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The state of our unions

The many types of marriage

Marriage may be a centuries-old institution, but couples today are making it their own, reshaping it according to their individual personalities and their shared beliefs. They are choosing when they marry, whether they get hitched in their teens or wait until their 40s. They are rethinking how they marry, with some looking to their faith to strengthen their bond and others challenging the basic principles of marriage (monogamy, anyone?). And they are standing up for whom they marry, inviting us all to examine our ideas of what marriage really means. Take a peek into the lives of these nine couples that have vowed to love, honor, and cherish - and created their own visions of the ultimate commitment.



Courtesy of SubjectKelly and Carlos got married when she was 25 and he was 27 — the average ages of American newlyweds. With their three children — Madilyn, 6, Michael, 4, and Sophia, 11 months — Kelly, a stay-at-home mom, and Carlos, a manufacturing associate for a biotech company, embody what many of us grew up thinking marriage would look like.

Living the dream

"It took me three years of dating to know that I wanted to spend my life with Carlos," says Kelly. "I am spunky, spontaneous, a bookworm, and very sociable. He was quiet, calm, and enjoyed working on his car more than reading a novel. But at the core, I knew we wanted the same things — love, a family, a home. He was kind, caring, and a gentleman, and he loved me and returned my love in a way I had always been looking for. When I finally realized that Carlos was everything I wanted in a husband, I proposed!"

Give a little bit

"When you're married, you have to be a team. Carlos and I each sacrifice a lot for each other. He drives two hours to work every day so I can stay home with the kids, and he gets home really late. We both get exhausted and we miss each other so much. But we both respect what the other person is doing to make a good family life."

Couple time

"When I was in the hospital recovering from my C-section after Sophia was born, we joked that I've got to have a baby every few years so that Carlos and I can have some alone time! Being able to chat while Sophia slept and the nurses brought us food — even if it was pathetic hospital food — was like a second honeymoon!"

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