As B and I venture into the next stage of our relationship many may be surprised that it is not getting married. We are instead going to start a family. While I have not had outright rude comments made towards me (ie: “That’s stupid Kristen, you should be married first.”) I have had many small comments made that I properly do not perceive as being as rude as they may be because people’s tones reflect pleasant surprise or people begin to speak about the importance of marriage in general terms therefore not speaking about me directly (or so they feel).
Some responses I get when people find out I don’t want to get married are:
“Oh?!” (surprise tone and look of confusion)
“You’ll change your mind.”
“But don’t you want to commit to your partner?”
“If you split up you won’t have the same protection or legal rights.”
*Insert another comment regarding legal things*
Probably the comment that bothers me the most is around commitment. There seems to be the belief that because I do not want to get married that I am not committed to my partner or our future relationship. This then draws the conclusion that marriage=commitment. This is all wrong. While some may have more traditional views of relationships and marriage, that does not work for me. The only outright difference between marrying and not marrying your partner is the legal document. Everything else stays the same. I still live with my partner, share finances and associated responsibilities, will raise children with my partner and care for him in sickness and in health, until death do us part etc.
In Ontario, where I live, we have laws for couples like myself and B. When we are eligible we (which is very vague as there is really no good way to determine how long we have been living together other than our word but in Ontario it is when you have lived together for 3 years or have child) we will be classified as “common-law”. Google defines common-law as:
“Common–law marriage, also known as sui juris marriage, informal marriage, or marriage by habit and repute, is a legal framework in a limited number of jurisdictions where a couple is legally considered married, without that couple having formally registered their relation as a civil or religious marriage.”
While common-law is still the government’s way of making sure every couple is married in some way it still means that without being married I and B can receive the same or similar legal rights as a married couple. This is especially reinforced when we have children. As common-law partners, we can claim each other on taxes, be on each other’s health insurance, have joint accounts and property etc. Many are concerned about the relationship breaking up and claim that being married makes that split safer in terms of dividing assets etc. According to Your Legal Rights, common-law partners go through the same process as a married couple minus they do not need to get a divorce as it is the divorce that ends the marriage. Divorce-Canada also has good information on common-law relationships and separation.
So, why do I not want to get married?
- I do not feel that marriage is needed in my life and relationship.
- I do not support the patriarchy that marriage was first conceived from.
- I do not want to be legally tied to someone.
- I have the choice.
There is a TedTalk that speaks very well to some of my reasons for not wanting to be married.
I am NOT against marriage!!!!!! I am always happy for friends, family and others who get married and I do love going to weddings. Not being married is my choice and my relationship is just as valid. It is about B and I being happy with our relationship in whatever shape it comes to be.