Originally Posted by JustJulia
I know some people live together very happily, and I am not knocking those relationships at all. A good friend of mine has lived with her man for about 15 years--both of us refer to him as her husband. I didn't even know for the first three years I knew her that they weren't married. I am a very firm believer in commitment and taking care of our mates till death do us part. Whether or not somebody has the piece of paper or ring, I don't care. The long-term commitment is what matters to me, and as you acknowledge below, that's pretty much all that the ceremony is anyway ... announcing out loud that you are mated.
I agree that the staying is difficult, and I agree that the love and commitment are what matters. I don't understand why people who love and are committed to one another don't get married, but I realize that it's a personal choice.
Likewise, I resent being told that my marriage is on par with Britney's 48-hour fling, or that my commitment is simply a piece of paper. I also believe, as I said above, that if cohabiting people portray themselves as married, they should accept the stigma of divorce should they break up, which they often do. Cohabiters aren't more committed than married people. There are just as many frivolous, capricious, uncommitted people living together--their breakups are just not recorded with divorce certificates.
I am not trying to knock marriage but I honestly feel that marriage is not superior as a relationship to cohabitation. What really brings meaning to a relationship is how deeply committed you are to it, how mature and serious and how strong the bond and the love. There are people who are uncommitted and faithless in both cohabitation and marriage. I don't thing marriage means any more commitment at all. All it brings is a legal status to it.
To be honest most couples I know get married because society has deemed it superior and more worthy and thus does not give cohabitation the same legal rights. I was not entitled to my now husband's pension and other associated benefits until we got married last year. 21 years together, having gone through a loving, stable and long term relationship but people who got married after 2 weeks had more legal rights than us.
That to me is utterly ludicrous. Insulting , deameaning and quite frankly unjust. One is forced to get married simply to be recognised by society as being worthy and somehow serious....
Of course a lot of cohabitating people have no sense of commitment... Then again so do a lot of married people. One only has to look at the number of people who cite cheating as a reason for divorce or people who are swinging to see a mutually exclusive relationship seems an unlikely proposition for many people. Married or not.
I have been married for 9 months and can genuinely say I feel no different at all. The difference is that if Hubby died tommorrow I am now allowed to have a say in his funeral, entitled to the pension he has paid towards all his working life and that some people now think we actually "mean" it when we say we love each other.
Most couple I know have cohabited for years and years and usually marriage comes when kids arrive ( legal aspect again and social norms becoming even more of a pressure) or because they feel they have no rights.
I fell in love with a man , we moved in together 2 months after we met, and were for all intents and purposes married.
To address one of your previous posts, yes had we split it would to me have been the equivalent of divorce because in my heart I was married. And I would have accepted the "stigma" of divorce as I would have felt as bereft as any divorcee.
I wish society would encourage stable long term relationships and leave the emphasis of marriage to the side. To me marriage contract is in essence a private contract one makes with the other , having society's blessing really adds nothing of value. To me anyway.
I would not have felt any less pain had Hubby died when we were still cohabiting, not been any the less broken had he cheated on me. The emotions would be exactly the same. Love at the end of the day is the proof of the relationship pudding.
Commitment comes from the heart not from a Justice of the Peace or Pastor.
Marriage is a social construct . Relationships can flourish and flounder within both marriage and cohabitation. Neither is superior and nobody should be coerced into marriage by legal disparities and injustices and social expectations.
If someone's relationship is not solid enough without that piece of paper it will not be solid enoguh with it. Marriage does not make love stronger, commitment more true. It is simply a symbol. One which can easily be dissolved. Vows can easily be broken . And often are.
Human beings are not made better by a little piece of paper and their love more valid. You are either committed or not. With or without marriage.
No judgement of value should be put on cohabitation. I have nothing against marriage, and certainly do not knock the institution but I wish our society was a little more enlightened than to think marriage superior in any way,because it is not.
Talking of stigma , cohabiting couples still suffer quite a lot of social criticism ( spoken or unspoken) simply because they do not conform. The stigma attached to having kids outside of wedlock has for example greatly diminished but does still exist. Why ?
I know many loving and very happy, stable couples , unmarried with very happy, stable kids. Why should they have to get married to have rights ?
Hubby and I resisted marriage for so long in part because it was expected of us. The "natural" step for "normal" people. If you love someone then surely you must want to marry them. Neither of us were that keen on marriage.
We did it because I am disabled and unable to work and Hubby felt it would make me financially more secure ( not a very romantic reason.... ) and decided to give in , have a nice party with friends and spend a little more on our usual vacation ( Honeymoon).
In a way I feel slightly demeaned by society's insistence on marriage for our relationship to be deemed worthy. Hubby paid his pension dues he should be able to decide who they go to if he dies. Married or not. Period.
I don't wake up in the morning, thinking he loves me more because he married me. I knew he loved me way, way before that. When you fall potentially terminally ill within a few months of meeting someone and he stays with you , nurturing you with love,attention and care you know he loves you and a ring and a marriage certificate becomes rather obsolete...
When you meet you soulmate and finds someone you really want to grow old with and are happy to settle down with, warts and all you know that commitment is already part of your relationship...
Cohabitation still gets a bad name, because yes many relationships do flounder rapidly. But then so do marriages.
Both can be wonderful rewarding and absolutely blissful , but I refuse to believe that one is superior to the other. People are what make relationships work. Legal papers do not make a blind bit of difference. If you were not meant to be together all the lovely certificates in the world will not help to consolidate a crumbling house of cards.
I love being married as I loved cohabiting. Because what I truly love at the end of the day is me and him together, working as a team for our future, having a laugh together, taking on all the challenges that life throws at us, the tears, the illness and the great joys. Together is what it is about. Without him I would be a vessel lost at sea among life's storms. He is the man I love not because he is my husband but because of who he is. He feels the same. If anything I think he needed to be married more than I did , as he is a little more traditional than I am.
United not because of our legal status but because of who we are. Being married to me was just jumping through a legal hoop to satisfy some well thinking people who make the rules.