I am in love. With a person I plan to live with. Who is an amazing partner and a wonderful friend. Whom I think I’d like to grow old with, and with whom I dream of creating a merry band of progressive family and friends.
But there is no way, much as I want to show A how I love him that I’m eager to get married again. Been there. Done that. Got the divorce, the settlement, and the resolution not to do it again. “There is no way I ever want to get married again,” I tell my friends. “No reason to.”
And yet, the more involved A and I get, the more I review my reasons for not wanting to marry him. (And does that mean I really do?)
What I know is that I never again want to think about marrying someone as a way to show them how much I love them. I never want to get married to prove I care, to make a gesture, to let marriage become the declaration of commitment. I don’t want to get married so my friends and family know he’s the one for me, or to make it easier to handle our taxes.
I also don’t want to get married so I can have someone to take care of me. Or so I won’t be alone. Or for companionship, or to split the expenses. I don’t want to get married so we can share health insurance, or because it would protect us from STDs, heartbreak, loneliness, or depression.
I don’t believe in the institution of marriage anymore. Not for me, at my age and my stage. Although, many years ago, I thought making the commitment to get married was the most wonderful thing I could do, an amazing declaration of love between me and my former husband, now I think there are other ways to demonstrate commitment that are far more powerful. Like buying a house together, or planning a community, or just being happy and connected year after year, like my friends E and R, who after 5 years of dating, are having a hand-fasting, a beautiful pagan commitment ceremony.
Instead of marrying A, I want to treat him so well, every day, that our interaction has the same power as the legal ceremony I’m escuing. I want to be more honest and more present, more committed and more tender. I don’t want the security of being married to allow me to be in denial about ways I am not there for him the way it made it easier for me to ignore or deny my ex-husband’s distress during the long, slow erosion of what we had together. And I don’t want the rules and strictures of the state, or the social contract of marriage, have more emphasis than the life and the relationship we craft together.
I know that if A and I are together for many years, and our relationship continues to deepen, my feelings about getting married will change, and I may want to make that commitment, but right now, I am adamant about not going there. I need to show, and to demonstrate over and over, that this person and I are together not because we signed a piece of paper, but because we each chose to be here. And that the freedom to go is another one of the gifts we give one another in choosing, instead, to stay.
In our country, marriage is held up as a sacrament, a sacred union, the highest commitment. Little girls are trained to dream of it, boys to imagine they will someday select a bride. But not only do I not want the State to legislate whom I can—and cannot—marry, I also resent the popular culture that makes marriage the ultimate prize. The whole idea that couples who marry are by default more serious, more committed, and more absorbed in one another just puts my teeth on edge.
So as much as I sometimes feel tempted to give in to those old voices in my head that believe getting married is a way to show commitment, and those (newer) voices that want to ”prove” to A how much I care, my ultimate endgame is to push all that away. To call it silly (Or unnecessary).
Instead of thinking about whether or not I’d want to get married, what I need to do is to take the (for me much harder) step of being consistently caring, consistently present, consistently committed, in a way that brings us joy and moves us forward, day after day. That’s the hard work, in my book, the work that makes our love real, and that makes the sun glow on a cloudy day.
Related blog posts to read:
“Maybe we don't want to get married. Maybe we've both seen the effects of an unhappy marriage and don't want to be the people who are married and faking the happiness. Our happiness is real even though we're not married.”
Tired Mother: I’m worth more and I’m not going to settle
"I don't want to marry again. That would not be in my financial interest. Nor do I believe it would be in the interest of my kids. However, I don't think I would rule out having a relationship with someone. But I would be very particular about that person. It definitely would be someone who had a brain in his head."
Two vodka shots later: I don’t believe in marriage
“I don’t believe in marriage, let me be clear about that. It’s not that marriage sounds like a death sentence to me. Fact is, I just don’t believe in my capacity to hold on to a lifetime commitment. And if two people truly love and care for each other, there is no reason why they should sign on a piece of paper just to prove their eternal love.”
Anarchist Feminists United to Fight: Marriage is an epidemic
“People brush away my political decision not to marry and I’m seen as either not serious enough about my relationship to get married, or I’ll change my mind about marriage after I change your mind about having kids. It blows my mind that most people still take a state sanctioned marriage more seriously than long-term relationships, romantic or otherwise. Even if the people getting married have only known each other for a short time, the marriage certificate immediately legitimizes the relationship.”
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