I Loved Your Wedding But Please Stop Telling Us to Get Married
Photo Courtesy Alan Stevenson
It's about time I got this off my chest: I don't want to get married. And neither does my husband. But this morning I read a blog post by relationship expert Debra Macleod, advising women not to live with men if they hope to settle down, "(b)ecause it removes much of a man's motivation to make the formal commitment of marriage within a reasonable time," leaving women "stuck in a cycle of hope and disappointment."
In the "does this milk smell bad to you?" vein, I was compelled to share it with my circles, generating waves of indignation.
And while this article was hopelessly dated at best and anti-feminist at its worst (she actually compared women to bovines: "Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?" [italics mine]), you'd be surprised how many people share her point of view.
Listen: I loved your wedding. The food, the eloquent speeches, the sweet sentiment. Even your embarrassing uncle Morty who got “tight” and tried to start a conga line. Actually, especially uncle Morty.
But I have no desire to get hitched. And that does not mean I think my choice is better than yours. I love the love -- I‘ve been with my guy for almost 12 years -- but the certificate and ceremony are just not important to me.
Then the other day, sitting with a family friend, I was stunned by the question, “When are you two finally getting married?”
My jaw dropped. Did she think I had been waiting for him to ask? (We propose to each other regularly, for what it’s worth). Did she think it was a reflection of a wavering commitment?
So I began with reasons people seem to want to get married (I am sure there are many I've left out):
To Be Bride and Groom: “It’s Your Day!” I have never wanted to be a bride. Say Yes to The Dress baffles me. You’d spend THAT much on something to wear for one day?
To Be Each Other’s First: Well I don’t like to kiss and tell, but when we met I was 29, he was 34. By the time we hooked up, we'd given away a not-insignificant amount of our milk for free.
Religious Tradition: We don’t need a church or synagogue to bless our union: We also come from different religious backgrounds but have no religious conviction to speak of.
The State: Currently our country doesn’t require us to get married to enjoy the privileges of a shared life. And if it did, I would be pretty incensed.
For the Family: This one makes the most sense to me. If you have a big family, it’s a beautiful gift to them to bring them all together, to create a joyful milestone so that people can say “last time I saw you was your wedding!” We don’t come from big families, and with apologies to those reading this, there is way too much drama post divorces to make the gathering of families anything less than gothic.
So That Your Kids Will Feel Secure: You'll have to take my word on this one, but I'm pretty sure our marital status is not a source of insecurity for our kid (whose only complaint could be excessive snuggling).
It's Harder to Split Up Once You're Married: If things go south to the point where we want to separate, I hope there's more than the spectre of a pricey divorce proceeding to make us seek counselling.
But here’s one thing that drives me bonkers: Sometimes on the news -- and usually when something tragic has happened -- someone’s lifelong partner is dismissed as ‘only’ common-law or ‘not actually married’. And that makes me livid. Because with all due respect for people in possession of a certificate, that’s not what marriage is.
We are in a lifelong, monogamous, committed relationship. It’s the everyday stuff punctuated by big life moments that binds you:
- When we became the first person the other called with significant news
- When we became each other’s ‘in case of emergency’
- Each time we’ve moved, packed up our belongings and set them up in a new home
- When he held my hand during the 12-week ultrasound
- When he got teary after touching my belly and feeling the first kick
- When we held our new baby in the hospital bed after he was born
- When he just let me cry when my mother got an awful diagnosis
- When he stood by my side at her funeral
- When he was never impatient as he waited for me to feel happy again
- When he made birthday cupcakes from scratch for our son’s entire Grade 1 class this week
So do I call him my husband? Sometimes. Other times partner, S/O. Occasionally -- and cheekily -- I call him my ‘babydaddy’. Sometimes it feels romantic that every time we describe each other, we are refining the term, remembering our commitment.
We share our lives, we bring each other joy and we occasionally drive each other crazy. But we are, well, married in all the ways that matter. And we choose each other every day.
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