Marriage vs. Living Together...

terissdMay 27, 2004

What are the pros & cons for living together vs. marriage? I moved in with my boyfriend nearly four years ago, assuming we'd get married eventually and now I'm wondering if that will ever happen. (my mistake right?) My boyfriend won't even discuss it, he just clams up whenever I bring it up. I guess I should just get up the strength to move out. I'm not a young kid anymore. I have my first grandchild and I sure don't like the idea of "grandma living with her boyfriend". I hope I'm not being childish but I'm nearly 50, I feel too old for this boyfriend/girlfriend stuff. I was married for 27 years unil my husband ran off with a 21 year old. We had a rotten marriage but there's something comforting about having a spouse.

What do you all think????

I don't even know what forum to hang out in, I'm not exactly single and I'm sure as heck not married!

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Hey Teri! Well I read here sometimes, wondered if I was technically "single-enough" to be hanging out here too - until yesterday that is. I just broke up w/ bf of 3 years, we didn't live together though, so maybe that made me feel a little more single.

I think it sounds like you both want different things, you: marriage him:live-in girlfriend. I don't have much advice, but I think personally if I lived w/ someone for 4 years and they still didn't want to take that next step (and I did), it would be hard to stay. You can spend forever hoping and thinking he'll change, or you can give him an ultimatim, your needs are important too. I think you should tell him what you need/want or that you're going to have to move on. I don't think that will be easy for you. It wasn't for me, I should have moved on a long time ago too. Live and learn!

Hope you get some better advice than this! lol! Oh, and I don't think anyone here would care if you were married even, I know I wouldn't, it's a free country!


    Bookmark   May 28, 2004 at 2:55PM
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Dear Teri,
I'm 40 something and have been single all my adult life. Over the years I've notice the phenomenon of single men in their 50s avoiding marriage. They are set in their ways by this time, and mostly I think they just don't want to step up to that level of responsibility and the emotional entanglements that go along with it. I don't think there is much impetus for them to change, as there is always a fresh supply of willing women who will settle for the limited goods they have to offer (better than nothing). The real question is do you want to settle for what he can give, or would you rather be on your own. Only you know the answer. But don't fool yourself that he will ever walk you down the aisle if he has fallen into the perpetual slacker mode. It is so much easier to go on with the comfortable situation than to suffer the pangs that go along with change. I suppose it could happen that he undergoes a major values shift, but I haven't seen it happen very often. Usually it is just more of the same with these guys indefinately, they are addicted to their behavior and masters of manipulation.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2004 at 3:55PM
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Remember what Ann Landers used to say "Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free." Sometimes she's right. Of course, when we were 20, we laughed. What's the other one, "are you better off with him or without him."

In my case, without.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2004 at 8:06PM
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Move TOTALLY out of the situation and TOTALLY IGNORE him - he'll come around in a hurry when he discovers that someone else might win you. Then you have to make the decision: how many times will I go thru this before I finally have had enough. He will beg, cry, call (don't answer the phone - let the answering machine take all calls), email (ignore them), send cards (toss them or save them for future reference), ask about you (warn your mutual friends that death is the penalty for giving him information). Whether there is someone new OR NOT, make him feel there is. He's playing you (been there, done that - was played for 16 years myself), and turn about is fair play.

He needs a good solid six months to miss you and realize what he gave up by not making a permanent committment. When he puts a three-carat ring on your finger, asks you to walk down the aisle with him and both of your names are on all possessions, then you have something to work with.

DO NOT live together again UNTIL he walks down the aisle with you, and all the above conditions have been met. Move in only after he and you have signed the marriage license and the deed of trust. If he won't then you don't!

    Bookmark   May 29, 2004 at 12:44AM
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Teri, I'm not single but have been here a few times. I've been welcomed at one time, so I hope I'm not poking my nose in where I'm not wanted, now. It's kind of ironic that I am just reading this since I haven't been to this forum in months. I was just talking to my son today about the mistake I feel that many women make today by living with their boyfriends. I too, believe that once they have all of the advantages of living with a woman, many of them don't want to get married because of the possible entanglements down the line. They can have their maid, companionship etc., so why sign those papers and make them legally committed in so many ways?
I too, believe that you should tell him that if he is not committed enough to marry you, then you aren't going to live with him. I hope it works out.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2004 at 1:32AM
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I'm quite a bit older than 50, and I'm quite comfortable with the idea of living together, having been married and been a de facto in my time, and been on both sides of the door, so to speak.

I think it's impossible to really get to know somebody until you've lived with them for at least a year - after the honeymoon period is over. That's when they relax and show their true colours. And that's why so many people will say that their partners 'changed after we got married'. They didn't change - they were just acting before, then the mask fell off after a while. Nobody can live a lie forever. So living together is a good opportunity to learn about a person as they really are, and also an excellent way of really exploring your own feelings towards that person without making that 'ultimate commitment'.

As any of us who are divorced can tell you, marriage does not offer security in any guise, so really there's not much point in it. The only real difference between marriage and living together is a piece of paper, when you think about it, and that paper is worthless once the relationship falls apart. You get much the same legal 'protection' whether married or de facto.

It's only once you've been married that you realise it's no big deal. Whether you live together with that piece of paper in the drawer, or whether you live together without it, life is exactly the same, or to put it another way 'you still have to wash his smelly socks!'.

Teri, if your partner doesn't want to get married and you do, you have a huge difference between you, and it wouldn't matter what you did. Men are much slower, more so as they get older, to make that final commitment than women. I wonder if you stopped pressurising him whether he'd relax and put more into the relationship. Nobody likes to feel pressured to do anything, especially if they feel its a threat to their way of life. You could take this situation two ways. One, he's already committed all he has to commit and doesn't want to change the status quo. Two, his reluctance to marry you is a sign the relationship has hit the rocks.

If you are otherwise satisfied with your life together, accept what he has to offer and don't demand any more. It could work out very well for you both. But if your aim in life is just to get that piece of paper, you've got the wrong man. In your shoes, I'd back off, accept what you have (if it's good), continue as you are, and don't rush into making decisions you might regret. Don't burn your bridges.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2004 at 2:50AM
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Daisy and Teri, I'm offering a contrary opinion.

Marriage is not to be taken lightly, which your SO is communicating to you. It *is* more than a piece of paper, it is also working together through the stuck points, which you clearly seem to be in. In any relationship, there are going to be phases where the relationship seems to "fall apart". If you pick your marriage partner carefully in the first place, that means you will have selected someone who also values resolving differences--even when it is hard work. This guy is telling you loud and clear that you picked the wrong guy if you want marriage.

I disagree about living together. People show their true colors over time whether you live together or not. It requires patience and letting things unfold naturally, not jumping into [pseudo]"commitment" and then expecting the other person to change. If the other person truly respects and values you, they will also respect and value your desire to live separately unless married. If that person is worth marrying, they will honor this and you will keep your integrity.

The time to explore your own feelings about the other person is *before* cohabiting. Why would you move in with someone if you don't know who they really are? Desperation, perhaps? [I'm offering this as a general observation, not personally asking you to justify anything, Teri. I hope you understand the difference.]

I agree with Ginger and momj47. When you say "there's something comforting about having a spouse," you seem to be referring to convenience (which is not something to base a marriage on!). If I have assumed incorrectly and it's not convenience, perhaps you might consider just what that "something comforting" is? Is it being able to avoid your fears of being alone? Something else?

You asked about the pros and cons... IMO, a woman sacrifices her self-esteem, opportunities to grow as a person, and the richness of self-discovery, not to mention time and energy when she lives with a man outside of marriage.

It's curious that you're thinking of the message you're sending your grandchild, but not your child.

Food for thought....

    Bookmark   May 31, 2004 at 9:57AM
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Thanks for all for those insightful comments. It's not that "piece of paper" that I'm longing for. It just makes me sad to think I may never be married again.... I look around and everyone I know is married; all my friends, my co-workers, family. There must be some reason people do it.
I'm pretty tired of saying "my boyfriend". I feel too old to be using this phase and I know it always makes people raise an eyebrow.
My three children are all grown and married themselves so I'm not too worried about what they are thinking. They love the guy. Don't get me wrong, I love him too and he's a great person. Not at all a slacker, he's a hard worker and owns his own home, etc. I think he's just been single for so long that he's in a comfortable zone. Of course, I wish I never would have moved in. It makes it SO hard to pack up and move out. I could probably handle this "boyfirend/girlfriend" thing if I was in my own home.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2004 at 10:33AM
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I don't understand marriage. Opportunity and self-respect?... what do you do... shoot your husband and mount his head in the livingroom?

And selecting partners... how many choices do we really have. Not like buying a vehicle where you choose the size, color, and options.

Living together seems to address the fun of being together while the glow lasts. Marriage should be something more final and lasting but we all know the common end to that fairy tale.

Suppose I'm just a bitter old man.


    Bookmark   May 31, 2004 at 4:40PM
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Never having done either (but watched plenty of both in friends and family), my take on it is mostly theoretical, but I think the pros and cons depend a lot on your personal attitude, desires, and expectations.

Living together outside of marriage may be detrimental to a woman's self esteem if what she really wants is marriage and she's "settling" for what she sees as less, but if living together is what she wants, that will not hurt her self esteem.

There are legal protections and responsibilities that come with marriage. After a long enough time living together, some of them may apply to you in that case as well, whether you realize it or not, but not all of them. These may or may not be very important to you. Some of the legal protections may have very real and significant impact on your lives (being legal next of kin, for example). Is this a pro or a con? Depends on your personal situation. If you want to ensure your estate goes to your children after death, or don't agree with your SO on the value of extreme measure to prolong life, this may be a con. Most people tend to view it as a pro, if they are truly sharing lives.

Security? Comfort? My mother has been living with a man and helping to raise his children for about 13 years now. She was married to my father for about the same amount of time. Was she more secure or happier with the marriage? The divorce would suggest not. My father cheated. I'm quite sure her current "boyfriend" does not. Wedding vows, in and of themselves, are not really worth much. Someone who takes them seriously doesn't really need them (will behave honorably anyway), someone who does not, well, the vows are easily ignored.

Marriage in many cases also has religious significance. If you believe that "declaring your love before God" is important, then it is. This may be an important "pro" for marriage, or not, depending on your personal beliefs.

You don't really seem to know yourself why marriage is important to you. "I look around and everyone I know is married. There must be some reason people do it". Hardly a ringing endorsement. Can't say I blame boyfriend for not taking you too seriously if you can't articulate to him why you want it and why it's important.

On the other hand, if he truly refuses to discuss the subject, and it is clear that it's important to you, that's a huge problem in and of itself. When you care for someone, you don't refuse to discuss things that are important to them.

Boy, that was a rather long-winded way to say "it depends", wasn't it?

    Bookmark   June 2, 2004 at 11:15AM
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Michael, would you care to elaborate further?? :o)

"I don't understand marriage. Opportunity and self-respect?... what do you do... shoot your husband and mount his head in the livingroom?"


    Bookmark   June 2, 2004 at 1:56PM
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Hi, all Since a lot of discussion is going on here (usually too quiet here ) I just wanted to jump in. I'm 38, female. I lived with my ex husband before the marrige about 8months, I was 22 then. Was married for 10years and been single about 6years. At this point I probably would not just live togeather with a man unless I'm married. But I'm not even sure why I think that way...LOL. I kind suspect it's my age and pride for myself, but off course I wonder what kind pride do I have? I don't even have A BOYFRIEND!!
But for some reason I wish I was married.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2004 at 4:34PM
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I think living together at my age (65) might be a better idea than it would have been when I was young. I know a couple that I think have a good arrangement. They are older, late 60s and have lived together for over 5 years. She has her own room and he has his own room. They go places together, trips, movies, shopping, vacations, etc. She pays for her things and he pays for his things. She bought the car and he pays the insurance. It is his house and she takes care of the housework and any cooking that they do but they often go out to eat, certain nights of the week they go to one place or another. They often go to visit his children and theier families or her children and their families. I think that is a good arrangement and they seem to be enjoying it.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2004 at 5:04PM
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If it being married to the person you are living with is important to YOU, then that is all that matters. Did you discuss the possibility of getting married down the road before you moved in? Or did you assume it would eventually happen?

I don't have any opinions about whether or not people should be married to cohabitate, particularly if they have no children or have grown children. It seems like a deeply personal decision to me.

If it makes you feel less valued in your live-in relationship to remain unmarried then that is reason enough to move out. Ultimatums and games never make relationships better.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2004 at 1:15AM
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Teri, what I call "slacker" guys are often extremely hard working, industrious, go getters, in every area except the emotional one. Emotional slackers are what they are. They will work for hours on your car, your porch, your toilet, your lawn, but are just at a loss when it comes to doing "relationship work." My brother is a prime example of this, he is a musician who practices for hours but doesn't have much patience for high stakes emotional involvement, (where pain and compromise might be involved.) That's just my observation of certain guys, I'm not saying your guy fits the mold or all guys do, or everyone is set into a mold for life. It's just my .02 cud to chew on. :-)

But I agree with the other posters, you have to be clear about why you want to be married. There does come a time in life when there are some potent financial and legal reasons for NOT getting married, as I know several spiritual, in-love couples who are not married. One woman I know refers to here love as "my fiancee." They do live seperately though, in apartments right next to each other. You might be able to live seperately but still have a life together. That's an option worth exploring, I have seen it work for several older couples I know.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2004 at 4:03PM
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My 2 cents..

I've always said if I lived with a man, I'd want my own bedroom and bathroom.
Had a married guy tell me he thinks couples should live together for 4 years before marriage because at the 3 year point they are still being polite to each other....
Never been married but have heard my married friends say: 1) they would not do it again 2) marriage is not all it's cracked up to be 3) you can't convince a never-married person that marriage is not "all that"...

You've been married before, so you do know what marriage is like. One key to unlocking why a new marriage is so important to you may be to ask yourself what you feel would be different or better or safer with marriage?

    Bookmark   June 6, 2004 at 8:40PM
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ever heard of the advice columnist Carolyn Hax?

This is why she says you should NEVER move in w/ your sweetheart UNTIL your sweetheart is your fiance, w/ a wedding date selected.

" Of course, I wish I never would have moved in. It makes it SO hard to pack up and move out."

Here is a link that might be useful: Carolyn Hax at the Washington Post--read her back columns

    Bookmark   June 7, 2004 at 6:43PM
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I have to agree with Tally Sue and Carolyn Hax - If you do want to be married, don't move in with someone hoping it will happen. Excepting the case of people who are already engaged, it seems to make it *less* likely that a marriage will ensue.

Your boyfriend is comfortable, and I can't imagine he'll ever want to get married if everything remains the same. He has little incentive. If you do want to get married, I think you need to get out of there and not come back unless you're married. Maybe he'll realize what he's lost and maybe not, but at least you'll know.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2004 at 5:46PM
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I'm very interested in this subject because I'm in a similar situation to TeriSS. I'm 50 and have been dating a guy the same age in a long distance relationship (200 miles) that I've known as a friend for more than ten years. We love, respect, and trust each other. I love his famiy and he loves mine. I don't think we're ready to move in together but at some point if the relationship develops there, we both feel this would be a logical next step. He's not afraid of commitment, he's told me that he's "found the right person," that "this is for keeps" and that he already "feels a commitment toward me and my family."

We had a discussion the other day and I said that I wouldn't move in with someone unless I'm engaged or married. He told me that he wasn't sure he wanted to get married, that he felt it was not necessary. He got me to open my mind and think about quite a few things. First of all, marriage doesn't guarantee anything except that if things don't work out, lawyers get paid a lot to sort things out. He says it's the commitment that matters, not whether or not there's a formal marriage contract. I have to say that I agree with this and am starting to see his point. I think if I was younger and planning to have kids, I'd want to insist on a marriage, but at age 50 and older, I'm not really sure there are any real benefits. I would imagine you could make whatever legal agreements regarding real property and medical next of kin and so on without a marriage license. So I'm wondering now if he might be right.

For me it's not a religious issue. I know that "security" is an illusion. I just guess I'd feel more valued and appreciated and trusted if someone took that leap of faith and married me. I don't want to get into a nasty mess if things don't work out. I was through one divorce more than 20 years ago and it cost $250, we exchanged lists and it was very simple. However it still was painful and the untangling of two lives and moving apart was very hard. I don't think a marriage licence guarantees at all that this thing won't happen, and your partner or spouse's inclination to up and leave, have an affair, or whatever, is only as strong as their commitment to you, whether you're married or not.

So I'd appreciate batting this around a little bit more here in the forum. I'm trying to see both sides of this coin. I think if your goal is to force someone to marry you then that advice columnist's suggestions are probably right. But if your goal is to have a good relationship regardless, then maybe forcing the issue wouldn't be the right thing to do. Just a thought.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2004 at 3:47PM
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I just reread my post and it looks like we've been "dating" for ten years...we haven't. We've been friends for 10 years and have only been in a romantic relationship for six months, seeing each other only about a week per month. So this is why we're not really ready yet for moving in together, we'd like to take more time.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2004 at 3:49PM
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My conscience would bother me if I lived with someone in a romantic relationship without being married. Call me old-fashioned or principled if you wish. Things certainly have changed since I first dated and married thirty years ago.

Help me understand this. Do people now look at the other person as disposable? Replaceable? Is it too much work to make a relationship work when things get rocky? Just why have the divorce and cohabiting rates sky rocketed? What has made it more socially acceptable?

    Bookmark   June 19, 2004 at 10:43PM
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The divorce rates haven't skyrocketed. They're about the same as they have been for decades. It's about fifty to sixty percent. Plus second marriages tend to fail more often than first ones. I do think that a lot of people don't take their vows seriously or commitment seriously in many cases. Or, in my specific case, I was not going to live with a spouse who abused me, so I left (after trying counseling, which he refused). I don't think people should stay in a bad marriage or relationship come hell or high water. If my spouse cheats on me, I'm not sticking around, and there's a lot of that going on today, too. So I don't think the "disposable" person theory is always valid as a reason why people split. A lot of times they split for extremely valid reasons that they don't want to "work out."

Which is why I think it's good to have this discussion. I'd really like to examine the real pros and cons of getting married vs. living together for people post-childbearing age in a constructive way. Let's play devil's advocate and really look at it. What is the case for being married? What is the case against it?

    Bookmark   June 20, 2004 at 8:59AM
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I've been denied jobs because "married guys are more stable". Promotions and overtime are often offered to married guys first because, "they need the money". Married people get the biggest scoop out of the benefits bin at work. When I was in the military married people were flat out paid twice as much and given better living quarters.

It is a vicious cycle as the loss of opportunity make a young man less able to marry. Even just living together in what looks like a marriage gives a huge boost in social status. One of the cruel twists of life is that when I'm in such a relationship women see the status and flock around me with romatic interest in their eyes but when I'm living single and available the dating world seems like a vast dry desert.

: )

    Bookmark   June 20, 2004 at 12:28PM
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Original poster here... I live with my boyfriend and am not comfortable at all, even after 3+ years. I'm trying to work up enough courage to move out. I don't want to hurt my boyfriend, I'm not rejecting him, I just need a home/space of my own.
Here are some of the things that make me feel uncomfortable about this situation:
The house and all furnishings are his, when we have a disagreement or fight, I wonder if he's going to throw me out.
I know he plans to leave this house to his son so I know it will never really be my home. I feel like I'm only here temporarily.
If we were living in "my" home, I'd feel so much safer and more comfortable.
Even after living together for 3 1/2 years, he still introduces me as his girlfriend and it makes me feel very insignificant.
I'm good enough to be his girlfriend but not his "wife"!?!?!
I have a grandson who's a toddler and I don't want future grandkids to say "grandma lives with her boyfriend".
I know a lot of women would be completely comfortable in this situation but I have a confidence problem,so this really bothers me.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2004 at 1:37PM
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I think these are very valid reasons, TeriSS. I'm conflicted about the whole thing myself so it's interesting to hear different points of view.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2004 at 4:23PM
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I have very strong views about not living together before each his/her own, but I personally won't move in with my fiance until after the wedding (we've been dating for 7 yrs now, and are getting married on Sept. 4). I think marriage means what you want it to mean, and to me (and my fiance) it means a lasting commitment (ie, we vow to make it work "until death do us part") that is entirely different than "just being roommates". To us, marriage is very important (that "piece of paper" is very significant to us), but we realize it may not be to other people, and that's okay too, as long as we do what's right for *us*.

Part of our decision came from watching our friends - people who tend to be open to living together first also tend to be more open to divorice, and honestly, all but one couple we know who lived together first have been divoriced at least once, some twice. Of the couples we know who didn't live together, all are still together even though they've gone through some pretty rough times (and worked through it, remaining committed and are doing better for it), which is a pretty convincing argument to us.

The article I've linked to below is very interesting - about how a couple who expected that nothing would change after marriage because they had lived together, actually found that it still changed a lot, and not for the better. Interesting reading - check it out.

In any case, I just wanted to say good luck with your decision - I know if I *were* living with someone, it would be *very* hard for me to make the decision to leave if marriage weren't in the offing, so I can only imagine how torn apart you are on this...I do hope everything works out for you. :-)

Here is a link that might be useful: Article on a couple on MSN today

    Bookmark   June 21, 2004 at 1:53PM
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Hi y'all,

I haven't check in here for a while, so I don't "know" most of you, but I'm in a similar situation as TeriSS only flip-flopped. Here's my story....I met my SO about 1 1/2 years ago when he was in the middle of a divorce and he moved in in December after it was finalized. I'm 42, never married, no children and financially secure (own the home we live in, have investments, etc). He's 43, divorced, has two grown sons, a DIL and a year old granddaughter. He left his marriage with virtually nothing and could just barely make ends meet. We've talked a little about marriage, mostly in terms of "someday" and I think I'm dragging my feet far more than he is. I spent 20 years working very hard to get where I'm at today (financially) and don't want to risk losing it in a divorce. He understands my position and does not have any problem with a pre-nup. I need to see an attorney sometime soon to have a will drawn up and will probably seek his or her advice regarding the legal/financial aspects of the relationship. We keep our money separate and I take care of all of the expenses related to the house (mortgage, taxes, repairs) and my personal expenses. He pays me a flat agreed upon amount each month for food and the average increase in utilities since he moved in and he takes care of all of his personal expenses. For me, it's no more expensive to have him here than if I were alone. For him, he saves about $500 a month on rent that he can spend elsewhere. Do I feel used?? Absolutely not -- I'm the one who has dictated how all this will work. I take care of the laundry and most of the cooking and he takes care of minor repairs (labor -- he's mechanically inclined) and the yard.

As for the emotional aspects, he absolutely adores me, treats me better than any of the men in my past and we've grown quite comfortable and close (although I kept my emotional guard up for a long time!!). I have an excellent relationship with his children, they respect me and appreciate the happiness I've brought to their dad's life. I do believe in marriage, but I don't feel like I HAVE TO be married to feel secure and happy. Right now, we're happy with the way things are.....two or three years from now, we might feel different. If that day comes, we'll either get married or go our separate ways. I do believe that marriage is important if there are young children involved and I realize that eventually, we will need to deal with the questions from the grandchild (and future grandchildren). In all honesty, we probably will get married in the next few years, but I was single and lived alone for a long time so I need to get use to the idea. But, I can certainly understand the problems with how to refer to each other. Using the terms "boyfriend" and "girlfriend" at our ages does feel funny and "significant other" is such a mouthful. Although we both get a good laugh when strangers refer to us as Mr. (my last name) or Mrs. (his last name). I'm to the point that when a salesclerk or some stranger refers to him as my husband, I don't even bother correcting them anymore -- takes too long to explain.

Teri, you need to do what's best for you, but be sure you've thought it thru completely. When I was in my late 20's and early 30's, I dated a man (not living together) for over five years. I was wanting a commitment (either marriage or living together) and gave him an ultimatum. He said no, that he didn't love me or want a commitment with anyone and we split up and never saw each other again. Funny thing is....he stills calls every couple of years and wants to see me -- I tell him no, that he had over five years to decide how he felt about me and if he didn't want and love me then, he's not going to now either. Years ago, I thought I had lost him, but now, I think he was the one who lost out on someone.

Good luck and I'm sorry I was so long winded!!


    Bookmark   June 21, 2004 at 2:33PM
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"The article I've linked to below is very interesting - about how a couple who expected that nothing would change after marriage because they had lived together, actually found that it still changed a lot, and not for the better. Interesting reading - check it out."

Jamie, with all due respect, I'm not sure that you can guarantee that things won't change for you (or for other married people who never lived together) after getting married.

I think it's a myth that people who decide to live together are necessarily any less committed than those who decide to marry. Otherwise divorce statistics wouldn't be what they are. I'm not defending living together, I just don't understand the smugness some people seem to feel that marriage is going to solve everything or is a guarantee that it always means "forever." It doesn't.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2004 at 6:09PM
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Here's a good site I found on legal protection, whether through prenups or agreements reached between the unmarried. It's by Nolo Press, sort of a do-it-yourself legal resource.

Here is a link that might be useful: Marriage and Living Together - Legal resource

    Bookmark   June 21, 2004 at 6:12PM
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Okay - I anxiously read the linked article, hoping it would help me *take a stand* on this issue too. But, I am surely disapointed ... what does the article have to do with pros/cons of living together before marriage (or not)??? Or how it negatively affects a future *formal committment* of marriage???

Several months ago I made an offer of living together to my bf due to his financial difficulties. He declined (whew), also believing that this step shouldn't be made only over finances. I still think that if our relationship continues to grow, living together w/o the committment of engagement/marriage is an option. Even though I would, of course, be hoping that it would progress to that...

I lived with my ex-hubby for a couple years before we married. I don't believe our divorce was, in any way, related to our living together beforehand. The situation that arose (causing our divorce) could not have been anticipated - nor could it have been avoided/improved had we never lived together previously. I don't remember any significant changes when we made the step from partners to spouses ... the same difficulties we had previously were still there - and new ones arose just like they do throughout life. Things change. The couple from the MSN article seemed to deny that they should. There's more than folding towles and planning events in a marriage - and I'm gonna bet we didn't get the full story on this one. I'm a firm believer that the committment to secure a marriage (under most circumstances) has more to do with the heartfealt committment each individual person makes at that moment than anything else. Either you got it it in you, or you don't - and I don't see how living together prior has any affect on that ... And I should say that even if you-got-it-in-you, some situations can make the best person change their mind ...

    Bookmark   June 22, 2004 at 9:48AM
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I certainly didn't mean to imply that things won't change for us when we get married - I know for a fact that they will...just pointing out that things change when people get married whether they live together or not, and many people think living together will "solve" that little problem, even though it really doesn't.

You're right - it's all about commitment, and how strong that committment is. Aside from physical abuse, my fiance and I are committing to be married *for life*, even if that means that some day we wake up, can't stand each other, and decide to live in separate parts of the house for the rest of our lives. We are not taking this lightly in the least - we fully understand the committment we are making, and will go to *every* effort to make it work (which is why we waited 7 yrs just to get engaged). I realize that's not a popular opinion these days, and that people are no longer willing to go "to any length" to stay together, but that's what we both understand that we are committing too, and what we are planning for (including a huge house where we can avoid each other if necessary). Honestly, I think that attitude will be more of a "saving grace" than anything else in our marriage - because we know that we are "stuck" with each other no matter what happens, we might as well try to get along, no matter what the circumstances.

Like I said, to each his/her own - by all means, do what you are most comfortable with. This is just my opinion...I certainly don't expect everyone (or most people) to agree with me. :-)

    Bookmark   June 22, 2004 at 11:12AM
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I don't think I'd commit to stay in a loveless marriage just so I can say I did it "no matter what." That would really be sad and pointless, to me. Life is too short for that.

Also, the original poster and I are 50 years old, and at this age, we don't necessarily have the luxury of dating for 7 years to figure out if we want to marry somebody (or live with them). I definitely feel these marriage vs. living together issues are very different for someone 25 or even 30, than for someone 45 or older.

Not to put down your opinions, I just think they're a little overly optimistic, and you don't know, maybe ten years down the road if you and your husband find yourself at constant loggerheads or never speaking to each other, you might change your mind, as well. There's also no guarantee that a spouse won't just up and leave you for no reason, as has happened to quite a few of my friends. A lot of people end up losing spouses through affairs, and this is also something you can't predict ahead of time. Virtually nobody goes into marriage thinking theirs is going to break up, yet 50-60% still do.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2004 at 2:02PM
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Another point on a comment you made, Jamie:
"just pointing out that things change when people get married whether they live together or not, and many people think living together will "solve" that little problem, even though it really doesn't."

I think the issue being debated here is not whether living together BEFORE marriage is necessarily good or bad. It's whether living together BY ITSELF is a tenable option to getting married at all. For someone 50 years old.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2004 at 2:09PM
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I happen to agree with Jamie for the most part. Speaking generally, the people I know who live together are looking for fun, companionship, support, but not necessarily in it to the end. I do think there's something profound about standing in front of your dearest friends and relations and publically declaring your intention to love and honor a person for the rest of your lives.

Now, that's not to say that some people don't have the same commitment without marriage. I simply observe that, in my experience, it seems to be less common. Obviously, other people judge by their own experience.

I also think that there's generally a different focus when a couple lives together and when they marry. Again, it's not true for everyone, but I notice that many people who live together don't share money, but divide the bills in some manner. They don't make serious money decisions together, such as whether John should buy a new car, or how to fund their parent's end of life care. Making important decisions together forges a bond between couples that reinforces their life as a married couple. It can cause terrible arguments, but if both parties fight fair, they eventually end up closer.

But there's another, even more important difference. I observe that in many living-together couples, one of the partners wants to be married, and the other "isn't sure" or "isn't in a commitment place right now." So the wants-to-be-married partner decides that if they live together, the unwilling partner will eventually come around.

Which often doesn't happen. The unwilling partner now has many of the benefits of marriage without having to make a public commitment, so becomes *less* willing to get married. And the partner who wants to be married gets more and more frustrated. I see this happen over and over.

Now, if two equals - especially older ones with their own families and own money - *both* not wanting to get married, decide to live together, more power to them.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2004 at 2:15PM
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The OP sounds like she *wants* to get married though, and seems to be deciding between moving out and staying, and how that will or will not get her closer to marriage, and if she can deal with it if it never does. So I still think the whole living together or not before marriage debate is valid for her, because she needs to know what she's in for if she stays...whether or not that will bring her closer to marriage, and what exactly it is she can live with. I could be wrong, of course...

Another thing that colors my bias though is that I *like* living alone and being independant - I always have. The hardest (and scariest) part of getting married for me will be adjusting to living with another person - I've never even had a roomate since moving out of my parent's house and buying mine. So for me, living together with no hope of marriage would not be an option *at any age* way would I give up having my own house, my own money, sole ownership of the remote, absolute control of all decorating issues, my own bathroom, etc unless the other person was committed enough to marry me in front of the whole world and make it legal and binding. If I'm going to share that much of my life with another person, I need *proof* of that committment, not just "his word". My fiance reprogrammed my remote the other day, and I let it go, knowing it was a very small compromise, and one of many I'll have to start making very soon, but it was sad too. LOL

So to the independant are you? Do you think you would like having your own space, your own time, and living independantly enough to just move out if your SO won't marry you? Some people do, some people don't, but that could be a significant factor in your decision...if you're one of those people who doesn't like to be alone, then living together "indefinately" may be what's best for you mentally over the long run. But you will have to let the idea of marriage drop if you do that, I'd think...

    Bookmark   June 22, 2004 at 4:04PM
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"no way would I give up having my own house, my own money, sole ownership of the remote, absolute control of all decorating issues, my own bathroom, etc unless the other person was committed enough to marry me in front of the whole world and make it legal and binding."

But the point is, this is still no guarantee that you're not going to split up. I think this is the thing you aren't understanding. It's like you want a guarantee, but a marriage license isn't a guarantee. At all.

And if you go to the link I cited above, you can make legal agreements regarding property and so on even if you're just cohabiting.

I'm just playing devil's advocate here. I'm still not seeing concrete pros and cons discussed here, just romantic notions about what marriage is and what it isn't. It is NOT a guarantee, despite the ceremony in front of friends and family. People keep making this assumption and it's just not so.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2004 at 5:22PM
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I haven't seen anyone here who argued that a married couple would never split up. Marriage is no guarantee. I'm saying that marriage is *different* than living together. Each person is free to decide whether that means living together is better or worse than marriage for himself or herself.

And about the ceremony in front of friends and family - again, no guarantee. Just important to many people. And, I think, has some effect other than just a piece of paper, as many argue.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2004 at 9:20AM
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Retroactive- So true, so true ....

There are only a few absolutes in life. Even us with the most committment and Faith are fequently surprised by turns in the road.

TerriSS - since you're so uncomfortable, I would expect that you gotta at least "give it a break". Leaving a long term relationship is hard in any case - especially when you love the other person. I wish you luck in taking steps to resolve your dilemna. Wish I could add some pros/cons to your initial question, but I'm struggling with the same thoughts. I too am a bit sad when I think there's a chance that I'll never marry and wonder if I'll be happy with something different. One thing that doesn't bother me (as it does you) is being called "girlfriend". I adore it! But, that's coming from a gal who's last two long-time *partners* never would say it - saying that they too hated how it sounded, so they just said nothing - never indicating any sort of relationship with me when refering/introducing me. Now THAT makes you feel insignificant.

Jamie " aside from physical abuse, my fiancé and I are committed to be married for life Â" . Well, we all draw our line somewhere  but mine would start with mental abuse  and we all have a different idea of what that is! Lots of people wait 7+ years to get married, but few plan for a large enough house to be able to avoid each other. Man, that would be a tough one for me to swallow. I know a couple with that type of commitment, and they dislike each other and their lives so much that theyÂve become obstreperous curmudgeons  running off anyone who approaches, even their kids. Anyway  IÂm certain you wonÂt end up there and that you are exaggerating. But, you should recognize that what raises eyebrows MORE than a promise to be committed to your marriage for life are the perplexing extremes that you are professing/considering. With sincere observation  joules.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2004 at 10:35AM
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joann says, "I'm saying that marriage is *different* than living together. Each person is free to decide whether that means living together is better or worse than marriage for himself or herself."

Joann, I'd sincerly like to hear your specific views about how marriage is "different" than living together (and I'm talking for couples, say, 45 plus who feel a commitment, not for people who just move in out of convenience, as a lot of not very committed young people tend to do to save $$). I'd also like to hear why you think one is better than another. With specifics. And again, it would be great if we could try to keep it pertinent to the original poster's situation. I'm serious, I'd like to hear real reasons other than just vague emotional ones, like "it's right for me."


I know that there are people who enter into serial relationships where they live with one person, break up, and then move on to another where they repeat this scenario. I don't think this is the only way people live together, though. I think this is also something you see among young people and less among grown adults, who tend to want to settle down with one person. Having watched lots of Judge Judy ;-) it seems to me that a lot of people move in for the convenience and don't have a real commitment, so these relationships never work, married or not, kids or not.

Maybe deciding not to go through with the marriage ceremony might be like couples who decide not to have children. It's not conventional but it may work for some. I'm not sure.

I know a couple who met at work when she was engaged to someone else. She broke up with her fiancee, moved in with the guy. In one month, they had bought a $350,000 house together. We all shook our heads. They lived together for 8 years. Said they didn't need to get married this whole time, but one New Year's they just did. Four years later had a son, although they thought they didn't want kids before then. Sixteen years married now and just as solid as ever. Who would have thought? The odds are so against this it isn't funny. I guess my point is that it's the commitment that matters most, and that people can change their minds for the positive or negative during a relationship. This couple just showed me that anything is possible even when the odds are overwhelmingly against it.

Regardless I still think I'd want legal papers outlining responsibilities about property, etc. So that sort of negates my boyfriend's point about his dislike of lawyers being involved. It seems that some degree of legal protection is important no matter what once you've both accumulated assets.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2004 at 11:07AM
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Well, I already spoke a bit on why I think marriage is generally better for people. Again, not attacking anyone's relationship. Just my opinions.

As I mentioned before, in my experience, people who cohabit are less likely to hash out important problems, like money, in-laws, kids, etc. People who cohabit live more separate lives than people who are married, again in my experience.

In the many couples I observe, most of whom are in middle age, they keep money separate and thus don't need to figure out how to allocate it. Many of these people spend holidays with their own families, negating the need to deal with in-laws and figuring out where to go. I see many couples where one partner has children, and the other partner simply stays out of the child rearing for the most part, thus no need to sort out their differences.

As I said, all these matters for dicussion that a married couple faces have the potential to bring them much closer as they face the world as a unit. Of course, sometimes it tears them apart. But I think you get much closer when vital matters are at stake.

I also notice that married couples are "in it to the end," and though some couples get divorced, the ones who don't become closer and stronger as time goes by. Most of the cohabiting couples I know sort of drifted together for convenience, often they say it's to cut living expenses. Though they love one another, they usually don't start out saying, "We want to be together forever, come what may." And I think that the relationships of those who make a conscious commitment to love and honor another to the end are closer for it.

I also notice that cohabiting couples are quicker to break up then married couples. According to social science research, couples living together are more likely to break up than a married couple. Because they haven't had lots of practice at sorting out difficult problems, they don't deal with it well. Plus, they're less likely to take drastic measures to try to work it out. I have never heard of a co-habiting couple going for couples counseling, though I'm sure some do, but I know many married couples who go.

When it comes to money, there's always been clear evidence that marriage raises women's financial status, partly because men still make more than women. But even more so because married couples think of "our" money, not "his" and "hers".

Many people move in together with one party wanting to marry and the other not. In this case, the odds of them actually marrying are somewhere beween 20%-35%, according to most of the social science reports. So the partner who wants to get married inadvertently does hiself or herself a great disservice by moving in.

Other people live together as a "trial marriage". But it seems to me that you can't try out marriage, because marriage necessarily involves the promise to be with one another until death. Besides, almost everyone I know who's moved in with a fiance as a trial marriage has then said that the trial was *nothing* like real marriage. Again, it's about the focus.

Finally, about the marriage ceremony and the "piece of paper," as lots of people call it. If you don't think it's important, it probably isn't, for you. For many people, though, I do think it's a symbol of the couple's intent to be committed to one another. It's a step of faith to publicly state that you're going to love another human being for 50 or 60 years.

Are there any certainties? No. I just think that you have a better chance if you start out with the highest of expectations. And speaking it in public seems important to me, something like making a promise to volunteer at a homeless shelter every Sunday, instead of a New Year's resolution to do some charity work.

Are there people whose lives are just as entwined and are just as committed as married couples? I'm sure there are. I've just never seen one.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2004 at 5:42PM
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US Divorce Statistics:
Median age at divorce:
Males: 35.6
Females: 33.2

Median duration of marriage:
7.2 years

Likelihood of new marriages ending in divorce:

Percentage of weddings which are remarriages for at least one partner:

Percentage of first marriages that end in divorce:

Percentage of remarriages that end in divorce:

Estimated average cost of divorce:

Estimated average length of divorce proceedings:
1 year

So I wonder how these statistics would compare vs. people who decide to cohabit with commitment (not cohabit out of convenience, toss those out since they're irrelevant to the discussion). I would wager that the numbers aren't too different.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2004 at 7:54AM
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Retroactive, you seem to be trying to figure this all out solely with "head knowledge" and facts...and the fact is, you really just can't. Committment between two people is not purely emotional, but it's not purely practical either - you can't just decide your life based on statistics and "fact"...sometimes you just have to go with your *gut*. There are tons of statistics out there comparing cohabitation with marriage (and marrieds who didn't cohabitate to those who did), and in most of those, cohabitating couples *always* get the short end of the stick when compared to married couples who never cohabitated. But that's why you hear most people saying that you have to choose what's right *for you* - it's not just about's about your mental and emotional well-being. The OP seems to want marriage - so she has to decide if she can deal with having no hope of marrying the man she's living with not just on a practical level, but on an emotional one as well. That's much more difficult to do than looking at a bunch of numbers.

My father was mentally abusive, and I know I can deal with that should I have to (sad but true), which is why my "line" starts at physically abusive (that was my mother's "line" to - and yes, they are still together, and have worked through thier problems, and now have a very stable marriage). Naturally, I can't *imagine* things getting anywhere near that bad with my fiance, mentally or physically, and while I know marriages do break up, I've chosen an attitude of "stick it out no matter what", because I believe that's the healthiest way to start a marriage.

I don't think you can equate choosing to live together with choosing not to have kids though - my fiance and I *have* actually chosen not to have kids, and honestly, those two decisions are very much mutually exclusive of each other, both in the process of making them and the reasons for doing so, IMO. ;-)

    Bookmark   June 24, 2004 at 11:41AM
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Jamie, with regard to your first sentence, that's not what I'm doing at all. I'm just trying to understand the reasons for getting married (or not) at age 50 and comparing them.

So far, I've seen nothing given by most posters but romantic and unrealistic fantasy about marriage without awareness that it's not "forever" at least half of the time, and a lot of misconceptions about cohabitation. We're NOT talking about people casually moving in out of convenience. We're talking about people who say they're committed and move in together. You CAN be committed without marriage. My providing the statistics for marriage only is to illustrate that it's not the panacea or utopia you and Joanna seem to think it is.

I'm too old for romantic fantasy, and I'm old enough to know that my "gut" is wrong as often as it's not. At this point, I'm interested in some substantial reasons, not optimism (or in Joanna's case, pessimsm) for its own sake.

And if you think I was equating living together without marriage with deciding not to have kids, then you missed my point.

You write: "The OP seems to want marriage - so she has to decide if she can deal with having no hope of marrying the man she's living with not just on a practical level, but on an emotional one as well."

Right...but what I'm trying to help her (and myself) understand is WHY we feel the need to "want" marriage for its own sake AT OUR AGE when maybe we need to get over that and focus on the actual relationship and commitment, and less on our own insecurities and neediness about having some title attached to our names that essentially guarantees nothing and means little other than the same kind of "promise" you could give someone without getting married. I can't see the benefit of chucking a good relationship just because the other person won't sign on the dotted line. When you get older and have fewer choices, a good relationship is something to cherish and not throw away. If she walks away from this relationship just because the other person won't marry her, maybe that's not the best way to approach it and maybe the problem is more in her perception of what a marriage license is/can offer vs. what it doesn't. I'd rather be living with someone I get along with and love than married to someone I'm not as compatible with just because they were willing to sign a document. And as far as declaring it to friends and family, well still, in half the cases this ends up meaning nothing, either. It's no guarantee, and isn't it more important that you tell each other these things and not care what other people think?

I still seem to see that the reasons given are ones rooted in security. But there is no security, in reality. It's just an illusion. The reality is the relationship and how well it works or not. Think about it, if you were on a desert island with your boyfriend, and you had nobody to marry you, would you leave and move to the other side of the island just because you couldn't get married? No. You'd live together as a committed couple. I'm suggesting that maybe today's society makes us think we should get married or need to get married, when in fact maybe we don't. Maybe it's our own insecurity and neediness and the desire to be "taken care of" that drives things more than anything else. And to me those aren't really good reasons.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2004 at 12:49PM
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But if that piece of paper is so insignificant, why won't he sign it? Shouldn't it go both ways? Why should *she* have to sacrifice something she really wants if he has that level of committment for her? What's the big deal with getting married if it's something that will make her happy, and he truely is committed no matter what? *That* is what I don't get...if it's no different to them, then why not just go for it so that everyone is happy - he gets to keep the relationship, she gets the piece of paper, no big deal.

If the piece of paper truely didn't matter to him, then he wouldn't have a problem signing it. Since he does have a problem with it, that tells me that the committment *to her happiness* isn't completely there, because he refuses to give her something that he *claims* is meaningless to him, but would mean a lot to her. And with a start like that, I'm not sure that relationship is the healthiest place for any woman to be - sometimes it's healthier to be alone.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2004 at 1:23PM
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If your logic follows, then why would anyone sign a prenuptial agreement, if they're so sure things are going to work out just fine if they're married? The reason is because IT DOES NOT WORK OUT HALF OF THE TIME regardless of how well-intentioned parties are going into it. Maybe the person who doesn't want to sign on the dotted line is a lot more realistic, thinking if it works out then we are fine, if not, then it's far less tangled and expensive than if we are married.

Most people who get married/decide to live together in their 40s and up have assets that they want to protect in case. So a prenup or agreement of cohabitation is a very good idea. However this flies in the face of the romantic notion that you go into a marraige planning for it to be forever. No, I think you go into it hoping it will be forever and working toward that, but not being blind to the fact that it's often not, and protect yourself accordingly.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2004 at 3:55PM
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Yep, I agree, which is why no pre-nups for me (and I do have a few large assets myself that will become "community property", just like my fiance has a good deal of monetary assets that will become half mine as well). It's all about different perspectives, really - I'd never sign or require a pre-nup, because I refuse to start with the idea we can "get out" without a lot of pain if we want. Some people would rather be more protective about it - thier choice. I'm not terribly young, and my fiance will be 40 before we get married, so we're not up there too far, but we're not completely without past experiences either.

Marriage should be hard to get out of, IMO...there should be serious consequences for going back on a lifelong commitment made in good faith - for both parties, since divorice is rarely the fault of just one person.

Obviously, we have two ways of looking at things - optimistic, or pessimistic (half-full or half-empty). I choose to be optimistic, obviously, choosing to believe that my marriage will be in the 50% that *don't* fail. I expect a higher level of committment and willingness to make me happy from an older man than a younger one, simply because an older man should have enough experience to know what he wants, and how to compromise for the sake of my happiness (or the health of the relationship). Having known my fiance for much longer than we've been dating, I've seen him grow from a young man with no idea what he wanted (and certainly no desire to commit to anything long-term), to a mature middle aged man who is ready to settle down, and commit to a lifetime relationship with me. Obviously not all men are like that, but that's what I know - one would hope that at age 50, a guy would be willing to commit what's left of his life (whether that be 25 yrs or another 50) to a gal without putting up too much of a fight if it meant that much to her.

It's been an interesting discussion, but we're going 'round in circles (it's obvious we're both very set in our opinions), so I'll bow out now. I do hope you've enjoyed the discussion as well, and I wish you and the original poster the best of luck in whatever you decide to do. :-)

    Bookmark   June 24, 2004 at 5:27PM
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"Obviously, we have two ways of looking at things - optimistic, or pessimistic (half-full or half-empty)"

Actually that's not true. I'm optimistic too, but I'm also a realist.

Good luck to you.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2004 at 6:14PM
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Hey, I'm going to throw this into the mix. Perhaps marriage has a spiritual aspect. Perhaps there is some benefit of having a "soul mate" and I'm not using that term in a romantic sense. A partner in life's spiritual journey. Now I know not many marriages are based on that, but I think that is one big difference between being married and "living together." If all you do is "live together" in a marriage then it is a largely purposeless formality. I've never been married, but I do have long term friendships, and a job that consumes me. In both cases, I have seen some spiritual positive aspects in sticking it out through thick and thin. It's spritual discipline, to commit to something because it represents a goal that you value. I think the reason so many marriages fail in today's society is because we have very little in the way of spiritual lives, and I'm not talking rote religion here. Most of what we concern ourselves with is of a material nature. We treat everything like an object--nature, our friends and family, ourselves. Marriage is soul work I think. At least if you want to try and be happy for a long time. Maybe what Terri is sensing is a lack of spirituality in her life overall, and I don't think marriage or no marriage is gonna solve that one, it's a systemic problem. But I still think being a good wife and being a good husband is an honorable avocation, and I don't think it is the same thing as being a tolerable housemate. And I think the contract part, and the ceremony part of marriage are all wrapped up in making it a sacred occupation of your time. Ceremony sanctifies the material and makes it profound. Modern society does just the opposite, takes the sacred and makes it profane. And the idea of "living together" is one example. Don't get me wrong, I don't think there is anything wrong with living together, and there is every reason to be skeptical that marriage, even one with all the ceremony in the world, will be a spiritual union, but that's the IDEA behind marriage. Ceremonies can help remind us of our higher goals. Sure we will fall short of them, but I am sick and tired of being told I'm some type of weirdo for thinking it is vital to have ideals. We're all accepting this spiritual numbing because we think the alternative is too scary to contemplate. And I'm not some type of religious fanatic either, I don't think you have to be religious, and we all settle and do what we have to do. But in answer to the question "Why marry?" my response would be "to join in holy union with your soul mate." :-)

    Bookmark   June 26, 2004 at 7:42PM
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Something most people I don't think get is that today's romantic notion of marrying for love is a pretty recent thing. Historically, marriage was for all intents and purposes, for most people, basically a business partnership. Two people got together and agreed to perform certain roles in the business of earning a living, keeping the home, and raising a family. Marriage for love was rare, although certainly after sharing a life for a number of years, plenty of people "grew" to love each other. Most people (especially, but not exclusively, women) didn't even get much of a choice in who to marry. The whole vow to stay married for life and be faithful was important because a woman wanted some assurance that the man would stick around for the couple of decades it takes to raise the kids, and the man wanted some assurance the kids he was sticking around to raise were actually his. People stayed married because they had to, because societal and economic pressure didn't allow them to do anything else, not because they were so much more committed to each other than we are today. All of a sudden (on a historical timescale, anyway), we find ourselves in a situation where it's economically possible to live and raise a family on your own, where we as a society have decided that it's okay to live your life according to your personal choice rather than strict societal expectations, we're living way longer than ever before, men have rights and responsibilities for their children even if not married to the mothers (and we can definitively determine if they're really the father). The traditional reasons for marriage just don't exist anymore. Now we want to marry for love, and to be and stay in love with and loved by our spouse, but yet we also want that "piece of paper" to still mean for life, even though the thing we want to last for life has changed from partnership to love. We romanticize what we think marriage should be, forgetting that it actually never has been much like that.

None of that answers marriage vs. living together. My point is the decision shouldn't have anything to do with some romanticized notion of what marriage was like a century ago, or what marriage *should* mean. Marriage doesn't mean what it used to mean, and we as a society haven't yet figured out what its new meaning is, so everyone is kinda left figuring it out for themselves. It's no surprise we're all coming up with different answers. It's just not real convenient when couples have come up with answers that don't match each other.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2004 at 8:26PM
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well said

    Bookmark   June 27, 2004 at 4:36PM
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Speaking of strangers! have you been JC?

    Bookmark   June 27, 2004 at 4:47PM
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Well Quirk, I think Lpinkmoutain has given a good blueprint for what marriage should be today. From Lpinkmountain:

Perhaps marriage has a spiritual aspect. Perhaps there is some benefit of having a "soul mate" and I'm not using that term in a romantic sense. A partner in life's spiritual journey. Now I know not many marriages are based on that, but I think that is one big difference between being married and "living together."

I'd say that's the difference between marriages that will last and those that won't. It's the spiritual component that is missing, and I also don't mean this in a specific religious worship context. That's why marriages are failing and why they have always failed throughout history: one partner enters it half-heartedly, or with financial motives, or social motives. Even when marriage was necessary for a woman's survival, those reasons were often present. Today, earning power has changed the "why" of getting married. And we are bankrupt, spiritually, as a nation. We know nothing about joining spirits. (We do a good act of "noble" in the way people shout about what they do for "their children", but that's not what I am talking about.)

The fact that the SO is leaving his house to the son speaks volumes to me. He likes things just as they are, and whether it 's an inability to trust or a desire to keep his life uncomplicated, this man is not spiritually committed. Any marriage to him has a 50-50 chance.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2004 at 7:21PM
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"Any marriage to him has a 50-50 chance."

Any marriage to ANYBODY has a 50 50 chance, though (worse for second marriages). Not to recognize this and to protect yourself in case things go wrong is to bury your head in the sand.

Think about it, if 50% of all flights crashed, and you knew this going in, would you trust the pilot without being concerned? No, of course you wouldn't. There's no magic thing that says simply because you "believe" it won't happen to you too. That's an awfully smug and naive assumption and implies that you think your love is somehow superior to someone else's just because you say so.

I also disagree that the "only" soul mates are married people. I'm not sure how anyone would go about proving this even if it were possible.

As far as the leaving the house to the son, there are different laws in different states about property. My SO and I both have property and savings at more than $1 million each. I would want to make darn sure that if things didn't work out, that we would both keep what we had going in. Not all states have this provision, I'm lucky mine does. So the house, if he owns it before marriage, is his to do with as he chooses. If he decides differently down the road, he can make that decision. But who is to say that he won't provide for her in other ways so she could buy another house if he dies? I don't think it's uncommon for people to will property or other assets to both a wife and to children, so I would not draw any conclusions about that on face value.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2004 at 8:40PM
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Wow....finally someone more bitter about marriage than I....will you marry me Retro??...At the risk of breaking the engagement I have to say that I think that analogizing a plane crash to marriage is rather weak, as if I crash chances of survival are slim....if my marriage fails, I will survive to possibly crash another day, but I will choose another pilot....some are foolish enough to continually choose a bad pilot....personally I am going to be my own pilot and not blame my problems on any one else, thank you.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2004 at 9:43PM
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I'm not bitter at all, I'm just trying to understand why it's necessary for a committed relationship. It just doesn't seem like it is, when all is said and done.

I'm sorry if you didn't understand my analogy and took it so literally. I wasn't suggesting the pilot was the husband. I was only saying that it's important to go in with your eyes open, not clouded over with some romantic notion that if you believe in Tinkerbell everything is going to be fine.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2004 at 10:05PM
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I understood that the analogy was flawed, that's all... I was pointing out....I do the same thing sometimes ,so don't look at it as calling you out because I do enjoy reading your posts....your point described is spot on the money though...please don't take any hard feelings from what I said......I've absorbed the posts on here and I'll be adding my comments soon for your own critque if youi desire.(I can take it, really)..but not tonight...the bed calls for now

    Bookmark   June 28, 2004 at 12:42AM
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Just to put it another way, just because you are aware of the risks and prepare for them doesn't mean you're any less committed than someone else who chooses to ignore them. In fact you may even be more committed because you have taken the time to understand the pitfalls and might be better able to work through the rough spots as they come up because you'll be prepared.

I just get frustrated by the implication some people make here that all you have to do is believe and have faith or some perceived "spiritual" connection and you will somehow magically fall in the 50% that doesn't split up. It ain't that simplistic, folks. Again, very few enter into marriage thinking they're the ones who won't make it all the way.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2004 at 6:44AM
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Lpinkmoutain - I very much agree. I would have said the same thing.

About the alleged 50% statistic, we only need to know how it's obtained to know how meaningless it is. The statistic came from data published by the U.S. Department of Health Statistics that showed that there are about 8 marriages per 1,000 people and 4 divorces per 1,000 people in a single year (don't remember which year, but do know the ratio has gone down a bit now). Thus, 50%.

However, this didn't take into account the 50 million or so people already married. It simply compared marriages and divorces in a one year.

And even the few statistics we have assume that all people are equal for marriage and divorce purposes. They're not. People who marry at 25 or older are more likely to stay together than those who marry younger. People who have never divorced or cohabited are more likely to stay together. People who are religious/spiritual are more likely to stay together.

Anyway, even what we know doesn't predict the outcome for any given couple. Many of us know, for example, a couple who married very early, without knowing themselves, let alone the other person, and are happlily married today, after 35 years.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2004 at 1:49PM
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How's that view from under the sand?

Seriously, if these statistics didn't scare you in some way, would you be so quick to deconstruct them based on your own situation? What is the point of denying a fact of life and trying to bend it to suit your own ends?

" People who marry at 25 or older are more likely to stay together than those who marry younger. " Actually this is not true for second marriages. I'm wondering where you got your statistics.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2004 at 9:42PM
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"People who are religious/spiritual are more likely to stay together."

But how many of these people are HAPPILY deciding to stay together, vs. just staying together for religious reasons or for "the sake of the children?"

    Bookmark   June 28, 2004 at 9:44PM
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I said that people who had previously divorced or cohabited were less likely to stay together than average. So maybe I should have spelled out, "People over 25 who have never been married before or cohabited ...?"

And all the statistics are from the Department of Health Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As far as religious/spiritual people, I've never seen statistics on who's happy and who's not. I'd expect that a slightly larger percentage of unhappy marriages would stay together, just because religious/spiritual people are more likely than the general population to believe in marriage.

From my personal experience, I also think that the religious/spiritual attitude makes happier marriage, as people have an attitude of grace and forgiveness towards one another. But I guess that's just my head in the sand. Ha!

Retroactive, I get it that nothing any of us says will convince you that marriage is better than cohabitation. As far as I can see, you haven't contributed a single iota of information or persuasion to this discussion.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2004 at 8:58AM
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gotta chime in here ...

I've enjoyed reading this thread - daily. I'm finding myself very confused at this time and reading each post gives me a little "insight" to consider. I almost always shoot from my heart, but that doesn't stop me from TRYING to think out each this situation and consider other's experiences ...

We're all different - and everyone has expressed interesting thoughts and twists on this subject. I was most "aroused" by Jamie MT's comments some surprised the heck outta me others were very enlightening. But those from Janet, Retroactive and all the rest have really been informative. I thank you all for sharing your experiences, opinions and statistical info. For some of us, the decision to cohabitate or/and marry is not so cut & dry. Sometimes I wish I had strong enough convictions that I was ensured of an answer one way or another. But I dont. I waiver back and forth daily, remembering that both conditions are governed by some amount of emotional, spiritual, intellectual and legal commitment. All being worthy of consideration.

Please keep up the debate!!

    Bookmark   June 29, 2004 at 10:54AM
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I don't think you have to marry your soul mate or even live with them, and I don't think you have only one soul mate. And spiritual is not the same thing as religion, and staying together for "religious" reasons when your marriage is bad for your soul and spiritual growth is terribly sad. It has been my observation that people who are happily married are happy with themselves and their spiritual life, and by that I mean their search for value and meaning. And I think that one arguement for marriage is that it is a vehicle for value and deeper meaning in your life. Not the only one to be sure, not always the case to be sure, but I think marriage is a contender if both partners want that. The question was "Why get married instead of living together?" and my response was that I thought marriage with all its ceremony and legality, implied a committment of a deeper spiritual level to your spouse and the life you lead together. To me it implies "I am here to be a witness to your life, a mirror." It also implies "As a spouse, you will be enough for me, so you can relax, you can exhale." Of course we all know that this rarely is the reality of marriage. But what's wrong with keeping those things as the goal. Nowdays it seems like the dominant paradigm is, "If you can't meet the standard, lower the bar!" We all fall short of the bar, but that doesn't mean the bar is not there for a reason.

I would not want to live with someone without being married to them. We could have a perfectly wonderful relationship and not have to live together. But if someone was going to be in my face at the level of living together then they will profoundly affect every aspect of my life and my spiritual journey through it. And if I'm going to do that with someone, I want legal and ethical assurances. Whether they were strictly economic deals or not, I think smart people long ago realized that living with someone and building a joint life with them profoundly affects you and if you're going to do that you should at least try to associate it with some higher purpose and some higher goals and values. Hence an institution called marriage. People nowdays think that if they just live together they can somehow keep things superficial and not have to face the implications of joining your life with another. Heck, even housemates of the same sex have great influences on each other. Many couple live together, but how many couples, married or not, build a life together? It is a very difficult task whether you are married or not, building a life. I even know some older couples who for financial and health reasons do not live together, and yet they have built a life together. I'm thinking of one couple I know who live right next to each other and have built a life that includes mutal friends, family and the whole neighborhood.

I don't know Terri's situation, but I'm wondering if what she's feeling is not so much that she'd like a piece of paper that says she is married, so much as a feeling that she has a deeper relationship with the man she is living with. She posted about how she has a nagging feeling of insecurity and I don't think she is imagining it. So the only real question is which is worse, living with a man who has no real deep committment you, or living alone without anyone at all? In both cases it requires that you become an emotional island unto yourself. Not an easy question or spiritual choice, but that which does not kill us makes us stronger, and if Terri can find the answer to that one, honey please enlighten us!!

    Bookmark   June 29, 2004 at 11:41AM
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"Retroactive, I get it that nothing any of us says will convince you that marriage is better than cohabitation."

Actually that's not true, joanne, just that you haven't convinced me that your opinion is based on anything other than wishful thinking.

I'm interested in trying to explore both sides of the issue, pro and con. I could argue both pro and con for both cohabitation and for marriage. I am not sure I could say the same for you.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2004 at 11:41AM
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Let me also add one more thing. My goal in participating in this discussion is to really explore both sides of the issue and to try to be as open minded as possible about both sides. That I might challenge one side or another should not be looked at as anything other than an opportunity for you and to me to really THINK about what we are saying. If I present an opinion and someone shoots a couple of holes in it, I want to hear what they have to say if it's grounded in reason.

I've played devil's advocate for a reason here, not to be testy or difficult, but to ask the hard questions. This is NOT an easy issue, it's not cut and dried, and it's not something that many people want or need to decide solely based on emotional reasons. If I have a problem personally with any of the posts or posters, it's because I feel they're not presenting a case one way or another, but relying on emotion or a smug notion that marraige is by nature always "better" than living together. I am not sure that is true. It doesn't mean I know it's not, it means I'm not sure and I'd really like to intelligently talk about both sides, not dismiss one or another out of hand for purely emotional reasons.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2004 at 11:49AM
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This has been an interesting thread!! I think the reason that I'm comfortable with not being married is that I've always been single (and lived alone until now -- boy, was that an adjustment -- LOL!!). Perhaps, some people who marry in their 20's then get divorced want to remarry because they miss the state of being married and feel uncomfortable being single. As for me, I've always been single so I'm comfortable in that skin. My parents are in their late 70's, been married for 55 years and although they haven't said anything, I'm certain it bothers them that their little girl is living with a man outside of marriage. However, I also know that they don't want me to risk losing the assets I've worked hard to build. I think Jamie mentioned that both she and her fiance have assets that will become community property and that's fine if both parties are on the same financial ground, but not everyone is. In my case, I have the assets, he doesn't. It would have been nice if I'd fallen for a man who was my financial equal, but I didn't -- I fell in love with a poor man, but that doesn't mean that I want to risk everything I have. It also doesn't mean that he and his kids won't be provided for in my will. If we spend the next 30 or 40 years together (whether it be married or living together), I think he's entitled to a substantial portion of my estate. Actually, any man who spends 30 or 40 years with me is probably entitled to a whole lot more than that -- LOL!! But, the simple fact is that no one knows how long a relationship will last when you enter into it (regardless of whether or not there is a marriage license). Commitment depends on the individuals, not the state of matrimony. As for us, right now we are happy, comfortable and love each other very much. I'm certainly not going to knock marriage (I may be there someday!) and I realize it's important for many people, but I don't think it's fair for anyone to question our commitment to each other simply because we don't have the license.

As for Teri, I think lpinkmountain has hit the nail on the head -- I think she's questioning the relationship and his commitment. Teri -- please check in and let us know how you're doing.


    Bookmark   June 29, 2004 at 12:09PM
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Janet, I am very glad to read your post. I am wondering if you maybe would be willing to share with us your opinions about some of the things others have assumed were "downsides" about people living together? For instance as one poster assumed about cohabitating couples, how are you going to decide whre to spend holidays? Do you think you are less likely to hash out important problems like money, inlaws, kids? How are you dealing with financial decisions, are they joint decisions or separate ones? Do you consider that you're living "separate" lives even though you're living together? Do you feel you're any less likely to be "In it to the end" than if you were married? Do you feel you are together out of convenience or out of commitment and are less likely to take drastic measures to work out problems?

Thank you, I'd really appreciate hearing what you have to say.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2004 at 12:26PM
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I don't feel like I'm in a position to dictate what's right or wrong or try to influence people one way or another, but I don't have any problem answering questions about my life. I think we live (and are looked at) more as a couple than two people living together. Our lives are pretty much one with the exception of finances and occasionally his children. When we first met, he lived and worked in a different town about 30 miles away which is also where his mother lives -- his father has passed away and he does not have siblings. I live and worked in the same town where my parents and siblings are located (I was born and raised here). Most holidays and family dinners are at my house. My sister (who is single) and I were sharing the responsibility, but since I now have this extended family, I feel like I should bear more of the burden for hosting events (although everyone brings a dish and helps out). We include both families -- my parents, brother and sister, his mother and the son that lives nearby (when he doesn't have other plans with his mother or girlfriend). My SO's mother is not in the best of health and spent some time in the hospital last year. During this time, we'd go and see her together, run her errands and I did her laundry for her. I suppose I could have said, "She's your mother, you deal with her", but that's not the kind of relationship we have -- we handle things together. She and I get along pretty good -- she did have some harsh words for me last summer, but that's when she was sick and not feeling well -- all is fine now. As for my parents, I see them about once a week and he goes with me about half the time (sometimes I stop by on my way home from work and of course, he's not with me then). My parents have never been the "touchy, feely" type, but they really seem to like him.

Dealing with financial decisions, joint or separate?? His money is his and mine is mine, although we do discuss the pros and cons of purchases even though it may not be with our funds. I work in accounting and he became tired of living from paycheck to paycheck and asked me to help him with a budget so he could save and better spend his money. I've done that and made some suggestions on where he can cut back, but if he really wanted to buy something (even if I thought it was unnecessary), I may voice my opinion, but I would not stop him. The same goes for me. We don't argue about money and usually agree with each other most of the time. Major purchases (furniture and appliances) are made by one or the other and belong to that person. For example, since we've been together, I've bought a new bed and new sofa and will be buying a new range this year. I asked for his input, we discussed it, but the final decision was mine. If he were to move out tomorrow, those items would remain with me.

As for kids, I have none, he has two and we're not having any together. The oldest son will be 22 this fall and lives in Texas with his wife and daughter. The younger one will be 19 next month and still has a little bit of growing up to do. He's been out on his own, but is currently staying with his mother trying to save some money. We have a great relationship with both kids and since they're adults, we don't really raise them, but help them out when necessary. If there were a disagreement on how to handle the kids, once again, I'll voice my opinion, but bottom line is, they're his kids, he needs to handle them as he sees fit. I think I'm very, very lucky that the kids are adults -- trying to deal with raising kids in a divorce and custody issues would really put a strain on us. Also, I think it makes a difference that only one of us has kids -- there's no competition with the "your" kids vs. "my" kids thing.

Are we living separate lives even though we're living together?? Definitely not!! I'm not going to say that we're joined at the hip, but we do a lot of things together -- not just family related, but hobbies, too. He loves Jeeps and 4-wheeling. I can't say that I share his passion for it, but when he goes to 4x4 events (several times a year), I go along with him and take part. Likewise, I'm a crafter and do several shows each year. He goes with me and helps with set-up and the booth. We support each other in these things because we know the activity brings enjoyment to the other person.

Are we "in it to the end"?? Yes, I think as much as any other couple. We both know there's no guarantees in life and we both know that a successful relationship takes lots of communication and hard work. So far, we've put forth that effort and I think it's brought us closer. We've even started to plan our retirement (where we want to live, what we want to do) and that's 12 years away for me, longer than that for him. So, we are definitely thinking about the future.

Are we together out of convenience or commitment?? I don't think any relationship should be based on convenience -- not even a friendship. Before I met my SO, I hadn't been involved with anyone for several years. If all I wanted was a man in my life, I certainly could have had one but, I didn't want to settle for just anybody, I wanted someone I could love and who would love me in return. Someone who could make me laugh and who's company I enjoyed....somebody I could depend on and grow old with. Are we less likely to work out problems??? Again, that's just up to the individuals -- some people throw in the towel quickly, others don't.

I don't want to sound like I have a "Stepford" life, but I'm happy and my life is pretty good these days. It wasn't always that way -- I went through some crummy relationships just like everyone else. I guess I'm just in a lucky stage of my life.

Sorry this was so long....I'm sure I've put a few people to sleep by now!!

    Bookmark   June 29, 2004 at 3:06PM
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I really thank you for being honest and sharing that with us.

I think your post proves that we really can't make sweeping generalizations about the intentions of people who cohabit vs. people who get married. As you say, it depends on the people involved.

I think people have personal reasons why they want or don't want to be married, or why it is or isn't important to them. As lpinkmountain said above, though, I think the real problem is when a couple isn't in synch about whether or not to get married, especially if that causes them to question the sincerity or intent of their partner's commitment.

I think the mistake that occurs here though is to assume that just because someone doesn't want a formal marriage, that they lack commitment, or the same level of commitment as a married person, or that they can't be in it "for the long run."

I think, if anything, cohabitation probably requires a stronger capability for trusting the other person in the relationship and feeling secure within the relationship. I think for some people, a marriage license gives them the security they're looking for, but as I've pointed out before, I don't think this means a whole lot because we all know even the most well-intentioned marriages often break up. So it's not real security, it's just perceived security. But for some people, this might be enough to make them relax and feel more comfortable about their relationship. And that's not necessarily bad, if it prevents the relationship from going on the rails due to this being a nagging problem for one party.

I think it's interesting to really think about why it would be important to each of us, and understand the root of our motivations. Maybe if this were to happen, some people would be less anxious about whatever situation they find themselves in. If it's a matter of trust or doubting there's a mutual commitment, that's an important thing to explore whether one is planning to live together "permanently" or get a marriage license. It's the relationship and the commitment that matters most, so I guess the question is, how much do we really trust ourselves or our partner? How do we rationally assess and judge the stability and sincerity of our commitments?

    Bookmark   June 30, 2004 at 10:30AM
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I had a long post planned for here, but Janet relayed a lot of the seniments that I carry about this debate...I do believe that marrieds develop a comfort zone, whereas couples who "mutually" agree to live together are less apt to take each other for granted.....It appears that Teri was looking for marriage and maybe her partner wasn't....that happens and it's up to us as individuals to decide if we can accept it....if we can't, they move on and find someone that does feel like we do....they are out there....the last thing that one can do is settle because they think that if this one doesn't work, there will never be another opportunity

    Bookmark   July 1, 2004 at 12:10AM
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Retroactive wrote:

I think your post proves that we really can't make sweeping generalizations about the intentions of people who cohabit vs. people who get married. As you say, it depends on the people involved.

Actually, it doesn't prove that. No more than the young marriages that are very successful disprove the fact that marriages of young people are more likely to fail than those of older people. The specific does not disprove the general. Only points out the exceptions.

Oh, well, good luck to all. I'm headed back to the Kitchens forum.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2004 at 6:12PM
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Maybe your examples were the exceptions, joann, Regardless, they were awfully judgmental about the intents and motivations of cohabitants. That was my point and I'm sticking to it. This discussion was meant to explore both sides of an issue, not to smugly condemn a side you've never tried.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2004 at 7:50PM
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Retroactive, don't fall for that "why do we need a piece of paper for commitment" line. Men are master of that kind of manipulation and women fall for it! Wise up!

What was women's lib all about if not having respect for ourselves, among other things? I get so tired of hearing women on these forums shack up with a guy and then whine, "why won't he marry me?" For heaven's sake, WHY SHOULD HE? (I'm NOT saying you're in that category, but lots of young women are.)

Why are women so desperate that they will put themselves in the position of being a convenience for a man? I think some fool themselves and think if they go to bed with a guy, they'll change his mind about marriage. NOT!

By the way, I've been happily married for 40 plus years, and I wouldn't live with a man ever. I have too much respect for myself. Any day I'd sit around and wait for a man to ask me to marry him!

    Bookmark   July 7, 2004 at 10:10PM
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Man-O-Man, do I want to respond to that post. But my tongue is bleeding too profusely ...

    Bookmark   July 8, 2004 at 1:01PM
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I am frothing a little myself.

I erased the rest.

I think it boils down to financial independence or the lack of it. Do people think any less of Oprah or doubt her committment to Stedman because they choose not to marry? Nah. It is hard to feel secure when there is one paycheck, your name is not on the deed to the house, and there is no socially recognized contract. Men are not evil, but for many of us, especially those of us who were home with the children or working at 'wife" jobs, they still make more money.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2004 at 6:46PM
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I'm not even going to respond. The post is meaningless. The poster gives no reasons why marriage is necessary or why it's not. I'm not sitting around waiting for some guy to ask me to marry him, I'm not "falling" for anything. Talk about liberated, I have lived my own life on my own for decades, I own real estate, investments and have a great job. I'm not looking to "land" a prize steer, or a meal ticket because that's not my objective. I'm thinking about getting together with someone because I feel a commitment to that person. And I'm wondering what a marriage license is really going to buy us. So far, I don't think it buys us much except symbolism and some perceived security, which clearly may be important to some of us more than others.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2004 at 8:02PM
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Somethings been bothering me about BlueHeron's post ... well, it ALL bothers me, but the comment about womens lib is really nagging at me. The statement suggests that she follows the foundations of womens lib, but everything else in the post screams oppositon!!!

Even though Blueheron was obviously "mature" during the peak of Womens Liberation, her views conflict that of which I was taught. I understood the movement was where women started to question and thus, change societies boundries on issues relating to job inequities/discrimination, childcare, independance, gender stereotypes and sexist oppression. Ive never heard it used to support conservative restrictions (i.e shacking up vs marriage) but rather to FREE us of these constraints!

The whole outlook reflected in BlueHerons post sounds like something off Jerry Springer. You know, "talk to the hand" and "dont hate". Too close to the general attitude of kids today, wearing their "Hottie" and "Alpha Witch" t-shirts.

I do love to hear happy stories about people that have survived a marriage for 20 yrs, let alone 40, but come on shacking-up isnt about compliant sluts grasping for the attention of a man. I suspect someones been hurt somewhere along the road

Guess it's time for me to quit checking in on this topic - all valuable info must have been shared. Now it's just down to insular comments ... But thanks to all who shared their experiences; emotional, legal, etc. (Especially Janet KT - she seems to have it "all dialed in" - what a great union she shares with her SO.) It has raised some questions for me and answered some and will hopefully help me make the decision if the need arises.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2004 at 1:58PM
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Blueheron...welcome....and you should go and check out the abc's of single life thread and specifically look at the word definition it can mean prudence....overly judgemental means that you have put yourself upon a pedastal above others and I'll guarantee you that nobody has any desire to listen to someone that goes that route....I might have to take that thread to the letter "t" tonight just so I can use the word "tact" should learn some

    Bookmark   July 9, 2004 at 9:53PM
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ok, I've had some (all right, a lot of) wine, so maybe this isn't the best time to respond, but...

"I get so tired of hearing women on these forums shack up with a guy and then whine, "why won't he marry me?" For heaven's sake, WHY SHOULD HE?"

Why should he? Well, maybe because he loves her and wants to share his life with her? Why did your lovely husband of 40 years marry you? Because he wanted to "shack up" and you would only agree with a ring on your finger? Wow, what a ringing endorsement of marriage! Where can I sign up?

That statement implies one of two things: either a woman is good for nothing but regular sex and housekeeping and there's no reason on earth a man would choose to marry her if he can get those without commitment, or women do have other value but men are just too stupid or selfish or incapable of genuine loving emotion to recognize or care about our other qualities. Either way, I'm pretty insulted, whether on my own behalf or that of my brothers and male friends (and, yes, BF and exBF) who deserve better.

However, blueheron isn't the only one to express some of these views. "Remember what Ann Landers used to say "Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free." Sometimes she's right." Other words for the same sentiment. Or the "overly judgmental" and tactless point of view: "My conscience would bother me if I lived with someone in a romantic relationship without being married. Call me old-fashioned or principled if you wish. " So what, those of use who make other choices are lacking in principles?

Differences in opinion are one thing. Outright prejudice, or narrow-minded judgmets when faced with other people's choice for their own personal lives, is offensive and insulting.

Maybe I and others have misinterpreted your intent behing these comments? I'd love to hear clarifications of intent that demonstrate my misinterpretation.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2004 at 11:15PM
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Under the law, marriage is a financial contract, nothing else.

Marriage definitely protects children, so if a couple is planning to have children, then it's best for the kids to get married.

But if no children are planned... well, 90% of women "marry up", that is, marry men who make more money than them. So it's usually in a woman's best financial interest to get married, because then either she gets half of his possessions (in some states) or half of his future earnings (in all states).

But for all those men who earn more than their SOs, this is a big financial disincentive to get married.

A second financial disincentive (for both men and women) is the high cost of divorce. Getting married increases the chance of a pricey divorce from 0% to 50%.

So, if TerriSS wants to get married to this man, she has to convince him that the social, personal, and religous reasons are stronger than the two serious financial disincentives he faces.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   September 6, 2007 at 12:09PM
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Hi all,

Wow, what a thread. Not sure if the OP ended up marrying or leaving her BF. Whichever, I hope all is well for her.

One thng I'd like to point out that I don't think was really addressed in this thread, is her self esteem with regard to being in a situation where she has no control. No, not the type of control as in "manipulation", but the basics; being the woman of the home. Women are nurtures and have a "need" to take care of others, be it out spouse, BF, our children, or other friend of family member, or her home. In the OP's case, she will not have a home to take care of, to show off, to comfort others with. This may sound a little too literal, but it's the same situation as having the MIL and DW making decisions on what is best for their man (son or mate). I think the OP would do well to really come to terms with her wants and needs in a relationship. Why does she want this man- security maybe? Is there a commitment from each partner? If the commitment is there, then no need to worry. However, I really dont' hear a commitment from him that he will hold her high when it comes to his life, his family, his home. He still has significant ties to his home and family. I will say though, that leaving the home to his grands is not a bad thing. We obtain things and want to be sure that our families are taken care of after we are no longer around. However the level of understanding of his emphasis depends on whether he has made it clear to everyone that she is his GF, over everything and everythng else. If that is the case, then she should feel comfortable in knowing that the house is just a vessel where they live, but not their life. On the other hand, if his commitment is to his level of comfort - as another poster mentioned, is with having a sexual relationship with someone to be there for him, to cook, clean, etc., that doesn't have a lot of "lip", so to speak. If he is satisfied, he's not going to be OK with anything else. Nor, is he going to understand her feelings. If she says anything, it is "lip" - which he again, does not want.

OK - long post here. I guess this is a touch subject.

Again, hope all works out...

    Bookmark   September 10, 2007 at 12:29AM
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Wow, I came across this thread while searching for kitchen stuff - don't know why it came up but it's sure interesting, so since most people on the thread seem to believe being married is best, I'll play devils advocate and add my 2 cents to the other side.

Everyone really has to go with what they're comfortable with but I think the older you get the less reason there is to get married and there are a few distinct disadvantages.

First of all many people don't have kids or if you're older the kids are grown up. So getting or staying married so that the kids don't "suffer" with unmarried parents isn't an issue. Since that's one of the advantages of marriage and the reason most people get married in the first place it really doesn't apply to older couples.

Older people in many cases each have their own assets. Co-mingling them without a very detailed pre-nup could be dangerous.

I think if you're older and you both work and especially if you each have your own assets you would be better off filing your taxes separately even as a married couple. Why should your assests be placed at risk for any mistake or "mistake" in your partners numbers or vice versa? This is especially true if one or both of you have a business.

Keeping that in mind you have to realize that a lot of credits go bye bye with married filing separately like the child tax credit, the retirement savings contributions credit, itemized deductions, and the deduction for personal exemptions.

Married filing separately is a larger tax hit than single.

It's almost impossible for Married filing separately to contribute to a Roth IRA. Maximum allowable income is phased out at $10,000.

Married filing separately can't take the credit for the elderly or the disabled unless you lived apart for the entire year.

Married filing separately can forget about deducting education loan interest - so if you're thinking about going back to school that's a bigger financial hit.

If Married filing separately has capital gains losses the amount that's deductible is cut in half. (i.e. capital losses are capped at $3000 currently for married filing jointly and for single - married filing separately is $1500 each.)

Married filing separately is taxed on 85% of Social Security income, unless your income is extremely low or you didn't live together.

If none of the above fazes you and you're fine with the either the joint filing risk or the separate filing financial hit consider these other reasons.

In some states when people marry they also marry their spouses debts. Not good if you have assets and your spouse doesn't and he has debts.

In community property states you have to be very careful you don't inadvertantly co-mingle your separate assets or they can turn into community property.

Still together married or not? Well when it comes time, 2 Social Security checks are better than one. (to be fair, on the flip side of that you do forfeit the survivor benefit if you're not married, so if your spouses check is higher than yours you can't claim the higher amount) BUT if you're a widow(er) and you're collecting survivors benefits now they will go away when you remarry so if your new spouses benefits are lower than your survivors benefits that's a bad trade off.

And if by now you're all thinking there is absolutely no romance at all in all of the reasons I listed above, does romance really come with the piece of paper that SAYS you're committed or does it come with the real, honest and true committment you actually feel? It's either there or it's not and a ceremony isn't going to magically conjure it up and sustain it and lack of a ceremony isn't going to make it disappear.

The best example of all:

Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn... are you really going to say these two aren't 'soul mates' because they're not married?

    Bookmark   October 21, 2007 at 3:18PM
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Well, I'm the original poster and I was wishing this topic would go away.... since it hasn't, I'll fill in the "rest of the story". We did end up getting married. We did it beside a creek with all our children there. I have four grandchildren now. I guess getting married hasn't brought me the happiness I thought it would. I think happiness must come from within. I'm still working on it....

    Bookmark   October 21, 2007 at 8:34PM
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Very good points and I totally agree. When my ex and I separated (I left), we went on about our lives, friendly but def. apart, and did not immediately divorce. He became involved with someone that wanted to get married and he filed - we are now divorced. Needless to say, that relationship didn't last long after that. He has since asked me about remarriage. For some of the same reasons you mentioned, I have been reluctant to marry again. Legally there are benefits, but if a couple plans financially and otherwise, the living together can be great. Who needs a piece of paper, other than for property (including financial) rights. That can be accomplished fairly in other ways. OK, if family members heavily involved in decision making after your death, that might be more difficult. However, it can be difficult even if married.

If there are religious concerns, the question of living together without marriage may be a showstopper. Some people would have legitimate concerns in that regard. To some, "living in sin" is just that, and that shouldn't be ignored. That is something the couples should discuss considerably. But the legal, tax and other reasons can be worked out.

One thing though, as I said in my previous post, the OP I think was more concerned about the lack of concern for issues related to his family. In her situation the guy, I think, should step up and embrace her and their relationship, in front of his family. That doesn't mean he has to cast his family away, but if he wants her in his life, living as a "wife", he needs to establish some provisions to accomoadate her as his "wife". I've seen too many cases where that did not happen and the "wife" was left out in the COLD, with nothing - not even her own possessions, money, etc. because she couldn't prove they were hers. Some states recognize Common Law, and others frown on it pretty hard. Pretty sad when that happens.

Anyway, good points.


    Bookmark   October 21, 2007 at 9:00PM
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(blueheron)By the way, I've been happily married for 40 plus years, and I wouldn't live with a man ever.

so they must live in two different houses?
I couldn't resist.

teriss... It is hard to find happiness sometimes:(
You are right it has to come from within (the grandchildren must help some though huh?)
I have been married 15 years this Month. I love him with all my heart (highschool sweethearts) but I do have happiness issues, not with him or our two kids but just with myself, I know this and I deal with it, not that I am unhappy ALL of the time, but anyway..
Okay it is time to put the bottle of Hot Damn away for the night, I am becoming maudulin (sp??)

(sorry for intruding, guess I should head back over to doomsday (the marriage forum, teriss STAY AWAY FROM THERE, IT IS TOO DEPRESSING!!!!!!!)

    Bookmark   November 21, 2007 at 12:15AM
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Hi Micke....Happiness is realized by finding a niche that satisfies YOU....It's up to US to find in our own hearts why we are dissatisfied with our lives and to make it right. For some here, living the single life gives us satisfaction. For others they come here wondering "what happened?" What I have found is that there are a lot of people in search of happiness but sometimes they just don't see the answer staring them in the face because they are afraid of change. It's scary to consider, but my adage is that life is too short to live in an unhappy relationship. I am happy today.
I hope you have a great Thanksgiving!

    Bookmark   November 21, 2007 at 9:55PM
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I highly doubt you will see this message. However, if anyone who is still reading this post can please explain the intent of the statements below to me, I would appreciate it.

"DO NOT live together again UNTIL he walks down the aisle with you, and "all the above conditions" have been met. Move in only after he and you have signed the marriage license and the deed of trust. If he won't then you don't."

Does this sentiment strike anyone else as terrorism? Are you kidding me? This is EXACTLY what is wrong with marriage. The whole thing is essentially a business contract slanted too greatly in favor women. If a woman really wants to be with someone and truly enjoys being with someone, then why place that condition on the relationship unless kids are the issue?

Women like the idea of marriage more than the actual terms and experience of marriage. Look at the comments of all the miserable, married people. This is a sampling of the general population. Go to other sites that discuss the same topic, same thing. People get trapped in these horrible marriages, find out raising kids isn't all it is cracked up to be, and just generally act on what they think they are supposed to do in this society. All of it is absurd. Marriage should go the way of 3, 4, 5, 6, year contracts at least. Or at least add those options, with specific conditins as much as possible (of course, everyone's situation would be harder to figure out by courts). Privitization of marriage may sneak its way in there, too. As long as kids are not too great an issue, people would not re-sign marriage contracts that had terms like that!

    Bookmark   December 7, 2007 at 1:48PM
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Marriage is no different than any other celebration - it's too commercialized! If the government would keep their knives out of the pie, the whole of civilization would be much better off. It's all about the almighty dollar!

    Bookmark   December 7, 2007 at 6:45PM
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Hey K-J!!

You are so right! However, the government isn't the only entity looking at the $$$. Marriage is a relationship, just like the friendships we have with others. The only reason it gets ugly is because of the give and take when things get sticky. In similar situations with our friends, we may stop speaking for some time or 4ever. But we don't try to take someone to the cleanss or expect to trade what each has put into the friendship. But we do have that opportunity when considering divorce. It's like punitive damages - whatever you feel you deserve. The judge then decids whether you are worth the amount you want. The only real difference is that entire lives have centered around the kids and marriage and I guess the consequences of starting over. Add that to hurt feelings, and you have an ugly divorce - with all the emotional baggage that comes with it. I was listening to an author the other day and he analyzed the reason for the emotion - people just will not say "I'm sorry". Althougth he was speaking about child support disputes, it all still makes sense. Both parties of a divorce feel the other didn't measure up. If the parties would just realize that it just wasn't a good thing and then move on, it wouldn't be as bad. Even if you feel you are losing something tho the other person, just cut your losses and go. What difference does it make if you can have the freedom to make it better?

raoulfelder, sounds like you have experience with contracts - maybe of the government type??

It might be a good idea to start a new thread on this topic. The OP has requested that we knock it off, and she's entitled I suppose. This is probably a sensitive subject and originally written under a lot of emotional stress. I hope she has a very happy life with her new hubby though. However, this topic is worth continuing - HOT SUBJECT! Maybe a new thread - anyone...????

OK, not trying to do the good cop/bad cop thing - just think we ALL have a lot to say on this subject...


    Bookmark   December 7, 2007 at 8:02PM
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Let's rehash again....

    Bookmark   June 7, 2008 at 5:53PM
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Walks, the phrase 'rehash again' is redundant!

    Bookmark   June 7, 2008 at 10:21PM
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Jo, you're just cracking me up this weekend - and i had a cup of coffee in my hand!! Yeah, I guess you're right on that one.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2008 at 11:12PM
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Good morning, Mary! Hey, I was just being naughty - if Walks wants to repeat herself, that's fine with me!!!

    Bookmark   June 8, 2008 at 8:29AM
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