My Uncle had two unsuccessful attempts to marriage. The first was to his high school sweetheart. He really did love her- he just got married too young. The second was a foolish mistake because I think he was lonely and she was desperate for a step father for her child. I don’t think that lasted six months. Then he met D, and they started dating.

And they dated.

And dated.

Never moving in together.

For twenty years.

After two failed marriages, my Uncle was wary of pieces of paper connecting people legally. Plus, he and D got along really well, except when they didn’t.

They both did well financially- he’s a Doctor and she was flipping houses long before it was fashionable on HGTV. He is a car and motorcycle enthusiast who loves a good car show and trip around an engine. He treats his body as a temple with an intensive workout routine of weights and cardio and yoga. He loves music and plays guitar in a band of other Doctors, and attends concerts whenever possible. D was opposite in many ways. She loves a good drink and a better party. As well as her mid atlantic residence, she also maintained a condo in a southern state, enjoying her weekends on the beach, meeting as many new people as she could. She was a total people person.

They loved one another, but had their moments when his quiet solitude didn’t mesh with her boisterous joie de vivre.

But no marriage. Twenty years.

About eight months ago, D was diagnosed with cancer. Stage 4 lung, with some secondary spots. You can guess the prognosis…

So in April 2020, in the midst of the pandemic, my uncle and D got married.

He wanted to be able to have full rights to care for her in the final days, which he did, until she passed two weeks ago.

Which brings us to:

I’m not a real fan of the concept of marriage. I’m one of those people who thinks it’s just a piece of paper.

But, in the end, does that piece of paper really mean something?

What are your thoughts on marriage vs a partnership?

Do you swing towards one side or the other?

Do you think it’s the same?

Do you think one way clearly is better than the other?

Discuss…

114 thoughts on “What’s a Marriage

  1. Wow, LA.
    This is a very moving post.

    As far as my opinion on marriage, I represent the ‘far right’.
    For me, marriage is a life-long commitment, a sacrament.

    My advice to young people considering marriage has always been – find someone with whom you have a compatible sense of humour.
    Life spent laughing with your spouse is joyful. 😁🌷🐕

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Absolutely in agreement, LA !
        There is the romance of ‘the engagement ring’, and ‘the big day’.
        However, as you say, the relationship is ongoing, and requires sacrifice, compassion, and a total commitment.
        Many people are content to walk away from marriage once the ‘Wedding Day’ is over.
        Even without a white gown, and a venue, every day for a married couple is a ‘Wedding day’
        Again, I speak only as Mrs. Conservative. 😁🐕

        Liked by 2 people

  2. I was married for 25 years and once I was divorced, I have vowed to never re-marry. Marriage was great for raising kids. Now, I am too cynical to marry again. I just feel like the woman gets saddled with the majority of the emotional load of the planning within a relationship plus the actual caretaking, housework, etc. At least that’s what happened to me in my 4-year post-marriage, cohabitation relationship. I like my independence. I enjoy not carrying the load of planning and taking care of others. Yep, I am selfish. I think your Uncle had the right idea for that stage of his life. I am so sorry for his loss.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. I’ve read your comments before and felt like we’ve led parallel lives! I was also married 25 years and when I made my recent SO move out, people said, you’re so lucky you didn’t marry him.

      Luck had nothing to do with it. 🤷🏼‍♀️

      Liked by 3 people

  3. I’m definitely not in the “marriage” camp. I find it interesting that people talk about commitment as though they’ve never heard of divorce. I was married for a long time – 25 years – and cannot imagine a circumstance where I would do it again.
    I’m not saying it isn’t a good idea for some people and if you’re young and planning to have children, that’s probably the best way to do it.

    Liked by 5 people

  4. A moving story about your uncle. He had his practical reason for finally tying the knot. Having found just how hard the work is to keep a marriage going, I would not do it again. I am much too independent. We are enjoying each other’s company and this relationship is probably til death do us part. If he goes first, I will stay single.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. First, I’m sorry about D’s passing. I understand why your Uncle did what he did and I’m glad he did, for both of their sakes. I have known many who have had partnerships similar to your Uncle and D’s. I was brought up to believe in marriage as a sacred vow, but obviously I’m divorced now so that thought process has evolved.

    Would I marry again? Perhaps. Am I open to a relationship? Yes, indeed. Do I feel that piece of paper gives me security? Well, before the divorce I would have answered a resounding yes, but now it’s just a piece of paper to me which allows a legality that not having it changes in many ways. So yes and now because I think it depends on the situation and circumstances.

    Our generation (ahem) and the ones before us were more rigid in marriage being better vs partnership because it was more official. Partnership somehow sounded like you could still get out of it because it wasn’t legally binding, yet divorce has proved that wrong over time because it’s become more prevalent. So with that change, I feel like older generations would view partnership as fear of commitment.

    I don’t know how I stand now except to say it would depend on my situation in the future time and the person with whom I have the relationship. I am enjoying my own home, but I would like to share a relationship with someone special. I just am not sure if I’d want him in my space 24/7. LOL

    Liked by 4 people

    1. That’s the whole thing. With the divorce rate at like 50/50, the piece of paper really doesn’t mean much….people will still leave. It just takes longer to dissolve

      Like

  6. I think marriage is important for the legal aspect of the relationship. Marriage has a lot of baggage and expectations attached to it by people and has different meanings to different people….but in the end it is the piece of paper that matters and makes it legal. For example I was remarried in 2018 after having been divorced in 2001….yet I have relatives that don’t consider me married because I never got an annulment from my first wedding and did not have a priest bless this wedding 🙄…but hey….I have the piece of paper saying I am married so I have the legality of it. So for me, marriage is the legal paperwork for the commitment of the relationship.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. In the end, my uncle wanted the legal responsibility of making decisions for her when she really didn’t have a voice. So, yeah, for him it actually mattered. But I admit having been divorced once, if something were to happen…I just don’t know. But of course I am married, so who knows what my feelings would be otherwise

      Liked by 2 people

  7. I am totally invested in my marriage. However if at some point I would find myself single I can’t see doing the marriage thing again. The arrangement your uncle had seems nice.

    Thinking only from my observations , it seems people give up a lot when they remarry. If I found myself single I want to have the freedom of not living with someone and the ability to pursue my own interests.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I know what you mean. I don’t know if I would ever remarry. It’s funny because a lot of my friends (my age group) who are divorced have chosen to date monogamously, but not even live together.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. The fact that your uncle married D is a testament to the difference between being married and being in a long-term relationship. He wanted to oversee her final days and be the one to make her medical decisions. As next of kin via legal papers of marriage, he had that right. I’m so sorry for his loss. I’m glad he was able to be there for her though. I’ve been married twice. My marriage to David isn’t anything like my marriage to the ex. Thank God! David and I dated for five years before we married as well. Dating or living together is not the same thing as being married. If you’re both on the same page about what a marriage means (commitment, reliability, trust, joy, sharing both good times and bad, a bond with that one person that isn’t the same with anyone else) you don’t have the psychological worry that when the going gets tough, you’re going to find yourself alone. You can get into all the financial stuff as well if you want, the importance of stability, especially when you have children, but it truly is about the two becoming one and yet still maintaining your separate identities. Mona

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I think if you e had a particularly bad divorce, the want to get married gets diminished. You know exactly how bad it is when a marriage has gone really wrong. I think to some people, the contract of marriage means a lot less. In a disposable society, it’s easy to make marriage like that too. I’ve been thinking about this for a few weeks and thought I’d throw it out to the group

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I would love to discuss this, I really would, but I am still wrestling with the vestiges of “covid brain” and my present condition will not allow it. I have been married to the same man for forty-one years. There have been a lot of struggles. Had I known what i do now when we were dating would I have still married him? Maybe, and maybe not. I was raised Catholic with very strict ideas about marriage, divorce, etc. In the Catholic faith marriage is considered a sacrament, until it’s not, and an annulment is granted. There are lots of divorces among my siblings. I can’t even go there right now. But it is a great question.

    Before I post this I just want to say how very sorry I am for your loss. Your uncle sounds like a wonderful, caring person. He must miss D terribly.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. Hi there! Thanks for visiting my blog and for the ‘like’!

    Hmmm…marriage..not for everyone, but I think the piece of paper does matter…it’s a public declaration and I believe the numbers show that breaks-ups are more likely between co-habitees. A stable society/stable families are in all our interest…I understand that children feel more secure with married parents. I don’t think anyone should marry before about age 27 tho…my (albeit limited) experience is that young people are only interested in being princess for a day/competing with contemporaries/the wedding venue….making a success of a life-time committment is a bit of an afterthought…

    Liked by 4 people

  11. Marriage is what you make it. I have known people who never got married but were totally committed to their partners, although the law in most states would not give them certain rights, which puts a different spin on things as your uncle so wisely took care of. I do believe in marriage and not just because I have been married for almost 40 years. My parents divorced when I was very young ( 6 or 7) and they should not have been married in the first place, but at that time it was expected. My 2 brothers and one sister have all been divorced for one reason or another. It is my belief that both parties need to have the same view of marriage, you can’t have one willing to work out problems and the other not seeing the need. To me it is my way of saying that you are important to me and I am willing and committed to you, no easy way out.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The thing is, is conflict resolution even something people talk about before they get married, or is it all unicorns and rainbows? We take it too cavalierly ….

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I was brought up to think that marriage was a forever thing but after my divorce (6 month marriage) I know it is not. It is work and I think that having the ceremony and the piece of paper that goes with it shows that you are willing to do the work to keep the relationship going. Somehow I feel that not being willing (or not wanting) to make that commitment to “make it legal” means that perhaps you want an easy escape route when the going gets a little tougher. There are exceptions of course. I know for myself, after having been married for 36 years, if something happened to my husband I would not look for another marriage. Probably wouldn’t even live with anyone else. I want some me time. How wonderful of your uncle to marry D though. I’m sure it was helpful for her at the end.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I used to think the escape route being easier too, but I know people in long term relationships, which aren’t necessarily great, but they respect the amount of time invested and continue to work at it. I don’t know one way or the other

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Somehow I imagine that their marriage had more emotional significance than just helping to facilitate her care..don’t you think? I am so sorry to hear about yet another death you have had to face..I mean sheesh..you have REALLY, REALLY been through it this year. 😕

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Wow amazing comments!

    First, I really liked the way you led into the story. Great storytelling! I have to admit that getting married (i.e. engagement/wedding/honeymoon) never really appealed to me to begin with. Maybe eloping, but even that…

    The commitment thing, that’s something I thought I wanted when I was young. Maybe bec the alternative wasn’t as attractive? Certainly the whole baby biological clock thing influences the commitment part.

    Being who I am today I would say no I do not believe in getting married as a means to an end. I can understand that some societies set up situations where it makes it less of a hassle if you are legally recognized as married should something happen, as in caregiving for a spouse or children or other legalities and all that, but I am not going to advocate the whole wedding/marriage thing to anyone.

    I am common-law but see that as less of a commitment than someone who had some form of ceremony and made a verbal commitment in front of witnesses. It would probably shock my partner to hear me say this but at the same time, he’s not pushing for the whole hoopla of a wedding either. Being in Canada though, we are recognized and enjoy the same benefits as a legally married couple so either way I’m not worried about it. (I should probably read up on this and see if things have changed recently.)

    Parenting changed me. I am a different person today than I was in my 20s and even 30s, and am almost convinced that a partnership ending in a ceremonial union would not be for me were I single in this day and age.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m iffy about whether or not non married couples should be considered next of kin. For example…my father in law had been living with a women. When she got Ill, her daughter called the shots on what was to happen. My fil was thinking of himself when it came to next steps, not necessarily what was best for his girlfriend. But that’s a hard balance no matter what

      Liked by 1 person

  15. What I think is special about a marriage (the ceremony more than the paper) is it’s a PROMISE and a COMMITMENT. I think Americans in general are very scared of committing to someone, largely because of divorce rates, but this fear of commitment is also ultimately part of what leads to couples being “okay with” separating. I think a lot of times we go into a relationship, even a marriage, thinking subconsciously “I can get out of this if I have to”, especially if they’re jumping into a marriage just for the sake of it. I think ultimately the relationships that last are relationships where not lasting is just … not an option. Those couples work things out, make things work if they have to. And that *can be* a very powerful thing about a marriage. That being said, some people have that without a wedding.

    I know that’s probably not a super popular opinion. It’s mostly based on my observations of my parents’ many relationships, some including marriage and some not, as well as which college relationships have survived thus far and which ones were over within two years. Also, I’ll admit, personal religious beliefs color that opinion in part.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Well, then why aren’t you happy that they got married? If we are with the “right person” I think that marriage is a commitment to loving and taking care of each other, it means we don’t need to search anymore, we are not alone.

        Marriage means we really trust the other person to take care of us, which is why they got married.

        I think it is a shame that upon her death bed, they both realize they love each other enough to put their trust in each other for marriage, because NOW they did not have to FEAR divorce or that the other person might leave and only married the other person for financial gain. They both must have had fears of divorce and that is why they feared marriage.

        There are so many stories like this… I had a friend who had a boyfriend for 8 years. He insisted he did not want to marry her and he did not want children. She was sad and kept thinking he would change his mind. FINALLY, she broke up with him.

        He then married his hair dresser and had three beautiful children and was VERY HAPPY and PROUD of his children.

        So… why did he suddenly get married?

        You can imagine my girlfriend’s heart break and feeling of wasting 8 years.

        LIFE — there are no clear answers, right. It’s complicated.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I think marriage is an option. In this particular case I don’t think either of them wanted to be married. My uncle did want to be approved of what was going on at the end of life which wouldn’t have been afforded him if they weren’t married because that’s how it works legally. They still had a good twenty years. For them, the paper didn’t make it better or worse. The paper made some things easier. I agree that some people “want” to be married. But that’s a different scenario. Nothing wrong with being married. Nothing wrong with not being married. It’s just what two people want and respect for a relationship. But both people need to want the same thing

        Liked by 1 person

  16. Very sad that the marriage didn’t come until her final days. I’m always a little suspect of people who don’t think marriage is important or necessary. As your story proved, partners don’t have the same rights as spouses.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. As with most things, it’s what you make it.

    They clearly didn’t need to be married in order to enjoy a long and fruitful time together, and in the end it was a matter of having peace of mind as to why they did get married.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. or maybe they just found the right one like your relative…kids have gotten kind of ugly in Florida over common law marriages with property rights…have had this happen in our area a few times.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. If the state does not believe in common law marriage, rights get messy and kids might fight over property or monies. Believe it or not, when we first moved in our home, the adult kids were kicking out the live in of the father and she spend days outside in the garage crying. We were new in the area and I was not accustomed to living in Florida. It was a little awkward.

        Liked by 1 person

  18. I’ve known people who are happily together in both modes (?) of companionship. I do think that it’s a big deal when it comes to end of life situations. My sister-in-law and her partner have no plans to marry, but when one of them had a heart attack the other had no rights to be included in the other’s health care information. Fortunately family members were generous in sharing with her. Not all would be in the same situation.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. What I have discovered can be even more awkward is if the children of the adult child confide in you several things and seem to prefer you as the step grandma to others. Whew. I don’t even talk about it anymore.

        Liked by 1 person

  19. I think marriage is more than a piece of paper. It’s the reinforcement of a commitment. If it’s just a piece of paper, then why not do it? Why not demonstrate that you plan to be in it for the long haul? Not getting married is like saying, I care about you but not enough to declare it to the world. I actually wrote a blog post on this very subject – To Marry or Not to Marry?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I understand both sides of the coin. I had a really bad marriage before. My ex took much of my money. I was stupid and trusting. Personally I didn’t want to get married again, but my husband wanted to. But I would prefer my daughter to never marry. But that’s me

      Like

  20. Sadly, sometimes that piece of paper can make all the difference in the world. My mom was friends with a woman who had lived with her “significant other” for many, many years. Then the friend died, and her family wasted no time in kicking the SO out of the house they shared, and didn’t allow her to have any of the friend’s property. My mom was so upset, saying “This is NOT what my friend would have wanted.” Your uncle was a wise man, and I’m so sorry for his loss.

    Liked by 2 people

  21. I never thought marriage was in my cards, relationships always usually ended after three months, as I aged I dated much older women. My last serious relationship I was 36 and she was 56 (still friends). But then when I turned 40 I met Jess who is 12 yrs younger. Marriage finally felt right. We have been happy since May 4, 2013.

    Liked by 2 people

  22. You can ask a hundred people this question and get a hundred different variations of the dam answer, some or most of which might be influenced by how their own marriage/divorce/relationships have worked out. For those who appreciate or really understand the nature of marriage and all that goes with it, I think it’s more than a marketing fantasy. Can a partnership be the same? Of course. But I’ve always had the feeling that for those who take that route, there is a part of them, big or small, that just doesn’t want to deal with permanence. It’s an escape clause, so to speak. It’s a psychological thing. But that’s just my thought.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I think the big thing is if both partners are on the same page. The problems arise when there is a concession or compromise. Some things you shouldn’t compromise on

      Liked by 1 person

  23. Your post caught my eye since Entrepreneur and I will be celebrating our 40th this month. I think marriage much more than a piece of paper. It’s a commitment to each other. When we’re intimate with another person, an emotional/psychological connection develops whether we want it to or not. We are all created for relationships. I agree there are a lot of bad marriages, but there are also a lot of good ones. My in-laws have been married for 60+ years….not all have been good ones, but they’ve c chosen to honor the commitment they made to each other. My parents divorced after 22 years. Our oldest daughter is on her third. Marriage is tough. It comes down to what is the underlying motivation in your heart about the relationship. As always, good fodder for thought! xoxoxo

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I was interested in what others felt about this subject. I thunk marriage is different things to different people. In the end, bot partners need to be on exactly the same page

      Like

  24. The word marriage stings my heart. The funny thing is that if I had any idea my marriage would end, my guess is that it would have occurred when our kids were still at home. When finances were tight and we were stressed with working and raising kids. Not when they were finally adults and we had grandkids, money, and it was time to enjoy each other again. I’m torn between hating the loss of companionship and yet loving and yet loving my independence.

    Liked by 3 people

  25. The short answer is that we got married thirty years ago and it still seems to be working. Like me it has good days and it has bad days.

    We had a short engagement, economical wedding and three day honeymoon to fit in with work.

    We both come from a long line of people who stayed married for 50 or 60 years.

    It suits us and if people want to make other choice they are welcome to do so.

    Liked by 2 people

  26. The best marriage I have had is my current partnership with the Hubby. 13 years strong! After three failed marriages with American men who loved me being independent until I married them then they turned either into lazy asses or control freaks, I WAS DONE WITH MARRIAGE!!
    I made it very clear when I started my relationship with my Dutch (hubby) what it wasn’t going to be, a marriage. The great thing here in the Netherlands is a partnership when legally documented has the same rights as a marriage. So if I get sick, he has the rights to make final arrangements. When it gets complicated is when it comes to the US GOVERNMENT with ancient outdated rules about what individuals can do or when they can grant decisions to others. Like, I never liked the fact that in some US states the husband in the relationship had total rights over his wife! If he says your crazy then he could go to court and admit you with little proof. No level of consistency between states and no promise that if you move your rights as an individual would be honored. I think as a young country we still have a great deal to learn to make the most perfect union.

    Liked by 3 people

  27. I married at 20, it produced one son, lasted about 5 years. Too young I did not understand what it meant at all. Until it wasn’t. After, I grieved the loss of the actual marriage part more than the ex. I had no idea entering into such a union under God actually formed a living entity besides my husband and myself which was destroyed in divorce. Pretty sure he didn’t see it that way since he basically kept looking after the ceremony. In COVID I do see why your sweet uncle and D made the choice they did. She’d have had no care at all were it not for him. My prayers for his peace and comfort in his grief.

    Liked by 2 people

  28. I’m biased because I’ve been married since I was 20, however, I’ve always imagined that being in a long term relationship without the legalities attached make it easier to detach and so it makes me wonder if the committment is really there at all. People call it a piece of paper but it is a covenant. A binding agreement that you uphold without the option of jumping ship when the first wave hits.

    Liked by 3 people

  29. My personal opinion is marriage affords you the opportunity that even your uncle knew it could only give him if he was actually married to her. A partnership is great but you can also have a partnership in your marriage if you marry the right person and they’re your best friend and you’re genuinely in love with them. Marriage is a gift and an institution from God so it can be a blessing

    Liked by 3 people

  30. I believe the response depends on the person, their experiences and their beliefs. My mom and dad split when I was about 9 years old. Their experience did not sway me against marriage. I married my high school sweetheart and we are going on 19 years of marriage in December. I absolutely love him and have no plans to go anywhere, even when times get rough. Marriage takes a lot of work, but I believe the partnership, vows and commitments we made before God are worth it! At times I can feel like he’s my best friend, then he’s my worst enemy but all in all I don’t want to share my everything with anyone else but him.

    Liked by 2 people

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