Why I'm Not Getting Married

Life_Milestones_slide_1
When scrunchies and Spandex were all the rage, I insisted on dressing like a pint-sized, 19th-century librarian. When preppy became cool, I switched to a grunged-up pair of overalls. I was the only kid in my class to not get my driver’s license at 16. What I’m getting at here is this: I’ve never been particularly interested in doing what everyone around me is doing. This year, everyone I know is doing Marriage. It reminds me of 1997 — the only difference being that my cash and weekends are going to nuptials instead of Bat Mitzvahs.
Advertisement
Of the 12 weddings my partner and I have been invited to this year, only one couple has been together longer than we have. This prompts many folks to ask the good ol’ FAQs: “What’s wrong?”, “When WILL you get married?”, “But, why NOT?”, and “Your wedding isn’t about you; it’s about your friends and family,” which isn’t even a question.
My partner, Mark, and I love each other endlessly, and we have since I was 21 (practically a zygote). But, remember: Like snowflakes, every relationship is different. When acquaintances assume that our non-married status means there’s something wrong with our relationship, it's just as harsh as if we claimed they need that piece of paper to keep from running for the hills.
Mark and I will probably never get married. I’m relatively certain there will always be something we’d rather spend our time, money, and energy doing together, instead of crafting and executing a strategically non-religious ceremony or having to explain to irritated loved ones why we eloped without telling them. (Of course, there’s always the possibility that by 2034 marriage will be seen as a bizarre and outlandish custom, in which case, yes, I'm pretty sure I'll want to do it.)
While I understand that my getting married wouldn’t hurt anyone — it would likely make my few conservative relatives breathe a sigh of relief — that just doesn’t seem like enough of a reason to do it. Mark and I are in a legally recognized domestic partnership; we have civil rights, are each other’s next of kin, and can even get a joint insurance plan. We don’t belong to a religion, so there are no ceremonial traditions to uphold or texts to recite. We’ve been sharing a home for six years and have no need for more dishes. Despite my childhood sartorial choices, it’s not the 19th century; the U.S. has been dowry-free for decades. As for the “Your wedding isn’t about you; it’s about your friends and family” argument: If not having a wedding is the most selfish thing I ever do, I think I'm doing okay.
Life_Milestones_slide_2
Advertisement
Then, there’s the niggling political concern. Mark is a dude, but a few years back I was in love with a woman. I could easily have ended up with her for the long haul. Should I disregard that fact and instead jump right in to accept all that heterosexual privilege has to offer me, namely this marriage business? For me, that would feel more than a little bit phony. Besides, I love the term “partnership” — despite it driving people toward incessant clarification. (“Just so you know, she means her male partner, who’s a man.”) I love having one term for both of us; we’re equalized as “partners” rather than differentiated as “husband” and “wife.” Plus, word nerd that I am, I can’t quite shake the old Dutch word wiif (translated as “babe” or “bitch”) or the Indo-European root of "wife," gwibh (meaning “shame”). And, don’t forget “husband” the verb, which means “to manage thriftily"... But, I digress.
Don't get me wrong, I love my married friends, and their marriages are wonderful — for them. Similarly, I love all my Jewish and Christian and Hindu and Buddhist friends; I even participate in a surprising amount of rituals from each of those religions. But, that doesn’t mean I belong to one of them. My religion is The Amelia Thing, and my “marriage” is The Mark and Amelia Thing, and (sorry, Grandma) nobody else is invited.
The fun part about meeting your partner at such a young age is that you’re going to change so much over the years, and all you can hope is that the changes bring you closer together. Mark has stood by me for disasters large and small: when a close relative was locked in a psych ward, when Internet criminals stole $4,000 from me, when I thought I was pregnant, and when my little brother threw up all over our apartment. I, in turn, stood by Mark when he lost a friend, an uncle, a cousin, and his dogs — and when he got a little too into yoga. When he told me he wanted to go across the country for three months to get a pilot’s license, I said, “I’ll be here when you come back.” When I was debating whether to leave him for my best friend, Mark said, “I want you to do what makes you happy.” I stayed.
We're sticking it out in unmarried-land, and that's actually not surprising, or even a big deal, to those who truly know us. Yes, some of our motives for doing so are cynical. But, in the end, it’s the romantic reasons that have the staying power. There’s no sense in setting a date to sign a paper and give a spiel that means we’ve chosen to be together forever, because we wake up every day and make that choice. On our seven-year anniversary this month, Mark and I will choose to be together for the 2,557th time. It’s not marriage — but it feels pretty damn special to me.


Want more? Get all the latest on sex and relationships, health news, fitness trends, and more over at the Refinery29 Wellness Facebook page!
Advertisement

More from Sex & Relationships

A few thousand years ago, when Indian writer Vatsyayana was putting pen to paper and writing the text that would be known as the Kama Sutra, he couldn’t ...
No kid looks forward to getting the sex talk. It often comes with a big "ewwww" on the kid's part. You can imagine, then, how mortifying it was when my ...
This article was originally published on April 2, 2015 and has been updated throughout. Lube is a little like masturbation. It's a big part of most people...
Amber Rose doesn't do "off days." "I always feel confident," she tells us. "I never allow myself to not feel confident. I wake up and say, I’m going out ...
When it comes to penises, we’re often told that bigger is better — but in reality, that's far from the truth. In fact, studies suggest that, other than ...
I had just ended my second “serious relationship” and had been back in the usual rotation of dating apps when I met Drew*. Drew was a man that my mother ...
It probably doesn’t come as a surprise that sexting can be great for your relationship. Whether you’ve been in a relationship for a while or you’re just ...
(Paid Content) You don't need a degree in common sense to know getting involved with a coworker is a bad idea. Yet, we probably all know someone who has, ...
Heartbreak doesn’t just hurt, it often feels impossible. So many questions come along with the pain: How can I move on? How do I get through this? Will it ...
In the best-case scenario, you go on a first date with someone, and you hit it off. The chemistry is off the charts, and you're never at a loss for what to...
Sexting was never my thing, and I sure as hell never thought I would even consider cybersex. I knew myself — or at least, I thought I did. I’ll get too ...
Historically, women in West Africa have not had a voice. Men decide if their wife or wives can use birth control or have access to money; fathers decide if...
Foreplay often doesn't get enough credit — not to mention time or attention. In one study of heterosexual couples published in the Journal of Sexual ...
Aside from encountering creeps and starting conversations that just don't go anywhere, one major problem online daters face is catfishing. According to a...