.
But what about non Christians? Atheists get married as well as Christians, so as they have no obligation to the church shouldn't they get married normally? For my readers I hardly think I need to go over the problems in family court law. So, although you do still want some parts of the government mcmarrage, such as inheritance being set to default to your spouse, or the right to make bed side visits in the hospital, you don't want all of what you get, and you certainly don't want to go through the rest of your life with some woman having the ultimate power to end things and collect cash prizes.
As has come out with the whole gay marriage arguments, all the practical benefits of marriage can be achieved through other means for any two people living together. And if, beyond that, you want to make some sort of commitment that will stand the test of time, and make the two of you exclusive, you can do way better job with just a private contract then you can with a government recognized marriage. Make a contract that comes with defined, harsh penalties for either cheating or leaving. Will it stand up in court? Maybe not. You may get slapped with a common law marriage and all the obligations that come with it. But it may work as well, and as such is still a much better option than marriage.