Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Getting Personal: “I Don’t Need a Marriage to Feel Committed”

The following essay is from guest contributor Melissa Amen, who blogs at “Twisted Words.”

I get two emails from my grandmother every year – one in July for my birthday and one in December for Christmas. I don’t even have to read them anymore because it’s been the same thing for the last four years: “Happy Birthday!/Merry Christmas! Are you and John engaged yet?” Actually, this year on my birthday she mixed it up a bit and posed a question I couldn’t simply respond ‘no’ to: “Are there any plans (wedding!) for the future?”

I’ve been with my boyfriend for five years and although we have many plans for the future, like a house and kids and possibly a few chickens, we have no plans to get married. We want all the things an engaged couple typically talks about — well, maybe the chickens aren’t typical — but we are not “engaged” in the down-on-one-knee, diamond-ring kind of way. And we’re more than likely not going to have a wedding or even elope by going to the courthouse.

If you asked either one of us, we could probably give you quite a few reasons why we decided marriage isn’t right for us, most of which we rarely talk about to others so as not to offend anyone. How do you tell a very devout Catholic that the sacrament of marriage means nothing to you? Or, why would you try to explain that you don’t care about taking your husband’s name (which I can actually do without a wedding, anyway)? I don’t want to dismiss the beliefs of others and I try to respect the way other people feel — even if it’s a direct opposition to what I want for my life — and I wish people who are still holding out for a wedding would respect that my relationship is just a little different.

After years of trying to get my grandmother (and other family members) to understand why I’m not married while considering their traditional feelings on the matter, I still haven’t found a way to get through to them. I’ve talked about how great my life is, and yet, without a sparkling diamond on my finger, they aren’t satisfied with my relationship. In response to my grandmother’s last email, I gave her a summary of our recent trip to Yosemite and ignored the question about the future.

But I have recently developed a new tactic for the next round of questions regarding my relationship. Everyone’s getting a link to the commercial for Citi that features a woman buying new rock-climbing gear with her credit card. In it she says “We talked about getting a diamond…but with all the thank you points I’ve been earning, I flew us to the rock I really had in mind.” I don’t know if they’ll get the message, but it’s worth a shot.

Although I’m only a beginner, John’s been rock climbing for years now, so the commercial caught our eye. We also love to hike and explore the world through outdoor adventures. I’m much more interested in spending two month’s salary on a trip to Spain to hike and rock climb than on a diamond. Besides, I wear a Claddah ring that I got on a trip to Ireland instead. And while other women are picking out wedding dresses and center pieces, I’m Googling the Pacific Crest Trail and looking for deals on convertible pants and rain jackets with armpit vents.

This doesn’t mean that my relationship is any less special than other people’s. To some, the rings symbolize forever. I choose, instead, to trust my boyfriend with my life every time I get on a rock. I have to trust that he’s got a good hold on the other end of the rope and that he’ll catch me if I fall. He has to have the confidence that I’ll bandage his leg and find help when he slips on a rock near a waterfall. To me, that kind of commitment is much more empowering. We don’t need to get married because the commitment is already there. We don’t need a wedding to start our adventure because we’re already on it.

I don’t know if people take my new explanation to heart, but I can’t spend too much energy worrying about it anymore. After all, I’ve got rocks to climb and mountains to summit.

Melissa Amen is originally from St. Louis, Missouri, aka the Gateway to the West, but has lived on the East Coast for the last six years. Melissa’s life explorations have taught her that mountain air is best for her psyche, dancing in the rain is generally underrated, those born under the zodiac sign Cancer have strong emotional ties and love forever, and every problem can be solved as long as chocolate-covered strawberries are included in the process.

212 comments… add one
  • theattack

    theattack September 19, 2012, 2:14 pm

    I definitely respect anyone’s decision not to get married, but I didn’t really see any of those reasons through this piece. Hopefully engaged and married people aren’t totally focused on diamonds and stuff either. That’s not how healthy relationships turn into healthy marriages, so saying that you don’t want to focus on rings isn’t really saying anything about whether or not you want to get married. It’s saying that you have a healthy relationship that isn’t consumed by materialism.

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      ele4phant September 19, 2012, 2:24 pm

      I dunno, I think she did both. Not only is she not into the materialistic trappings that comes with most engagements and weddings (ie the ring and dress), she’s not into the symbolism (ie marriage = lifetime commitment).

      She doesn’t need a ring because she doesn’t a) need it as an thing, and b) she doesn’t need what it for what it’s supposed to signal.

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      • theattack

        theattack September 19, 2012, 2:29 pm

        I guess I just wanted to hear more about the marriage =/= lifetime commitment part. (I don’t know how to do a not-equal-to sign. haha) It weakened her whole point to me that she equated the materialism with marriage so heavily and didn’t focus on how she’s not interested in what marriage actually is. There are so many arguments against getting married that it seems like she could have focused on some of them more.

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      • katie

        katie September 19, 2012, 2:35 pm

        in that respect, i think she just used the diamond to prepresent marriage, and also to play into her rock climbing hobby… i dont think it was meant as a huge metaphor or anything

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      • theattack

        theattack September 19, 2012, 2:49 pm

        Fair enough, but my point still stands that she didn’t really give us any actual reasons why she doesn’t want to get married. I’m saying that more as a statement to the writing and not that I somehow care that she doesn’t want to. I was just hoping to see some reasons, but all I saw was an article about how she didn’t want a ring, which is partially meant as a symbol that she didn’t want marriage and was partially meant to say that she’s not materialistic enough to want marriage. There are just so many legitimate reasons to not want to get married, and none of them were articulated.

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        ele4phant September 19, 2012, 2:51 pm

        I agree. I think people are getting to wrapped up in “She doesn’t want a ring and looks down on people who do! Judgemental!” when I think really, she was trying to make a cutesy metaphor for what she and her boyfriend are into.

        I don’t think its a personal swipe at others.

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    • katie

      katie September 19, 2012, 2:25 pm

      i think you would be surprised how many women do just care about the ring and the wedding though… i mean, they are out there.

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      • theattack

        theattack September 19, 2012, 2:33 pm

        Haha, I knowww it’s so sad. There’s one girl I know on facebook who got married last year, and I followed her whole drama about how big and wonderful her ring was (no mention of her fiance), and now that she’s married it’s all about how he makes trails of cheesy rose petals through their house leading up to their bed on her birthday, and how he gives he like three days worth of really expensive presents (ie: Kitchenaid, jewelry, designer shoes). It’s just sad to watch.

        But I’m engaged, and I love that commercial she’s referring to because I care much more about doing awesome things with my fiance than the ring I’m wearing (which btw, I told him genuinely that I didn’t need way before he proposed). I hate the idea that being engaged or wanting to get married means you must be focused on that stuff. What happened to genuinely wanting to marry someone?

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        GatorGirl September 19, 2012, 2:36 pm

        You know, maybe that is their way of expressing their love for each other? The rose petals and huge presents. It’s not the way we might prefer to show love, but maybe that’s the way they prefer to show love?

        I agree all the talk about the ring and not the marraige is stupid- but sometime people love in different ways.

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      • theattack

        theattack September 19, 2012, 2:43 pm

        Oh I agree totally. I’m jsut saying that it’s sad because she posts stuff about all the presents she gets but never about him. It’s like “I’m excited about this Kitchenaid!” Not like “My awesome husband gave me this Kitchenaid for my birthday! I’m such a lucky woman!” It’s hard to describe it, but just trust me when I say that she seems to completely leave him out of the picture in almost every way, and it seems really sad.

        Btw, did you ever take the love languages quiz Kristen and I were talking about?

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      • avatar

        GatorGirl September 19, 2012, 2:46 pm

        I totally get it that some people are way more consumed with materials then their relationship. Just giving this chick an easy time because I’m in a good mood today. Also I love a good present. Doesn’t mean I love my fiance any less but birthdays are a serious deal in our house.

        I haven’t done the quiz…I need too. Football season is consuming my life.

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      • katie

        katie September 19, 2012, 2:37 pm

        i agree… people need to focus on the marriage, not the wedding. because especially a diamond ring/wedding does not a marriage make.

        and, as a society, there needs to be a shift as well.. i mean think of all the wedding/engagement ring stuff you see day to day (and its a lot)- no mention of healthy marriages. none. no mention of how to work on issues in a marriage, no mention of commitment, no mention of any of the things that marriage really does entail. its just dresses and rings and big dining halls.

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        CSP September 19, 2012, 3:49 pm

        I don’t know if it is the “ring” or the “wedding” but what those things symbolize in the world.

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      Riefer September 19, 2012, 2:26 pm

      Totally agree with this. I’m married and I don’t have a diamond, because I don’t want to be part of the whole diamond cartel, blood money thing. Plus, I do think it’s a huge waste of money. But it’s not a reason not to get married. This essay kind of makes married people look bad.

      Personally, I wouldn’t care about getting married at all, except that it does make it easier in terms of finances (like buying a house together or sharing investments), and it also gives you legal advantages like becoming the next of kin, so that you can visit each other in the hospital, make health decisions if the other is unable to, etc. And if one of you happens to die young, the other will automatically inherit the marital assets, like the house. You don’t have to go through as many legal hoops.

      Actually, after saying all that, I don’t understand why people are against marriage. If you’re committed, you might as well go ahead and get the legal benefits. Just go to City Hall or whatever, doesn’t have to be fancy. But I guess to each their own.

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      • Fabelle

        Fabelle September 19, 2012, 2:40 pm

        Totally agree with you, especially the 2nd paragraph. Marriage is more than diamonds & archaic symbolism…there are legal, societal, and financial benefits. I’m not religious, have no desire to have my S/O’s last name, & the thought of a huge wedding practically gives me a panic attack. We’re still discussing marriage for the future, & like you said, I don’t understand why city hall/no name change is still out of the question for this writer. (No judgment, but I just don’t get it)

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      • LK7889

        LK7889 September 19, 2012, 3:42 pm

        I agree totally with the 2nd paragraph too. My SO and I are going to get married and the only reason I want to is for those reasons. Like Fab, I don’t want his last name, I don’t associate marriage with my spiritual views. I just want the legalities of things to be easier if anything were to happen. I really don’t want to plan a wedding but he’s pretty insistant that we should have one so it’s going to be a backyard BBQ/cookout deal. And no diamond either, for the same reason a Riefer.

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      • Budj

        Budj September 19, 2012, 2:57 pm

        lol – this is what I think about too. And then non-married people would be like, but then you have to go through the hassle of divorce!……oh wait….

        I don’t care either way. I’d like to be married some day – but I’m in no hurry and can understand if people don’t want to be. It in and of itself (obviously by the divorce rate) is not a symbol of “forever.” But I think pitting both lifestyles against each other will usually end badly in a discussion of justification.

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        tbrucemom September 20, 2012, 9:59 am

        I agree. I think people confuse wedding with marriage. If you’re in a committed relationship and are considering having children I don’t understand why you don’t want to make it legal. There is no bigger commitment than having children

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        Mechie September 20, 2012, 10:37 pm

        Really, really well put Riefer and Fabelle!

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      GatorGirl September 19, 2012, 2:30 pm

      I’m totally with you. The whole tone was condecending towards people who have decided to get married.

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        6napkinburger September 19, 2012, 2:38 pm

        Respectfully disagree.

        Maybe it’s because you’re planning your wedding and are currently dealing with all the nuanced, somewhat materialistic details (flowers and centerpieces, etc) of the wedding that this seems condecending, but I really really really did not get any condescension. If anything, I thought it was a little egg-shell walking, so as not to offended anyone.

        And I’m a want-to-be-married (eventually), want a diamond, want a wedding, kind of girl.

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        GatorGirl September 19, 2012, 2:52 pm

        I actually am not dealing with that stuff yet. We’re planning our ceremony at the moment, what vows are important to us, what readings, what we want our marraige certificate to look like.

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        6napkinburger September 19, 2012, 2:54 pm

        Ok cool.

        I just meant because you are focused on your wedding (and of course your marriage) that it may be hitting a little close to home as judgy, whereas to someone who is not in the middle of all that, it didn’t come off as judgy at all.

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      • iwannatalktosampson

        Iwannatalktosampson September 19, 2012, 3:29 pm

        I agree. Married people love getting offended by other people’s choices not to get married. Like other people’s relationships are somehow about them. I got that the author was walking on egg shells so as not to offend too. Married people are so boring.

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        GatorGirl September 19, 2012, 3:54 pm

        I’m not offended by her choice not to get married, rather how, to me, she presented her choice to be better or more valid than my choice to get married.

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      • becboo84

        BecBoo84 September 19, 2012, 3:59 pm

        I’m thinking the comment above was at least in part in jest, since as far as I can tell, the married/engaged folks on here haven’t made any comments about being offended by others’ choices not to get married.

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      • iwannatalktosampson

        Iwannatalktosampson September 19, 2012, 3:59 pm

        Well it probably is the right choice for her. Just like your choice to get married is better for you. Her not getting married is in no way about you.

        It’s kinda funny – I saw the title of this article was immediately thought to myself, “Oh I can’t wait – all the married people are going to get their panties in a wad about this!” And then….

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      • katie

        katie September 19, 2012, 4:06 pm

        its just like having kids- parents have to have their choice validated by others having kids, and so if you dont want kids, suddenly you are offending parents.

        i dont get it.

        other peoples choices are not about you. they just arent.

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      • iwannatalktosampson

        Iwannatalktosampson September 19, 2012, 4:12 pm

        Well in my case my decision not to have kids really is about my MIL. I’m not risking her side of the families genes fucking up my offspring. The wild card of adoption is much safer. Amiright?!?!

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      • theattack

        theattack September 19, 2012, 4:03 pm

        I really dont’ care whether or not she decides to get married. In fact I love when people decide not to get married, because I think it’s a better option for a lot of people. I just thought her language was careless, and her argument was weak. When I’m reading an entire article about not wanting to get married, I kind of expect to hear an actual reason about not wanting to get married, not just rambling about how she doesn’t want a ring. Marriage isn’t about rings, so I wanted to hear her talk about an actual reason relating to marriage. If she doesn’t want to get married, surely she has at least one inkling why she wants to stay in a committed but unmarried relationship, or why she doesn’t want to get married. Surely she didn’t just check that box arbitrarily because it was the one closest to her pencil.

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      • katie

        katie September 19, 2012, 4:10 pm

        ” have to trust that he’s got a good hold on the other end of the rope and that he’ll catch me if I fall. He has to have the confidence that I’ll bandage his leg and find help when he slips on a rock near a waterfall. To me, that kind of commitment is much more empowering. We don’t need to get married because the commitment is already there”

        she feels like she can trust him with her life, and for that reason a marriage isnt needed. how is that not good enough of a reason? and by who’s standards?

        it seems like there is a lot of judging going on- as if her own choices arent valid enough by other peoples standards. they are her choices about something personal like marriage. whatever she feels is valid. she doent need a bulleted, researched article.

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      • theattack

        theattack September 19, 2012, 4:16 pm

        I will say this again: I DON’T CARE if she gets married or not!! I don’t understand why you think I’m judging her for her decision. She doesn’t need bullet points and research to make her decision, no. But to write a whole article about it? I just think anyone writing about something should probably have some substance in what they’re saying. She doesn’t have to have a single reason not to want to in real life. If she doesn’t want to, she doesn’t want to. That’s that.

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      • katie

        katie September 19, 2012, 4:24 pm

        wendy asked for submissions, and she got one! she probably thought, hey i love rock climbing and i love my boyfriend. ill write a thing about them.

        if you really dont care, why all the posts about how she is so offensive and that she doesnt have “good enough” reasons to be doing what she is doing?

        i dont get it. im not following you

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      • theattack

        theattack September 19, 2012, 4:33 pm

        I actually never said she was offensive, and I never said that she doesn’t have good enough reasons to be doing what she’s doing.

        I do think she carelessly made some negative implications about why people choose to get married, but I don’t think that was on purpose. I think it was mostly because her argument was carelessly constructed.

        And I have said in several comments that I absolutely support her decision to not get married, so you’re putting words in my mouth there. I’m saying that if she’s going to write about it, maybe she should be able to articulate her reasons better. I think she has some inside of herself or else she wouldn’t have arrived at her decision.

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      • iwannatalktosampson

        Iwannatalktosampson September 19, 2012, 4:40 pm

        Why does she have to articulate her reasons why marriage isn’t for her? Why can’t she just say that she’s happy to be on this adventure that she’s on and it does not involve marriage? You seem really judgmental like until she thoroughly explains herself it’s not going to be good enough for you. Wendy asked for submissions – so there’s a good chance she is not a professional writer – I think you’re being really hard on her over persnickety details.

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      • katie

        katie September 19, 2012, 4:47 pm

        “When I’m reading an entire article about not wanting to get married, I kind of expect to hear an actual reason about not wanting to get married” –so her reason is not an “actual” one?

        some quoted the essay- “To me, that kind of commitment is much more empowering. We don’t need to get married because the commitment is already there. We don’t need a wedding to start our adventure because we’re already on it.” and you said “yuck”

        “she failed to give us specific reasons why she didn’t want to get married.” –again, why are her reasons not “specific” enough for you?

        “corollary to that statement is that people who do want to get married are materialistic and don’t do fun, interesting things” –how do you get to here?

        “I don’t appreciate someone assuming that because I’m engaged I’m more excited about my engagement ring or my wedding dress than the huge official commitment I’m making to my future husband.” –and how did you get here?

        again, im just not following you

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      • theattack

        theattack September 19, 2012, 4:52 pm

        @Iwanna, I actually didn’t realize until a few minutes ago that this was a submission from a random person. I just assumed it was linked from another site and that it was a professional writer. So yes, I was being picky about it because I thought it was a bit under-written for a professional.

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      • theattack

        theattack September 19, 2012, 4:59 pm

        @Katie,

        “so her reason is not an actual one?”
        The point is that I didn’t hear her give a reason why she didn’t want to.

        – I was saying yuck that she thinks her commitment is more empowering than the commitment other people make, but you’re right, I read too much into that.

        – Again, I didn’t see her reason. I’ll support any reason for not getting married, but at the end of the article, I was still waiting to hear what hers was. She even specifically said that she had a lot of reasons, so I was really hoping to hear them.

        -I’m not going to explain the corollary thing because I think I explained it perfectly well wherever I said that.

        – I got there because that’s the only thing she ever mentioned about why people do get married. Again, when you’re trying to construct a professionally written argument (which, as I just said, I didn’t realize this wasn’t a professional writer so I’ve been really harsh on her), you acknowledge the aspects of other decisions and respond with your own decision. Since she didn’t say any other reason why someone would get married other than rings and stuff, it sounded like she was accusing people of that. Knowing that she’s not a professional writer, I don’t think this was on purpose.

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        iseeshiny September 19, 2012, 3:55 pm

        Yeah, I’m with 6napkin, this didn’t feel at all judgy of the people who do get married. I think it was even gentle to the feelings of nosy relatives who won’t quit asking the same question over and over again, which is a lot nicer than I’d be. If my grandma pulled that sort of stupid crap on me twice a year I’d be rude as all get out.

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    • LK7889

      LK7889 September 19, 2012, 3:55 pm

      I didn’t really see the reasons for not getting married either. As for the comments about it being disrespectful towards married people, I didn’t get that out of the piece. I got that the author doesn’t want to get married. I’m still not sure why she doesn’t want to get married but I didn’t see that as disrespectful.

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      iseeshiny September 19, 2012, 4:00 pm

      I don’t know, I think it’s a little silly that we are expecting her to give reasons as to why she doesn’t want to get married. Why does anyone need any reasons beyond “I don’t want to?”

      Don’t get me wrong, I am married because there are plenty of good reasons to get married, among them health insurance, but I don’t think anyone should have to justify such a personal decision.

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      • LK7889

        LK7889 September 19, 2012, 4:30 pm

        I don’t really feel like people need a reason to not want to get married. But saying “I just don’t want to” makes for poor writing. It’s not engaging and after I read the piece, I just felt like I didn’t understand the point of her even taking the time to write this. “Ok, she doesn’t want to get married.” Why should I, as a reader, want to read that some stranger just “doesn’t want” to do something?

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        iseeshiny September 19, 2012, 4:42 pm

        I feel like it wasn’t an essay on “This is Why I Don’t Want To Get Married” so much as a vignette on “This is What I’m Telling My Family Without Pissing Them Off Too Much (Also I Like Rock Climbing)” – we could argue all day about whether it’s good writing or not but hey, I enjoyed it and there’s some good discussion going on. It makes me think of the Childfree essay, less about why the author isn’t going to have children and more about the judgement she’s gotten for that choice.

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        temperance September 19, 2012, 8:44 pm

        I think the issue is the last personal essay was so intense and amazing (HoneybeeNicki’s piece on her life as the wife of a man in prison), that this was just like … meh.

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      • JK

        JK September 19, 2012, 9:01 pm

        Exactly! I think the title was really misleading, I expected something totally different.

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      mf September 19, 2012, 4:03 pm

      Agreed. I get her point on the material trappings of engagement/wedding planning. But that doesn’t really explain why she doesn’t want to get married. Engagement rings and marriage are not one and the same. There’s plenty of people who get married without a ring.

      I was hoping she’d say something a little more interesting about why marriage isn’t for her, but this essay didn’t quite go there.

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    CSP September 19, 2012, 2:22 pm

    I like the writer’s take and overall writing. Ultimately, it is her life and she can do whatever she wants. I think her family and isn’t looking at the ring or the legitamacy of a marriage but rather the protection it provides. I think that this plan holds up until kids can start asking questions.

    Use Brad pitt and Angelina Jolie. They didn’t marry but they are “engaged” after what 15 kids? Why? Because the kids started asking questions. You say, “We choose to be together and are not bound by a piece of paper.” then a kid says, “so you can choose to leave at any time?” Talk about childhood anxiety.

    Also, I believe if women are going to choose this path, they better be sure they protect themselves financially. I have 3 girlfriends who were in long term relationships. A guy bought a house and she decorated, bought groceries, split the mortgage and utilities. Then he leaves her. And he had essentially a rent paying tenent that he got to sleep with. The girl sits there with a little savings and looses the entire “investment” in the home. Also, if you choose to stay at home with a child without a “ring” this gets much worse. Because you will get child support but no alimony. No rights to any retirement. While you are at home raising the kids, you are not paying into Social Security. You can’t even get a Roth IRA as a SAHM.

    I think every mother and grandmother out there worries about this for thier daughters. It isn’t virtue they are worried about or a big party. It is thier daughters being abandoned without a leg to stand on.

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    • katie

      katie September 19, 2012, 2:31 pm

      i dont think that being married necessarily just protects you from all those things, though. alimony isnt for life all the time. alimony also isnt enough to pay the bills, depending on what you get/ how good your ex-husbands lawyer is… ect. women are always the ones screwed that type of arrangement (stay at home mom who gets divorced) in the long term. a marriage might get you some money in the short term, but you wont be taken care of for life unless you are with someone very wealthy and you get a lump sum or something.. again, it depends a lot on how good the lawyers are.

      just saying that a marriage will somehow “protect” women from getting screwed isnt true.

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        rangerchic September 19, 2012, 2:38 pm

        Well my aunt married a guy who is paying his ex-wife alimony in the amount of $2000/month. Um…that’s almost as much as I bring home from my job. But this was when his business was doing really well. Then the economy crashed. He recently was jailed because he just didn’t have the money. His business just doesn’t earn what it used to and he keeps trying to get it reduced but she keeps fighting him (she also has a job and all the kids are grown and out of the house so it is not like she is hurting for money).

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      • katie

        katie September 19, 2012, 2:46 pm

        cue jim carrey saying “i’d have gotten her $4000!!”

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        CSP September 19, 2012, 3:35 pm

        Her financial situation has nothing to do with the division of assets. It is as long as he has more. And if she is getting that kind of alimoney settlement, it is because he wanted to keep full ownership of his company. If she helped build that company, she has the rights to it or get bought out. Sounds like she got bought out.

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        Riefer September 19, 2012, 2:41 pm

        It’s true that being married doesn’t mean you’re taken care of for life. Nor should it. But if you sacrificed your career during your marriage in order to take care of your home and children, so that your husband could focus on his career, then you’re entitled to some of those earnings and assets. From what I’ve heard, alimony will last at least a few years, during which you’re supposed to be doing something to help your career. Going back to school, updating your skills, etc. It’s supposed to give the spouse who stayed home the opportunity to get back into the marketplace, since they gave up that opportunity during the marriage.

        Anyway, if you’re not married, good luck getting anything. If you weren’t working outside of the home already, you’re going to have a rough time getting back on your feet afterwards.

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      • katie

        katie September 19, 2012, 2:57 pm

        yea, i agree. its not that i disagree with the idea of alimony or the legalities of marriage, but i dont think its good necessarily to say that women should be married as a safety net. people, everyone, men and women, should make their own safety nets and plans for the worst.

        i mean, imagine that stay at home mom’s husband died. she would be in basically the same spot. sure, she would probably have his insurance, and any assets or whatever he might have had (assuming they are wealthy), but its basically the same situation.

        i think what you are saying is a case of everyone should plan for the worst, have an ace in hole, whatever you wanna call it, and not rely on others to get back on their feet.

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        Riefer September 19, 2012, 3:13 pm

        Actually, I think you *should* be able to rely on your spouse to get back on your feet, if you sacrificed your ability to have a career when you married him (or her, as the case may be). Because that was the marital agreement – you earn money, I’ll take care of the house and kids so that you have more time for your career. You’re both contributing to one career in that case, so you should both benefit from it. And if the marriage ends, the one who wasn’t earning money needs to start earning money now, so it’s only fair that now both of them need to contribute to getting that second career going, so that the non-earner isn’t left in the lurch. If the marriage ends through death of the earner, the two of you should have had insurance policies in place to achieve the same goal, of the non-earner learning a career.

        To me, this makes total sense. If you don’t have the legal protection of marriage, you will be left out in the cold, without a career or any assets from the relationship. I’m not saying that you should get married for security (you should not, that’s not a good reason). I’m saying that if you’re already committed to each other, you may as well take advantage of the legal protections that are provided to you through marriage. I just haven’t seen anyone give a good reason why you shouldn’t get married if you’re committed. Other than, I guess, “I just don’t want to”. Which is fine, and doesn’t bother me, but be aware that you’re taking risks with your financial future if you’re not supporting yourself, or if you let him pay for your home while you pay for non-assets like groceries and gas.

        * When I say “career”, I’m not talking med school or something. Just a decent job that you can support yourself on. I’m using career as shorthand for “whatever you do to earn money”, regardless of whether it’s something that people would normally call a career.

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        CSP September 19, 2012, 3:32 pm

        I feel like most comments about not getting married are in the negative. “Like we don’t want to be bound to each other” or ” we don’t need a big party and a ring to define us”. It is the arguement against marriage not pro comments.

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        CSP September 19, 2012, 3:13 pm

        No, it isn’t alimony alone. It is half the retirement and assets. If your significant other has 100K in retirement and you aren’t married, there is no entitlement to that money. Or if he bought a house and was the only name on the house and you have 20k in equity, you get nothing. It can be a mess.

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      • katie

        katie September 19, 2012, 5:17 pm

        Provided people have assets and retirement…

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        CSP September 20, 2012, 1:58 pm

        true, but as someone in thier 30s, I will tell you that I have seen girls let 10 years slip by and invest thier money in thier boyfriend’s assets. That is what every single girl has to watch out for.

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        CSP September 19, 2012, 3:17 pm

        Hey, I am not saying that you will get your share just because you are married. But if you are not a “wife” you don’t even get a seat at the table.

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        RMM0278 September 19, 2012, 3:55 pm

        Exactly! That’s pretty much what I said below, but you said it better.

        If you’re going to be together for life no matter what, then fine. Getting married won’t change that at all then. I always argue that it’s better to have that cushion and protections than not.

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        *HmC* September 19, 2012, 3:18 pm

        Legal marriage not only provides more protection to more women in the event of a divorce, it makes a separation less likely in the first place. When people point at the huge divorce rates and thus marriage is in no way stability, my simple retort is well, what do you think the rates of separation are for couples that aren’t even married? Much much higher.

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        CSP September 19, 2012, 3:36 pm

        Very true.

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      ele4phant September 19, 2012, 2:32 pm

      I think you make good points, particularly in regards to the impact on children.

      However, to play the devil’s advocate, does marriage really provide anymore security? I think kids look to their parent’s behavior (ie do they love and respect one another?) than this concept of marriage for security. After all, children aren’t really aware of what “marriage” is out of the womb, you know? Its something they’re taught. But they’ll be aware of the condition of their parent’s relationship long before they’re aware of what marriage is.

      And undoubtly, children will see their peer’s married parents split up. So, if the parents demonstrate a loving, solid relationship everyday, and children are aware that marriage doesn’t necessarily mean “I’m in it forever” I don’t think they’ll be subject to anymore insecurity than the child of married parents.

      Essentially, its not what you say, its what you do, that matters. And I think there are unmarried parents who are more stable and create a more secure environment than parents who have a rocky marriage.

      But yes on all the financial issues. I can’t argue against that one.

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        CSP September 19, 2012, 3:27 pm

        Very true. But I was basing my comment on the writer’s premise that a good unmarried couple is the same as a good married couple so I am talking only about good relationships. But i think when a kid sees his friends parents get divorced, you need to explain the whole thing to them. and it is hard to explain complex ideas to kids.

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        ele4phant September 19, 2012, 5:46 pm

        I suppose that’s a valid way to look at it.

        But pragmatically speaking, a child will never live in a world where they will be surrounded by all good relationships. They will have friends who are being parented by parents with a rocky relationship, by divorced parents, or single parents. If their parents have a healthy relationship, they’ll see a difference.

        And I still don’t think that unmarried parents are going to create an insecurity for the kid. Like you said, marriage has to be explained. Its not a natural thing, its something that we as a society have created. Yes, its complex, but if the unmarried parents are the ones to explain it, to explain what marriage is but why its not important for their family, then the kid won’t necessarily jump to “Marriage means forever! My parents aren’t married, that means they aren’t forever!” I mean, why would they think that, if that’s not what they’re taught, and its not the reality they live with? If the relationship is solid, there will be stability for the child.

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      rangerchic September 19, 2012, 2:34 pm

      I agree as well. I also think about medical issues. Being married at least gets you information in case of an emergency. They won’t even tell you anything (they will probably call his parents?) since you aren’t married.

      Even after reading this I still don’t understand why she doesn’t want to get married. I think it is just one more step in the “I’m committed to you” realm. But, to each their own.

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        rangerchic September 19, 2012, 2:35 pm

        This was supposed to be in response to CSP

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        CSP September 19, 2012, 3:29 pm

        right, also, what about major medical decisions? BF is in critical conditions and needs someone to sign medical waivers and his “life partner” has to defer to his parents. no way.

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    GatorGirl September 19, 2012, 2:29 pm

    You know, I do feel like you are being dismissive and not respecting views different from your own. Your comments about “sparkling diamonds” and being more interested in rock climbing then wedding dresses have a pretentious tone- like you’re better than someone who wants to pick out their center pieces. You don’t have to spend “two month’s salary” on an engagement ring and your life doesn’t have to be consumed by wedding planning in order to legally marry. My fiancé and I got engaged with a family ring which cost us no money, I bought my dress from J Crew on clearance, and I do not care what my center pieces look like. This whole piece was very off putting to me. Like my relationship is “less special” because I’m making the choice to have a wedding and change my name.

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      ele4phant September 19, 2012, 2:36 pm

      I think its all in your perception though. I do want to get married someday, but I totally agree with her on the material stuff. I don’t want a ring, or a dress, and if our families let us get away with it, my preference would just to go to city hall one day and get it over with. Essentially, I want the marriage but not the wedding.

      So, for me, any disparaging remarks towards the “wedding” stuff what I already agree with so I’m not offended, but I felt her tone towards “marriage” wasn’t dismissive at all, just different than mine.

      I think at the end of the day, its impossible to express your opinion without making someone who has a different opinion feel judged, even if that isn’t your intent in the slightest.

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        GatorGirl September 19, 2012, 2:40 pm

        I felt like she was saying if you wanted the wedding you couldn’t possibly want the marraige too. And that she was she was “better” for already having the committment with out having the ceremony. I truly think it is awesome for her to have her committed relationship with out the need for a wedding ceremony, but don’t judge me for wanting to have one.

        I feel that she is doing exactly what her family is doing to her (judging her for not wanting the sparkly ring and dress) to people who do want those things.

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        ele4phant September 19, 2012, 2:44 pm

        Well, I guess agree to disagree.

        My perception was not that she was judging people who wanted the wedding AND the marriage, just that she personally wanted neither.

        But then again, I have a somewhat different opinion than you (and her) when it comes to marriage and weddings, so our mileages may vary.

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        temperance September 19, 2012, 8:48 pm

        I got that, too. And you know what, if loving my sparkly, fabulous (non-conflict) diamond makes me a bad person, then I’ll take it. We were together for 7 years first, and we want a party.

        Then again, I don’t feel like I have to have a hipster lentil wedding to prove a point.

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        ele4phant September 19, 2012, 9:10 pm

        As someone doesn’t who also doesn’t understand the appeal of a ring, or a dress, or a wedding, I don’t begrudge anyone who does. And given my reading of the essay, I really don’t think the author does either.

        If having a sparkly ring and a big party is going to make the celebration of your wedding much more joyful and happy, by all means, go for it. I know it wouldn’t have the same effect on me, but your wedding is your wedding. Its not a judgement, just a preference. If I recall, she didn’t call women who wanted sparkly rings bad or materalistic, she was just trying to say that the idea of a ring and a marriage doesn’t do for her what it does for them.

        And it seems to me there’s really no way for the author to express her preference – the one that you don’t happen to share – without being called judgemental.

        I guess she has made a judgement, she’s judged that weddings and marriages are not something she’s interested in, but I also think its clear that this judgement is *specific to her life*, not a generalized belief about all marriages and weddings and the people who want them.

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        Georgia September 20, 2012, 10:21 am

        Some people want diamonds, some people want expensive trips to go rock climbing. Some people want cats and some people want dogs. I don’t think the author is being judgmental. She’s simply stating, to each his/her own. It’s fine if you want all the wedding stuff, but she’s doing it differently.

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      • katie

        katie September 19, 2012, 2:42 pm

        i agree- expressing what you believe is not a personal attack to others who believe differently.

        and, you cant argue about the wedding culture in the US. its disgusting, whether you want to get married or not.

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        GatorGirl September 19, 2012, 2:50 pm

        Weddings in this country are insane. My family actually owns a banquet hall so I totally know how nuts it gets.

        I wasn’t meaning to say she is attacking people who want to have a wedding, more so that she was saying she was more special because she didn’t feel the need to go through a ceremony or have legal documentation of her commitment. “To me, that kind of commitment is much more empowering. We don’t need to get married because the commitment is already there. We don’t need a wedding to start our adventure because we’re already on it.” I read this as saying people who want to have a wedding ceremony aren’t as committed as she is. We can definitely agree to disagree but I just got a bad taste from this whole essay.

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      • theattack

        theattack September 19, 2012, 2:56 pm

        Yes! I totally forgot about that statement. Yuck.

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        6napkinburger September 19, 2012, 3:04 pm

        But how else do you say that?

        Imagine I wrote article on the merits of composting (which I still don’t entirely understand what it is, better yet adopting it as a way of life.) In it I say that composting daily reminds me how important the environment and how selfish it is to throw things away that could be composted. (or something accurate to composting). How it makes me feel like a better person for doing something proactive to help the world everyday.

        The kind of inferences you guys are taking from the above article is the same as taking away from my imaginary article that “People who don’t compost are bad people who don’t help the world, are selfish and don’t value the environment.” But that’s not what I’m saying — I have no earthly idea whether or not you value the envirnoment, do other things that are proactive or are a good person. I can just explain my I make my decisions.But because every choice means that we are choosing not to do the alternative, of course, I am dismissing the choice NOT to compost as being less than the choice to compost. There is no way around it.

        I don’t see how changing her language could change that. And I don’t see anything wrong with it in the first place. Do you see what I mean?

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        6napkinburger September 19, 2012, 3:05 pm

        delete this one please.

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        6napkinburger September 19, 2012, 3:04 pm

        But how else do you say that?

        Imagine I wrote article on the merits of composting (which I still don’t entirely understand what it is, better yet adopting it as a way of life.) In it I say that composting daily reminds me how important the environment and how selfish it is to throw things away that could be composted. (or something accurate to composting). How it makes me feel like a good person for doing something proactive to help the world everyday.

        The kind of inferences you guys are taking from the above article is the same as taking away from my imaginary article that “People who don’t compost are bad people who don’t help the world, are selfish and don’t value the environment.” But that’s not what I’m saying — I have no earthly idea whether or not you value the envirnoment, do other things that are proactive or are a good person. I can just explain my I make my decisions.But because every choice means that we are choosing not to do the alternative, of course, I am dismissing the choice NOT to compost as being less than the choice to compost. There is no way around it.

        I don’t see how changing her language could change that. And I don’t see anything wrong with it in the first place. Do you see what I mean?

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      • theattack

        theattack September 19, 2012, 3:28 pm

        I do see what you mean. I don’t really have a great answer for you, but I think that part of making an effective argument is acknowledging the good (or bad, depending) parts of both sides, and lead from there into why you’ve made the decision that you have.

        For a poorly written example: “One of the major benefits of marriage is a lifetime of adventures together with a society-wide recognition of your relationship. It’s very important to us to continue our adventures together, and we truly want to commit to each other forever. We’ve decided to do this without getting married because official recognition is not something that is important to us personally.”

        It’s acknowledging specific reasons why people would choose to do something (that are not accusatory, like “People want to get married because they get huge ass diamonds”), and then responding with whether or not you want those things. My main problem with her article is that she failed to give us specific reasons why she didn’t want to get married.

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        ele4phant September 19, 2012, 3:35 pm

        I said this below, but what’s a better reason then “Marriage to me doesn’t mean anything”.

        What would be a good reason to you?

        Furthermore, what’s a good reason to *get* married, besides “Marriage means something to me”.

        Perhaps she should have parsed out her feelings about marriage AND weddings (which I find, as someone who wants marriage but not a wedding, are very distinct things), but I am suprised that people feel this is a personal attack on their choices. To me it clear she was talking solely about her choices. Hence the use of words and phrases like “to me” and “personally”.

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      • theattack

        theattack September 19, 2012, 3:42 pm

        Again, I think there are plenty of reasons not to get married. But when you’re writing an entire article about it you should probably be able to articulate some reasons why it doesn’t mean anything to you. Otherwise it’s kind of just a rambling journal entry.

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      • becboo84

        BecBoo84 September 19, 2012, 3:54 pm

        I didn’t get an attacking tone at all from the author, but I do agree that she could have gone into her reasoning more thoroughly, which would have made it a stronger piece.

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        bethany September 19, 2012, 4:02 pm

        Religion doesn’t mean anything to me. I can’t tell you “why”, because it has no meaning to me! You can’t provide reasons, because it literally means nothing to you.

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        ele4phant September 19, 2012, 4:07 pm

        I can’t think of a better reason to not to do something (in this case marriage) than “I don’t see the point.”

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      • LK7889

        LK7889 September 19, 2012, 4:22 pm

        Yeah, I’m with Becca. She doesn’t really explain her position but I don’t feel like she’s attacking anyone either. It’s just a poorly written article, in my opinion. Like theattack says, “a rambling journal entry.”

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      • theattack

        theattack September 19, 2012, 4:29 pm

        I also don’t think she’s attacking anyone. I think her language was careless and because of that she implied some things that people don’t necessarily like. But my main point is that, while she doesn’t need any reasons to not get married, she probably does need some in order to write a good article.

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      • iwannatalktosampson

        Iwannatalktosampson September 19, 2012, 4:32 pm

        But maybe that’s the whole point – why should she have to have a reason not to get married – besides it’s not right for us? When you get engaged people aren’t like “why are you doing this? What are your reasons for getting married? What is your long term plan? Have you thought about the implications of this?”

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      • theattack

        theattack September 19, 2012, 4:38 pm

        haha, I certainly did get those questions when I got engaged from some friends who think marriage ruins women’s lives. But whatever.

        From the article: “If you asked either one of us, we could probably give you quite a few reasons why we decided marriage isn’t right for us, most of which we rarely talk about to others so as not to offend anyone.”

        She said that she had reasons, so I was expecting her to go into them. If she wanted to make the point that she didn’t need to have a reason other than it not being what they wanted, why didn’t she just say that?

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        ele4phant September 19, 2012, 4:50 pm

        @theattack. Well, if she clearly withheld because she felt people would take offense to her (personally specific) reasons, and didn’t want that to happen.

        Obvisouly, in retrospect that didn’t work so she should’ve just put them all out there and got all the backlash she’s getting anyways.

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      • becboo84

        BecBoo84 September 19, 2012, 4:47 pm

        @IWTTS-I actually did get all of those questions and more, especially from my older sister, kind of akin to a gentle interrogation. I got engaged at 21, married shortly after I turned 22, and had my daughter shortly before I turned 24. Even though I was out of grad school, etc, I still got ALL of those questions.

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        GatorGirl September 19, 2012, 5:24 pm

        I got those same questions too.

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      • katie

        katie September 19, 2012, 3:06 pm

        well, again, the way someone feels is not a direct attack at people who feel differently.

        “To me, that kind of commitment is much more empowering. We don’t need to get married because the commitment is already there. We don’t need a wedding to start our adventure because we’re already on it.”

        to that, you just say, thats awesome! im glad your happy in your life! all that means is that she, her specifically, feels more empowered and more committed doing it this way. its not a comment about anyone else.

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        GatorGirl September 19, 2012, 3:15 pm

        It’s not that she doesn’t feel the need to get married. That’s great- get married or don’t. I really could care less. But don’t insinuate that my committment isn’t there because I’m not married yet and that my adventure is on hold because my wedding is a few months away. It was a poor choice in words in my opinion, and honestly something that is a private decision.

        She also never gave any real reasons for not wanting to marry. Just that she didn’t want a “sprarkly ring” or to pick our wedding dresses or center peices.

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        ele4phant September 19, 2012, 3:28 pm

        I’m not clear on what you mean by “she doesn’t give any reasons to not get married.”

        What’s a good reason to not get married, aside from “I don’t feel it gives me anymore committment than we already have”? That’s not what you feel, its not what I feel, but I think if one feels marriage is going to give their relationship any more committed than they already have is a pretty good reason to not get married; seeing as the whole point of marriage is committment.

        I really don’t see how she could have explained her decision in a way that would be acceptable to someone who doesn’t already share her opinion. You don’t have to understand it (I don’t – I think marriage does signal higher commitment) but I also understand there’s no way for her to explain her feelings without laying out how she feels about marriage. Which is she doesn’t think much about it.

        You don’t have to agree, but its not an indicment of your, or mine, or anyone elses choices.

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      • katie

        katie September 19, 2012, 3:40 pm

        yea, i just dont read into like that… i have no idea how you made that jump.

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        ele4phant September 19, 2012, 3:10 pm

        I still don’t see it.

        To me its quite clear she’s saying this about herself and her relationship. The whole “To me”, indicates this is how she feels for *her* and *her life*.

        If she had dropped those two words and said “Making a commitment without marriage is much more empowering. People don’t need to get married because the committment is already there” I’d agree with you that she was judging everybody else who decided not to get married.

        But how to you explain why you personally don’t feel the need to get married, without explaining why you personally don’t value what marriage would mean for you?

        I am struggling to see how she could have said she didn’t want to get married without being percieved as judgemental of those who do. What sort of phrasing would you personally have used if you were in her shoes?

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      • iwannatalktosampson

        Iwannatalktosampson September 19, 2012, 3:37 pm

        Right – it is more empowering for her. She is living her life and you are living yours. So shouldn’t you both me the most happy with your own decisions? How is that any different than you thinking that marriage is the be all end all? It’s not important to her and she’s happy with her choice – and she personally feels empowered by that. How is that about you and your choices at all? I would hope that you think your choice is better than hers because it is your life. You need to do what will make you feel empowered and secure in your relationship.

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        CSP September 19, 2012, 3:47 pm

        I will argue that the empowering point can be true. If you don’t get married, you are more likely to keep separate finances. You are more likely to keep and independent life. However, this only works if you are financial equals and don’t plan on leaning on each other financially.

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      • Cassie

        Cassie B September 21, 2012, 1:31 am

        I’m married, and I’m sorry but my marriage did not make my commitment. My commitment was already there. I chose to get married because of that commitment, and for personal values and religious reasons. Also, the ‘wedding’ did not start the adventure for the two of us. It was merely another adventure among the many we have already experienced and will experience. Not to mention, there was less of a focus on the wedding and more of a focus on the marriage relationship. So, these things are not mutually exclusive.

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      • theattack

        theattack September 19, 2012, 2:55 pm

        I agree with your statement wholeheartedly. I don’t think she meant to attack anyone personally, and I don’t really think she did. I just think the language she used was a little bit careless. In reality she might not, but in her language here she presumes that people who are interested in getting engaged or getting married are all about a ring, and that maybe they aren’t as interested in other awesome things (like rock-climbing). She’s contrasting her healthy relationship to relationships that are leading to marriage, but she’s doing it by saying how she’s not materialistic and how she wants to do fun stuff like rock-climbing. Without adding anything additional about why she doesn’t want to get married, the corollary to that statement is that people who do want to get married are materialistic and don’t do fun, interesting things.

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        mf September 19, 2012, 4:08 pm

        Very well said. I have no problems with her opinions or choices on marriage. I do, however, think this is a mediocre to poorly written essay for the exact reason you’ve stated.

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        6napkinburger September 19, 2012, 2:48 pm

        Agreed. And I do want the ring and the dress.

        Really, when you think about it, there is no non-offensive way to say “if it works for you, great, but it’s not for me.” because that’s just about the nicest way you can say it and it STILL seems dismissive. Because, to be honest, it is. But so what? I want a ring and a dress. And i secretly feel that all the poeple who say that they don’t want that think they are better in some ways than those of us who do. And I feel like that BECAUSE IT’S TRUE! People who don’t want the material stuff DO think/feel they are better (in a way) than those who don’t. But again, who care? I don’t think they’re better! If I did, I wouldn’t want the dress and ring either! Why do I care if they do?

        All choices are dismissive of the other options- literally and more broadly. we can make the language as polite as we want (and we should!) but it doesn’t stop the dismissing! If we thought the other choices were better, we’d choose them. If I thought mountain climbing with a live-in perennial boyfriend was better than marrying the love of my life, I would do it. And so would you! But we don’t. Unless we can honestly say -“If I were in your position, I would do the same thing, but because my situation is different, I’m making different choices” then we really are judging our choices to be better than theirs. Which I don’t really see a problem with, as long as everyone is nice about it.

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        ele4phant September 19, 2012, 2:58 pm

        That’s a good point. When you make a choice (any choice) you’re literally dismissing all other choices available to you. You are judging one as better than the others. Otherwise, you wouldn’t choose it. And invariably, others make different calls and will dismiss the choice you made in favor of others.

        But as long as we’re all happy with our own choices, who gives a crap what others do? In the end, isn’t it nice that we have the ability to choice? That we can pick who we get married to, if we want to get married, or if we want to be partnered up at all.

        Just a few generations ago, we wouldn’t have been so lucky.

        Be happy we’re you’re at, wherever that happens be.

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    • theattack

      theattack September 19, 2012, 2:39 pm

      Totally agree. I completely respect anyone’s decision not to get married. I used to not want to myself. But I don’t appreciate someone assuming that because I’m engaged I’m more excited about my engagement ring or my wedding dress than the huge official commitment I’m making to my future husband.

      My fiance and I actually have this little game we play with each other: Would you still marry me if……

      And we come up with these scenarios where it would be less desirable or there wouldn’t be a wedding or something, and then we joke around about the hypothetical hoops we would jump through to do it anyway. ie: “Would you still marry me if the zombie apocalypse started before our wedding date?” And then we plan out what town we would hop through to get married immediately on the way to the wilderness area we’ve planned on hiding out in. It’s a fun game.

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    TECH September 19, 2012, 2:46 pm

    I think this is the reason the writer is not getting married:
    “We don’t need to get married because the commitment is already there. We don’t need a wedding to start our adventure because we’re already on it.”
    I can respect her feelings, but I think people usually fall into one of two categories when they don’t want to get married.
    1. They don’t think it’s important.
    2. They’re threatened by it, and by extension, afraid if they get married they will fail.
    So many people say marriage is just a “piece of paper.” But it’s not. If marriage is just a piece of paper, why are you scared of it? If it doesn’t mean anything, then why not do it?

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    • Budj

      Budj September 19, 2012, 3:01 pm

      Stop! How dare you make people question their motivations?! (sarcasm) Seriously though – those justifications are willy nilly to me too.

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      MJ September 19, 2012, 3:02 pm

      Yeah, marriage, for better or worse (ha!) is society’s way of declaring your relationship legit and the most important one in your life. There are laws, benefits, rules, etc., that govern marriage for that reason. You stand in front of a judge, or a minister, and witnesses and say out loud that you’re committing for life.

      This is part of why so many lesbian and gay couples are advocates of marriage for themselves. Marriage is the whole package, and it says your relationship is legitimate in the eyes of the state and society, and that’s a big effin’ deal.

      Whether you think you need it or not, it’s something more than a piece of paper.

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        CSP September 19, 2012, 3:40 pm

        Amazing Point.!!!

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      • becboo84

        BecBoo84 September 19, 2012, 5:03 pm

        Loved your point regarding gay rights! Thanks for bringing that into the debate.

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        Mr. Cellophane September 19, 2012, 11:27 pm

        I was wondering this same thing. If marriage isn’t important, then why are we all (both sides) fighting over who does and doesn’t have the right to marry? You can have the marriage without the wedding hoopla, but you can also have the wedding hoopla without the marriage. So marriage MUST mean something!
        It puzzles me that while several gay couples I know are flocking toward marriage, more hetero couples I know are avoiding it the best they can!

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      ele4phant September 19, 2012, 3:17 pm

      Maybe this is a bad example, but why don’t people who are aethists (but not antagonistic to the idea of religion) go to church? After all, if God isn’t something they believe in, then what’s the big deal about going? There’s nothing to be afraid if, its just sitting and listening to someone talk for awhile right, why not do it?

      Because they don’t see any reason to, of course. Its a waste of their time they could be doing things they do care about.

      Just like those who think marriage is just a piece of paper don’t think it means anything either. Why waste the time and the effort if there’s no reason to? (Unless of course, you are trying to appease your family, in either example).

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      • theattack

        theattack September 19, 2012, 3:37 pm

        Your atheist example would fall under the category of 1) Don’t think it’s important.

        Getting married takes all of thirty minutes and about fifty dollars in city hall. Hypothetically, if someone offered to pay that fee and someone still didn’t want to get married because it was “just a piece of paper,” it’s likely that they are either not actually as committed as they thought they were, or they decidedly don’t believe in marriage. Otherwise, if they’re 100% committed to forever and they have faith in their relationship, why else would they not do it?

        Btw, I think it’s totally fine to not want to get married for any reason. But logically, I think this is the way it goes when making a general decision not to.

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        ele4phant September 19, 2012, 3:43 pm

        I don’t doubt that there are *some* people who geniunely are scared of marriage, and hiding behind the facade of “It doesn’t mean anything.”.

        But I think its presumptious to say to people who truly don’t care about marriage “If it doesn’t mean anything, if its just a piece of paper, why don’t you just go do it?”

        Why should they have to? To prove to others that they do or do not care about marriage? What sort of reverse logic is that?

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      • theattack

        theattack September 19, 2012, 3:49 pm

        Not wanting to get married is different from thinking that marriage is basically meaningless. If they don’t want to get married then they wouldn’t, but if they literally thought that marriage meant nothing more than having their name written on a piece of paper, and writing their name took no effort, then there’s not any more of a reason to not write their name than there is a reason to write their name. Of course they could just as easily not sign it as they could sign it, but if they are actually opposed to signing it, there’s probably something more to it than thinking it is a meaningless piece of paper. They probably actively don’t want to sign the piece of paper. (I’m not sure if that made sense outside of my rambling brain or not)

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        ele4phant September 19, 2012, 3:58 pm

        I still don’t understand your arguement here.

        Why would I do something, anything, if I didn’t feel it was worthwhile (not opposed, just neutral on it)? Even if its a minimal cost and effort, why would you do something you don’t care about? If you’re neutral on something, the logical answer would be to save yourself the (perhaps itty-bitty) bother, and not pursue it.

        I’ll be graduating from grad school in a few months. To go through the ceremony isn’t that big deal to me. I’m not opposed to graduation, I just don’t care. I know I’m finished, my masters will come in the mail, so why should I go to the graduation? It seems pointless. By your logic, if I didn’t care, I should just go, because what does it matter to me? It doesn’t matter to me, that’s why I’m not bothering with it.

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      • theattack

        theattack September 19, 2012, 4:10 pm

        Going to graduation takes time and effort, and they’re usually pretty boring. You could do lots of other things instead of graduation, so that example isn’t good to me.

        Let’s say blinking your eyes. If you could blink your eyes and be married or keep them open and not be married, it takes barely any energy to do one or the other. Therefore, if marriage is absolutely meaningless and you don’t care whether or not you’re married then you’ll probably just let your eyes do whatever they feel like, and if you do feel like blinking you’re not concerned about it, and if you don’t feel like blinking you’re not concerned about it, because marriage is literally just a meaningless blink. If you actively choose to not blink your eyes and become married, it’s because you didn’t want to. If you choose to blink them on purpose it’s because you did want to. If someone truly thinks it’s meaningless then they won’t care when pushed into that corner (not that anyone should EVER push them into that corner). I just don’t think people put that much effort into not caring about something.

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        ele4phant September 19, 2012, 4:17 pm

        Blinking is not like marriage. Marriage isn’t like blinking your eyes. Marriage isn’t a natural biological function, blinking is. You actively have to make an effort to get married (albeit fairly minimal), just as you have to make an active effort to not blink. The natural state of being for people is to be a blinking non-married person. To stop blinking, or to get married, that takes a modicum of doing on your part.

        You’re not going to blink and find yourself in the courthouse with a pen in your hand and a marriage liscense in front of you. Its something, unlike blinking, you have to pursue.

        So why would you pursue it, if you’re not interested?

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        ele4phant September 19, 2012, 4:19 pm

        You literally have to make some effort to get married.

        Not getting married, that’s the one that takes no effort.

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      • theattack

        theattack September 19, 2012, 4:26 pm

        I get that in reality my analogy doesn’t make any sense. I’m just using it to say that “it’s just a piece of paper” doesn’t seem like a real thing to me. I think there’s always something more than that.

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        CSP September 19, 2012, 3:42 pm

        great point. I totally agree if both partners are financial equals and plan to remain so.

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        Riefer September 19, 2012, 3:51 pm

        But in your atheist example, there are no benefits to going to church for them. I’m sure some atheists do go to church, because for some there are benefits (appeasing family, being part of a community, etc). But for an atheist who gets no benefits from going to church, it would make no sense.

        On the other hand, marriage does confer benefits. So the analogy isn’t perfect, because there actually is something to gain. Whether you think the bother of doing it is worth the gain, is another question. But the gain is there, if you choose to do it.

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        ele4phant September 19, 2012, 4:12 pm

        Its not a perfect analogy, true (although you could argue that if someone was antagonistic, they *may* gain something by going to church and leading a virtous life if they were wrong about the whole no-God thing).

        There material benefits to marriage, to be sure.

        But many of these can be gained legally otherwise, right? I’m not a lawyer, but domestic partnerships, contracts, these can secure you some of the same benefits, right? And to be truthful, most people are getting married primarily because of the symoblic meaning of marriage, and all other benefits are icing on the cake. So, if you don’t believe in the symbology of marriage, and you can secure some of the same benefits marriage provides…what’s the point?

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        Riefer September 19, 2012, 4:26 pm

        *Some* of the same benefits. Not all. If you could get them all without being married, gay people wouldn’t be so angry that they can’t be married.

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      • iwannatalktosampson

        Iwannatalktosampson September 19, 2012, 4:29 pm

        What are these married benefits that people speak of? What am I missing out on. You know what changed when I got married? My last name. That’s it. There is no secret tax breaks. I know this – I’m a tax attorney. No one offers to bump me to first class because I am on my honeymoon. No one tells me how stable my relationship is everyday. I have my name on his bank account and vice versa – but I used his card while we were dating anyway.

        I mean seriously what is everyone talking about with these benefits? Hook it up. I guess I get to choose whether or not to take him off life support – but I mean does anyone REALLY want that privilege?

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      • becboo84

        BecBoo84 September 19, 2012, 5:02 pm

        If no one offered to bump you to first class on your honeymoon, and there were open seats, you totally got screwed!

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      • theattack

        theattack September 19, 2012, 5:09 pm

        At least in my state, adoption is a huge one. I wouldn’t even really call that a benefit of marriage as much as it is a restriction for people who aren’t married.

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        iseeshiny September 19, 2012, 5:13 pm

        The only one I’ve seen so far is health insurance and asset allocation if one of you should die without a will. (In my state you can adopt if you’re not married.)

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        Riefer September 19, 2012, 5:24 pm

        skyblossom has a great post below that outlines a lot of the benefits. Things like if you die, your spouse automatically inherits your assets, instead of your parents. They’re just things you don’t notice until you need them. They’re not necessarily monetary. Although, isn’t it also true that if you inherit assets from your spouse, you don’t pay tax? Whereas if you had a life partner who left everything to you in their will, you would have to pay tax on it? I’m Canadian so I’m not sure how it works in the states, but there’s a monetary benefit for you.

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        ele4phant September 19, 2012, 4:32 pm

        Depending on a state by state basis, doesn’t domestic partnership afford you many of the same benefits?

        Obvisouly, in many places gay couples don’t even have any sort of recognition, but my understanding (as someone living in a progressive state that has the everything but marriage option – at least untile fingerscrossed November) was that the fight is also about the symbology of marriage, of being afforded the same right to choice and have the same recognition as any other couple.

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        Riefer September 19, 2012, 5:28 pm

        I don’t know the details of domestic partnership, I live in a country where we just call it marriage and it’s the exact same thing as straight marriage. I agree that gay people would still fight for the word marriage (as they should), but they at least would be able to call their partner part of their family. Right now, without marriage in most states, they’re blocked out of hospital rooms, they’re not parents to their spouses kids, etc.

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      • katie

        katie September 19, 2012, 4:37 pm

        i think for gay people, it is much more of the fact that marriage and all the legal implications are tied up in a nice little package and are super -super- easy to get, and easy to prove.

        if a gay person wants to see their non-biological child that they had with their partner, they have to bring a whole briefcase full of paperwork, and probably a lawyer with them.

        thats the difference, and thats what true equality would mean for gay marriage. gay people can still get most, if not all, the legal “benefits” of marriage- hell, straight people, like this author, could do it if she wants. but, it takes a ton of paperwork and a lot of hassles.

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  • avatar

    Nikki September 19, 2012, 2:56 pm

    As a fellow hiker/rock climber/ committed girlfriend/ shopper for things with armpit ventilation, I love this!

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      Trixy Minx September 19, 2012, 3:16 pm

      I’m a frequent hiker too and she isn’t kidding when she talks about knowing that person is going to have your back! I’ve been in some really dangerous situations and you need to trust that person 100%

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    bethany September 19, 2012, 2:59 pm

    I can’t understand why people think they should have an opinion on someone else’s marital status. It is none of our business what you choose to do!

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      GatorGirl September 19, 2012, 3:02 pm

      Yes!! Agree!! Go do your thing and be happy and I’ll go do my thing and be happy and we can be happy for each other!

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      • iwannatalktosampson

        Iwannatalktosampson September 19, 2012, 3:48 pm

        Exactly! Which is why I love that this author is so secure in her life and empowered by remaining unmarried!

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      jlyfsh September 19, 2012, 4:46 pm

      people think they should be allowed to have an opinion on everyone’s status in regards to EVERYthing.

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      lindabun September 19, 2012, 5:13 pm

      We are discussing opinions because she wrote an essay for us to discuss.

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  • Budj

    Budj September 19, 2012, 3:02 pm

    I think people also need to keep in mind when dealing with older generations there is a culture clash. They do not compute decisions that don’t make sense to how social interactions went in their day.

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  • katie

    katie September 19, 2012, 3:11 pm

    the only thing i really like about a wedding, besides the fact that its a big party, is the fact that the two people have to admit, out loud, that they love the other one and they promise to be faithful and go through think and thin with that other person. so to me, that is the only part of a “marriage” i need. i dont need the legal part, although ill admit ill do it just for the benefits it gives, but i dont need it, i dont need the wedding or the ring or whatever else. i just want him to admit to me and to everyone else that he picks me. that, to me, the actual out loud reading of some kind of vows or promises, means a lot to me.

    and so, i think this lady is much more secure in herself then i am. haha and thats ok!

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      ele4phant September 19, 2012, 3:30 pm

      I agree. I want my BF to say it aloud, and in writing, that he’s going to stick around forever (and I the same)

      But if for this writer its enough to just make that committment silently every day through their actions, that’s pretty awesome. Not what I would do, but I’m glad they’ve found each other and can agree.

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      • katie

        katie September 19, 2012, 3:58 pm

        exactly.

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      bethany September 19, 2012, 3:48 pm

      I remember being so excited to hear my husband say those things out loud, too, because he’s not all that mushy in real life. Unfortunately, I think I blacked out for all of our ceremony and don’t remember any of it! However, a few days later when I was sleeping he took my phone and wrote me a little note in there, saying really sweet things about how happy he was to be my husband. It made me happy.

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    Schwinny September 19, 2012, 3:44 pm

    I understand your dismissal of marriage for the religious reasons but make sure you are not throwing away the benefits of civil marriage out of pride. If you become seriously ill, some hospitals may not consider your partner as your family. He may be barred from seeing you or excluded from important decisions about your care. If one of you dies, the other is likely to be hit with taxes on any inheritances. You can look at some of the heartbreaking stories from states where same-sex marriage is not legal for some ideas of the potential problems. If you are adamant about not getting married, make sure you have all of the important legal protections in place so that your partner and eventual children are well-protected.

    My own experience with this same issue (together 5 years, not in any rush to marry) is that hints don’t work with family. I finally had a very frank conversation with my mother. My partner does not want kids. I have been pretty indifferent about having kids. I am in no rush to marry him until I am completely confident that no kids is fine by me. Mom didn’t like the answer but respected it.

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  • iwannatalktosampson

    Iwannatalktosampson September 19, 2012, 3:46 pm

    I wish everyone was more secure in their life choices. I find it hilarious that married people are so offended by this author. Why? Because she said she feels more empowered staying together because they want to not because they’re married? More power to the author. The happier people are the happier the world is.

    I wish everyone would stop making other people’s choices a refection of their lives. Or make it about them. The authors choice to not marry is about her and her life. When people get defensive I assume they have a bad/unhappy life. This all coming from a married person. I know plenty of people who should not be married. I love supporting people not getting married. The same way I like to support myself and my marriage. And other people not having kids. And some other people having kids.

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    • katie

      katie September 19, 2012, 4:20 pm

      preach.

      contrary to what most people think, everything is not about them.

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    • FireStar

      FireStar September 19, 2012, 4:34 pm

      What a revolutionary concept. Everyone live their lives according to what is best for them and everyone else stay the hell out of it.

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    • becboo84

      BecBoo84 September 19, 2012, 4:49 pm

      I actually don’t think most people, married or not, are at all offended by what the author wrote. I do, however, think that the two people who do happen to be offended by the article are extremely vocal 🙂

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      • theattack

        theattack September 19, 2012, 5:03 pm

        I just want to say again, I’M NOT OFFENDED BY THE ARTICLE. Sheesh.

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        Riefer September 19, 2012, 5:19 pm

        I hope you don’t mean me! 🙂 Because I’m not offended, but I do worry that people aren’t thinking about the consequences of combining finances without protection. That’s all. If you can keep your finances totally separate, and ensure that any assets legally belong to both of you, then that’s good. It doesn’t give you everything that marriage does (like legal rights involving health issues, or tax-free inheritance, or even getting on your partner’s health insurance), but at least it’s some protection. But I think people don’t always consider these things. And that’s why I chime in, because if everyone just said, “great, it’s your decision!”, then people reading it might decide it’s fine for them too, without thinking of what marriage gives you.

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        Riefer September 19, 2012, 5:30 pm

        Also, I have some work to do that I REALLY don’t want to do, so as you can see, I’m using this article to procrastinate. 😉

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      • becboo84

        BecBoo84 September 20, 2012, 10:17 am

        Haha, no, I wasn’t referencing you. I thought you had a lot of awesome points that I hadn’t even thought of, and I’m actually married!

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        GatorGirl September 19, 2012, 5:30 pm

        I assume you we’re referring to me- and like I said above, I’m not offended by her choice rather how she seemed to imply my choice was less valid.

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        *HmC* September 19, 2012, 5:43 pm

        From the article:

        “If you asked either one of us, we could probably give you quite a few reasons why we decided marriage isn’t right for us, most of which we rarely talk about to others so as not to offend anyone… I don’t want to dismiss the beliefs of others and I try to respect the way other people feel — even if it’s a direct opposition to what I want for my life — and I wish people who are still holding out for a wedding would respect that my relationship is just a little different.”

        Not only does she not imply that choosing to get married is less valid, but she explicitly disclaims that idea. I can’t imagine someone writing about their choice not to get married in a less offensive way. By your standards I feel like it would be impossible for her to describe why not getting married is right for her without impliedly offending married people.

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        GatorGirl September 19, 2012, 6:02 pm

        It was the way she talked about sparkly diamonds and dress shopping as though someone who wants to do those things is obviously not as great to her and her partner- that you’re just materialistic if you want to have a wedding. Also the comment about not needing to wait for her adventure because she’s already on it as though I’m sitting here with my whole life on pause until my wedding happens.

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        ele4phant September 19, 2012, 6:07 pm

        My goodness, *she* doesn’t want those things for *herself*. Not wanting something for yourself doesn’t mean you look down your nose at those who do.

        And I assume she says “she’s already on her adventure” because undoubtly those who do think she should needs to get married have the attitude that she and her BF are just playing house and not building a life together already.

        Again, I think given the rest of the article its clear she’s defending her *own* choices, not attacking those of others.

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        ele4phant September 19, 2012, 6:18 pm

        I don’t want a sparkly diamond, or a big poofy white dress, or a reception that costs me several months salary. I don’t think it sounds fun, I don’t understand the point, and I could personally would rather put that money to other uses.

        But *if you do*, awesome! I am not looking down on you. If its going to make you and your fiance happy, go for it. Its your life, your money, and your joy. I don’t want that, but I’m not you. The writer isn’t you. She’s not making a broad statement that everyone who doesn’t have the same feelings than her is less than. She tried very hard throughout the essay to make it clear that these were *her sentiments* and *her choices*, and she just wished her family could respect that she doesn’t want to pursue the same choices most others make.

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        Trixy Minx September 20, 2012, 12:42 am

        Finally sooner good reasoning. I thought the lw was very good. I can relate too alot of what she says

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    RMM0278 September 19, 2012, 3:51 pm

    Here’s the thing though: neither of you two know what’s going to happen in the future. You just don’t. Sure marriage won’t make me love my husband more. It won’t improve my relationship, and it certainly won’t make him stay. That’s not why I value it.

    As for my ex, I moved in, paid rent (he owned the condo), contributed to groceries, gave him money, etc., all thinking we were working towards a joint life — something he promised me multiple times. And then one day, he didn’t want to be in a relationship anymore. He gave me 20 hours to move out, never paid back the thousands of dollars he owed me, and walked away with zero obligations. My whole life upended while his stayed the same. I was almost homeless while he was out dating. And why? Because I had no legal protections. I had no way to preserve what I thought was my home (a divorce agreement would have); I had no way to recoup the money I invested in us (a divorce agreement would have acknowledged that); and there was absolutely nothing I could do. It was a good deal for him though because he got all these decreased living expenses with no responsibility to anyone else. And that’s when I realized why he loved our relationship…because it was like marriage but with an escape hatch. He never really had to commit to me ever because he knew he could drop me whenever he wanted — despite everything he promised. Those were things I NEVER thought he was capable of. Ever.

    And before you say it’s all different, I used to think like that too. My ex swore he’d never let me down, he’d always love me, and he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me no matter what. I’m not saying something like that will happen to everyone else, but don’t think for a second that it couldn’t.

    I realize that if we’d been married, we’d probably be divorced. But at least I wouldn’t have been thrown out on my ass. I would have had some sort of cushion that marriage offers the jilted.

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    • katie

      katie September 19, 2012, 4:04 pm

      see but that situation to me just says that you shouldnt be paying a mortgage that isnt your own.

      you should have you own safety nets for any issues that can happen. plan for the worst, ect… your situation is not a case for marriage, in my opinion. its a case for better life planning.

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        RMM0278 September 19, 2012, 4:12 pm

        And if we’d been married, it never would have mattered that my name wasn’t on the mortgage. He wouldn’t have been able to throw me out. You’re right. I shouldn’t have been paying a mortgage that wasn’t mine. But how was I supposed to know he was going to do what he did? I only went on what he told me. I believed we had a joint life, which came with joint expenses.

        I’m not really sure how else I could have planned for the worst. I guess I could have turned every bill payment or check writing into a business contact complete with what I was paying for and the expectation he would or wouldn’t pay me back. It doesn’t really sound like a relationship to me.

        Do I get less recognition in our break up because I wasn’t the wife? This article argues that someone like me should have gotten equal recognition because the lifetime commitment was already there.

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        iseeshiny September 19, 2012, 4:18 pm

        I am in no way attempting to victim blame here – what your ex did was an extraordinarily shitty, shitty thing to do and illegal in some places (NYC comes to mind) – but when my boyfriend and I lived together, yes, we explicitly discussed finances, expense sharing and who would keep the apartment if we broke up. Now, for us that was never tested because we ended up staying together, but having healthy financial boundaries in a relationship are important and there are ways to protect yourself from being taken advantage of by an SO that way in the future.

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      • katie

        katie September 19, 2012, 4:32 pm

        im not trying to victim blame either, really please dont take it that way- but shiny is right. you have to have those talks. you have to know what would happen should the worst happen. plan for the worst applies if you are married or single or whatever..

        “I guess I could have turned every bill payment or check writing into a business contact complete with what I was paying for and the expectation he would or wouldn’t pay me back.”
        yea, actually, un-married couples do that.. finances and what happens if you split up are huge things to think about. and if you are going to go the not-married route, which you then understand means you dont have legal protections, then you would want to situate your life in a different way. so, in your spot, i would have wanted my name on the mortgage as well. i would want my name on the utilities, ect… thats really all marriage does anyway. its just buttoned up in a cute little package, instead of something you have to active go out and do.

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        RMM0278 September 19, 2012, 4:44 pm

        You two have missed the point. We did have those discussions. I wasn’t blindly paying him money. We both did the bill paying. And yes we did discuss what we’d do if we broke up. There were agreements on all of these things.

        It would be: he’d let me crash at that place until I could get something else (we agreed a few months) and he’d gladly help me financially get back on my feet. As you can see from my original narrative, neither of those things happened primarily because he had ZERO obligation to do so. Once he wanted out, he wanted out. Any previous agreement be damned.

        I have no doubt un-married couples do the same. I just wonder how legally enforceable those agreements are.

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        iseeshiny September 19, 2012, 4:47 pm

        Whoops, that’s what I get for not refreshing. Sorry, I don’t mean to sound like I’m piling on here.

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      • katie

        katie September 19, 2012, 4:49 pm

        i just still dont see that as a case for marriage. you shouldnt get married as a safety net..

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        iseeshiny September 19, 2012, 4:45 pm

        Or even if she wasn’t going to have her name on the mortgage, write a lease! People pay on other people’s mortgage all the time – I rented for years before buying a home.

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      • FireStar

        FireStar September 19, 2012, 4:48 pm

        There are lots of things that people cohabiting should do to make sure what happened to you doesn’t happen again. There are cohabitation agreements – essentially pre-nups for non-married people. There are ways of structuring your finances so that you are not ‘out’ anything. Depending on your jurisdiction, the law provides for constructive trusts in common-law relationships so that one party is not unjustly enriched at the expense of another. We all have to take responsibility for our relationships – including the financial aspects. If you know you don’t have some of the built in protections of marriage then it is incumbent on you to put other things in place to protect yourself. I’m sure that was a hard lesson for you but even in marriage there can be inequality in finances and it is the responsibility of BOTH partners to put things in place to protect themselves going forward. I think it is dangerous to assume marriage is a panacea for anything.

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        iseeshiny September 19, 2012, 5:02 pm

        Yes! This is what was bugging me in the back of my head – like marriage does provide some protections, but if your spouse wants to screw you over, they still can. In some ways being married can make it easier to do that. I have a couple of friends who are incredibly fucked financially, one because her ex planned ahead and hid most of his assets including his severance from when he was laid off, so he looked broke and unemployed, the other because her husband ran up a ton of debt in her name.

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        muffy September 20, 2012, 9:22 am

        See the thing is though it’s easy enough to say that she had constructive trusts and legal recourse etc etc (which she likely would have by the way) BUT legal action is so expensive. Very expensive. And long. And drawn out and ugly. Sure she could get part of the value of the house maybe but then she’d be paying that over to the lawyer! Trial fees are ridiculous. Constructive trust is not easy to argue. BUT at least in some Canadian provinces if you were together for I think it’s 3 years then you get property division and spousal support. Not in Ontario, Alberta, Quebec though (not sure about the maritimes)

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      • iwannatalktosampson

        Iwannatalktosampson September 19, 2012, 4:14 pm

        For reals. Who would actually pay a mortgage that they had no legal rights too? I mean come on people. It’s like giving someone the rope to hang you – or however that saying goes.

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        RMM0278 September 19, 2012, 4:19 pm

        The author apparently. I mean a deed is just a piece of paper, right? We don’t need it because the commitment to ownership is already there.

        Isn’t that the whole point of this article? You don’t need a legal contract if you’ve already committed yourselves to each other?

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      • iwannatalktosampson

        Iwannatalktosampson September 19, 2012, 4:24 pm

        Why are you assuming the mortgage isn’t in her name only? Or that they don’t rent so that they’re not tied down to one house? How very sexist of you to assume that he is the home owner.

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      mf September 19, 2012, 4:18 pm

      YES. It won’t keep your partner from leaving, but it does make the cost (literal & figurative) that much greater if he/she does choose to leave. It offers you legal protection in the case that the relationship does fail. Even if you don’t want to get married, it’s something to take into consideration if you have a long-term partner. If you don’t have the legal benefits of marriage, you need to have plan for this kind of situation.

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      • iwannatalktosampson

        Iwannatalktosampson September 19, 2012, 4:34 pm

        Right because divorce is so cheap these days. Why do y’all think divorce went down when the economy took a nose dive? People can’t afford to get divorced.

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        mf September 19, 2012, 4:54 pm

        That’s not my point at all. Divorce is expensive because it ensures that one partner doesn’t have to shoulder the expensive by themself. If your spouse walks out you and leaves you with a mortgage, kids, loans, etc., you can make him/her pay for it (legal fees, alimony, child support, the list goes…). I don’t mean that a divorced person should act vindictively towards their ex, but if a woman cheats on her husband, isn’t he entitled to half their assets? If a man abandons his wife and kids, doesn’t he owe them some support?

        When you get married, you are entering a contract. And when you break a contract, you usually have to pay for it. So I think it’s appropriate that divorce comes with a certain cost.

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        ele4phant September 19, 2012, 5:24 pm

        I don’t disagree with many of the points being made here about the protections marriage gives one in the case of seperation or divorce, but I can’t help find it ironic that marriage is being discussed as protection against the fallout of a failed relationship.

        I mean, everything being said is true, but what’t the meaning of marriage again? To symbolize forever committment, right? Or to guard against when the SOB eventually tries to screw you over?

        Ah well, I found it amusing at least.

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      • theattack

        theattack September 19, 2012, 5:29 pm

        I thought the same thing! It’s all true, and it’s all important, but I’m definitely not getting married so that I can get some money if he decides to leave! ha!

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      • theattack

        theattack September 19, 2012, 5:28 pm

        What sucks though is that even the person who didn’t do anything wrong still has to hire an attorney, which can cost thousands for a contested divorce. It’s not always punishment for ending the contract. Sometimes it’s undue punishment for marrying someone who eventually decided to end the contract.

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    anonymous September 19, 2012, 3:53 pm

    I think a broader and more important question is why people feel the need to pressure others to do as they would…it’s not as though the writer doesn’t know that marriage is an available option. It’s like my parents…I have some medical issues that are treated with pharmaceuticals. Other options that are available have not worked, and I have thoroughly researched the available options (believe me…). Meanwhile, my parents give me these harebrained articles to read on the latest diets that will fix all my problems; the worst is that these are based on bogus data & I’ve already investigated these things, and more! Plus they go on about “big pharma” all the time (and how it’s trying to kill you…).

    But enough about me — it’s really the point that too many people think that what works or has worked for them MUST work for someone else, and if the other person hasn’t implemented that solution/lifestyle/whatever, then it must be because it hasn’t crossed their mind. THAT is the condescension that I find offensive. We should NOT have to justify ourselves to others whatever our choices.

    That said, I explain my reasoning for many of my decisions to my kids so that they have the benefit of the reasoning process — my theory is that it enables them to make better decisions themselves.

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    • theattack

      theattack September 19, 2012, 3:57 pm

      I agree with you. I just wish this author had explained some of her reasoning to us, because I was genuinely pretty excited to hear about it.

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    Brigitte September 19, 2012, 4:08 pm

    Wait- her grandma sends email?! My grandma barely uses a phone! 😉

    I think some of the benefits and protections granted by marriage are things that are not yet relevant to her life as she’s young still, and they are both American citizens, and might never need the protection the law affords spouses. So ya, go ahead, remain committed without the paperwork if that works for you. But don’t diss something just because you haven’t tried it. I just find, at some point, doesn’t being someone’s girlfriend grow old? Like, when you’re 55 and you’ve got 3 teenagers together, does the word boyfriend adequately identify the important role this person has in your life? Don’t you want to be as bound together as possible?

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  • avatar

    Diana September 19, 2012, 4:14 pm

    All I know is, I want to be her friend!

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    Riefer September 19, 2012, 4:33 pm

    I don’t need a marriage to feel committed either. I’m committed regardless of the marriage. The marriage was for two things – to celebrate our commitment with the people we love most in the world, and to get the legal protections that marriage provides. I would hope that no one needs a marriage to feel committed. If they do, then there may be issues in the relationship that they need to address.

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom September 19, 2012, 4:37 pm

    I totally agree with not needing to get married to be committed. We were committed to spending our lives together before we got engaged and I never felt the need for marriage to be committed. I do think you need to be committed before you get engaged. I didn’t feel that we needed marriage for us to stay together for life, I felt that we needed marriage for the society in which we live. By getting married we became each others next-of-kin, the closest living relative of each other. By getting married it was easier to own things jointly and to inherit from each other. If we weren’t married and one of us died then the parents/siblings of the deceased would inherit instead of the partner. As a married couple we are each in the position of making decisions for the other if one of us is in the hospital and unable to make decisions for our self. As a married couple, my husband was automatically the legal father of each of our children when they were born, no need to prove paternity. That protects all of us. So we didn’t need marriage to have commitment. The commitment led to the marriage and the marriage provides protections for both of us and our children.

    As for the ring, I wear my ring whenever I’m away from our house. I wear it because it says to everyone that I meet that I’m committed to my husband and our family. It says to the men that I meet that I’m not interested in a relationship. In my 40s I’ve found that there are lots of divorced men and they like to flirt and see if there is any interest and I’m glad to be wearing a ring that says I’m not interested. Sometimes it isn’t enough but it does help and it does make a statement. I don’t wear it because it’s a shiny bauble, I wear it as a symbol and statement of my marriage. It is also about the only jewelery that I ever wear. I own almost no jewelery because I’m not into it but my ring I wear.

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      mf September 19, 2012, 4:58 pm

      “So we didn’t need marriage to have commitment. The commitment led to the marriage and the marriage provides protections for both of us and our children.”

      I think this is exactly how everyone should enter into marriage. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. But in an ideal world, couples who choose marriage would do so because it is a sign of their commitment, not the source of it.

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      ktfran September 19, 2012, 4:59 pm

      You know. I’m on the fence as to whether or not I want to get married. It all depends on when and if I meet the right person. And, like the article’s author, I didn’t think I needed a piece of paper to tell anyone I was commited.

      But if I do meet the right person – someone I want to spend my life with – you make a very strong case for reasons why I would want to get married.

      Beautifully written Skyblossom.

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      *HmC* September 19, 2012, 5:31 pm

      ” I didn’t feel that we needed marriage for us to stay together for life, I felt that we needed marriage for the society in which we live.”

      Very simply and nicely put. I’m not interested in a big wedding or a fancy party, and I’m not religious, but I want to get married, for exactly the reasons you listed. Frankly, I feel like legal marriage exists for the purpose of financially assisting and generally promoting lifelong commitments, and it really only helps you if you are in an otherwise good relationship that you want to be in forever. I don’t personally understand wanting to be with someone forever, especially if you’re making the huge commitment of owning property or even having kids, yet vehemently insisting you don’t want a “piece of paper” that basically exists to help people exactly in your situation. I don’t relate to that mentality.

      That said, I couldn’t care less what anyone else decides to do with their relationships. If you feel too tied down by the piece of paper, or find it unromantic because of your personal life experiences with marriage or whatever other reason, I really don’t care because it has nothing to do with me. I don’t really understand it, nor do I find your choice to be personally offensive to my choice just because they are different. I think there are much more important things going on to be wringing my hands over. However people find their happiness in this world, so long as they’re not hurting anyone else, then good for them!

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    jlyfsh September 19, 2012, 4:51 pm

    i feel like this is so similar to the conversations i had with friends this past weekend about why i don’t want to have kids. and it’s not just them who ask, it feels like everyone. and the same people ask repeatedly, because you never know when you might just change your mind.

    learning to deflect those questions and be happy with where you are is what is most important. not coming up with a list for people of why you’ve made that decision. at the end of the day all that is important is that you’re happy.

    i will say that explaining that to people from older generations is a lot harder than even explaining to well meaning friends. some people though regardless of generation will never get it. and for some reason take your decision as a personal attack on them, because obviously if you’re doing it different then you think their decision to do the opposite is a bad one…which is so far from the truth. but, it’s hard to explain your decision without other people taking offense. because no matter what they will find some way to be offended.

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      ele4phant September 19, 2012, 4:58 pm

      Word. You can’t even say something as tame as “With kids or without kids, I’d be happy either way” without some parents feeling like you’ve just called *their* kid a snot-nosed, resource sucking, demon spawn.

      Which of course was not at all what you were saying.

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        Eagle Eye September 19, 2012, 6:32 pm

        Hahaha, except for those few times when you really really are… 🙂

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        ele4phant September 19, 2012, 6:42 pm

        All children are little miracles sent straight from heaven and how DARE you think they are anything less than angelic and endlessly fascinating. You selfish, shallow, child-hater you.

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        anonymous September 19, 2012, 6:44 pm

        especially mine
        *snort*

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      anonymous September 19, 2012, 6:43 pm

      Same concept, much more trivial — when it comes up in convo that we don’t own a TV and never have, people immediately start trying to justify why they have a TV. It’s always to watch the news and the History Channel… so interesting. As if I cared why they have one or what they watch on it!
      We have many reasons for not owning one, but people get so defensive at even the thought, that we’ve just come up with the standard, “we just don’t have the time to watch, and we can get all the news we want on the internet.”
      Looking over this, I realize it probably seems unrelated, but what it comes down to is, even when we don’t try to convert others to our choices, it can seem to others as though we are…

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    ReadingIsFundamental September 19, 2012, 5:16 pm

    If you’re in a committed relationship and it doesn’t matter to you whether you’re married or not then it’s worth your time to pull out the 1040 instructions and work out your taxes for married, married filing separately, and single. In many cases, the amount of money you throw away every year by insisting on not getting married may be a real eye-opener.

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    Addie Pray September 19, 2012, 5:31 pm

    Like bethany and others have said, it always shocks me when people think they should have an opinion on someone else’s marital status. But I also don’t get too offended by it when they do. Like Budj said (hi pooh bear!), I think we need to remember the culture clash when dealing with older people. On the one hand, I ignore (and I think rightfully so) my great aunt’s ridiculous comments to me about marriage and about how if I don’t get married soon I’ll have to be an attorney forever. (Because, I guess she’s assuming when I get married, I’ll get to quit my job? That would be nice.) Oh oh but sometimes she says shit like “don’t you want to make love?” (And I guess she assumes everyone waits for marriage, haha.) But I similarly ignore her racist comments, but I’m not sure if that’s right.

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    • theattack

      theattack September 19, 2012, 5:37 pm

      hahahahahhahaha, I loved this comment. Someone should base a movie character off of your great aunt.

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        Addie Pray September 19, 2012, 5:45 pm

        oh she’s a character alright. she’s pure evil though. seriously, satan’s spawn. she’s been known to call me at work and demand that i leave work immediately to pick up some orange juice and deliver it to her. i did it once. when i got to her place and went to the fridge to put it away, she already had 2 cartons of oj. oh, iz ok, she just needed an extra carton of oj in case her 2 backups got drunk before she could get a ride to the store again. … bitch, i don’t even have time to get myself oj! then, on my way out, she pinches my boobs (like, really pinches them) and says “you didn’t inherit my chest.” what the hell?

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      • theattack

        theattack September 19, 2012, 6:06 pm

        Wow, no one can say you’re not a great great-niece.

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  • fast eddie

    fast eddie September 19, 2012, 6:27 pm

    To my materialistic view, the only reasons to get married are legal entanglements and kids because it keeps things simple. BIG reason not to marry is the IRS penalty ($1,500/yr) which never goes away. That said we in the older generation have an emotional goal enforced by culture mores, to make it legal. Thankfully society and legislation has loosened up and couples have a choice unless they’re the same sex and live in a state that clings to stone age ideas.

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  • avatar

    Nicolasa September 19, 2012, 7:34 pm

    Just an FYI…

    A few states recognize some LTR as common law marriages. If you live in one of these states, and you “hold yourself out to be married” (by telling the community you are married, calling each other husband and wife, using the same last name, filing joint income tax returns, etc.), you can have a common law marriage. This technically makes you a legally married couple in every way, even though you never obtained a marriage license.

    This happened to my mother with her long term ex-boyfriend of 8 years. They never got married- but things got messy after they split. They were treated as a legally married couple and had to get a divorce- and he got half of her house and had to split many financial assets.

    So even if you don’t feel the need for marriage to feel committed- some states will force it upon you. :-/

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    • theattack

      theattack September 19, 2012, 8:23 pm

      I don’t have personal experience with common law marriage since my state doesn’t recognize it, but I’m pretty sure that the state can’t force it on you. You have to call yourself married and use words like husband & wife. You basically opt in to do that without ever actually getting married, but if you don’t do those things and you continue to call each other life partners or whatever, I don’t think they can just consider you married without your permission.

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        muffy September 20, 2012, 9:32 am

        No. You do not have to call yourselves “husband” and “wife” or “married”. When they say hold yourselves out to be married they are basically saying that you held yourself out to others as having an indefinite exclusive lifelong commitment (that obviously ended up not being lifelong). Things like living in the same house and paying the mortgage together, having kids (that’s a huge one) all go towards showing that. That would be waaay too big of a loophole if all you had to do was not call yourselves the words husband and wife. What the state is saying when you do those things is that you are basically married without the piece of paper and you have intertwined your life with another to the point that it would be unjust and unfair to just be able to walk away from the relationship because there wasn’t this piece of paper.

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    Sue Jones September 19, 2012, 11:03 pm

    I got married in my 30’s because I wanted to proclaim our love to the world and shout it from the rooftops, and I wanted the husband, kids, house, etc. If anything were to happen and I found myself single again, unless the guy was rich I do not think I would get married again… with my own child plus a stepson, the financial issues would be too complicated, etc. to want to hassle with all of that. I would want the children to get our entire estate and all our assets when I die and not have to wonder about providing for a 2nd husband and their kids as well. Unless he was filthy rich, in which case he probably would not want to marry me for those same reasons, especially if he had kids… it gets more complicated when one gets older… better to have a “special friend” at that stage of life…

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  • avatar

    Tinywormhole September 20, 2012, 12:29 am

    Ask someone who has lost their partner of many years (as in, he/she dies suddenly and unexpectedly) whether marriage matters. Suddenly your two income household is one, and you have been sharing financial responsibility for years, but now have ZERO right to any separate accounts, retirement funds, etc that they had intended to support your shared life. This happened to my friend and it scared the shit out of me, in a 4+ year relationship where we owned a house together but were not married.

    Now, we are married. First and foremost because we love each other and are committed, but also because it’s so incredibly important to protect your partnership as a family, in case of the unexpected. I feel safe and secure in a way I never did until we were married, and I don’t think a single one of our friends or family who watched us get up and say our vows would reduce our marriage to a piece of paper. IF you both agree the relationship is for life, it’s so much more than that.

    Just one person’s opinion…

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      Sue Jones September 20, 2012, 10:26 am

      Marriage, especially first marriages or marriages with kids or while you are building a shared life together, it is important for financial protection just like you said. Just imagine what gay and lesbian couples go through in order to have that same sort of protection and access ot accounts if they do not have civil unions, etc. They have to spend thousands of dollars on lawyers and even then it can be a hassle if you have to go and fight their parents in court or some such thing. But marriages when you both have adult children can be dicey for the opposite reason if you want your children to be the heirs. I have known cases where someone remarries and dies and their assets went to their second (or third) spouse and their kids get disinherited, basically.

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  • avatar

    Sasa September 20, 2012, 7:54 am

    Probably no one will read this comment because this post has been here for a while, but anyway… here goes: I think the idea that whether or not to get married is just a matter of individual preference is naive. Marriage is a highly normative societal institution. As others have mentioned, it’s the kind of relationship that is given the official “stamp of approval” by society. It’s linked with a bunch of other important cultural ideas such as monogamy, and (traditionally at least), compulsive heterosexuality and the subjection of women to men (in my country, f.ex.,it was compulsory for women to take their husband’s name until not too long ago, and the law said wives have to obey their husbands till 1989 or so…). In other words, marriage has tons of cultural baggage that I reject. Yes, everyone can create their own marriage, and even a feminist marriage is possible, but you can’t entirely escape the historical connotations of marriage. I think it’s good to be aware of them. Personally, I don’t want to get married because I oppose the idea that certain relationships are more “legitimate” than others. I don’t want the approval of the traditionally-minded, and if I got married, it would be hard to escape that. So there are reasons for not getting married other than being afraid of it or thinking “it’s just a piece of paper” – namely, political reasons! That said, I totally understand getting married for financial or legal reasons. Sometimes it makes sense. But if I did that I would likely feel some regret that not everyone else can get the same benefits and security and that I would be benefitting from an exclusionary institution. (No gay marriage/adoption in my country yet).

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  • avatar

    CJ September 20, 2012, 10:51 am

    First of all, people need to stop saying they don’t “believe” in marriage. Marriage is real, not a belief, so that phrasing is just weird.

    Second, if you don’t want to get married because you don’t want to get married, have at it. That’s the only explanation people need. Who cares if they don’t like it? If that is a choice you and your significant other are making because it’s the right choice for you, then that’s great. But don’t write an article about why you don’t want to get married. Invariably, you end up offending those of us who DO want to get/are married. Kinda like how this LW did. If you’d like, I can counter with an article all about why I DID get married. But what is the point? It’s my choice, and yours is your choice, no need to defend either position.

    Third, if you choose to write an article about your reasons, though, please stop using commentary like “I don’t need a ring” or “I don’t care about centerpieces”. That is all commentary about not wanting a wedding. A wedding is not a marriage. A wedding is simply a party that celebrates the start of a marriage. You can do as little as you want with regards to a ceremony and celebration if that is not something you care about or want to spend the money on. But don’t confuse the two because they are very very different. You don’t have to have a ring and you don’t have to change your name. A marriage can be anything you want it to be, so long as its agreed upon by both parties.

    Fourth, people who get married should do so because they’ve already reached a point in their relationship in which they are completely committed to each other. Being married doesn’t strengthen that committment, being committed to each other does. Marriage does bring a whole host of wonderful financial and legal benefits and protections, but the emotional aspect of marriage is the same the day after you get married as the day before you got married.

    As for your grandmother, and other family in friends in your life, constantly questioning it, unfortunately, you may be in a position where you just have to ignore it. She’s from a different time where people did different things, so your position, and your reasons, neither make sense nor seem logical to her. You probably will never make her understand. It’s frustating I’m sure, but if she’s the kind of person who will keep asking even after being given your reasons, then there’s really not much you can do. Appreciate that it means she loves you, and she obviously likes John, and then move on with your life. Everyone gets pressure from their families over the choices they make. It’s annoying, but you just have to press forward and do what is right for you regardless of how they feel. Don’t live your life for them.

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  • avatar

    Christy September 26, 2012, 5:58 pm

    Thank you for writing this, LW! I am someone who doesn’t want to get married and I have to justify my choice to family frequently (I think they’re starting to get the picture, though). (For the record, I don’t want to marry for the same reasons Sasa said.)

    As for the legal benefits of marriage, there are many. But those benefits can also be obtained by unmarried couples who set up power of attorney, health care proxy, wills, etc. As for sharing property or a mortgage, you can write a cohabitation agreement that is just as legal as a marriage certificate. Yes, it’s more paperwork than just signing a certificate, but it has also forced me and my partner to be intentional about what we want to share and what will happen if one of us dies/is incapacitated or we break up.

    Divorce court costs money too, FYI. You will have to pay for the legal protections whether you’re married or not. Everyone, especially women, needs to be thoughtful about their finances and future.

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