Social Question

anniereborn's avatar

A question for married people?

Asked by anniereborn (9764points) March 9th, 2014

Other than the obvious legalities and religious connotations; what do you find/think to be different between being married and just living together.

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15 Answers

Coloma's avatar

Divorced person here. Aside from the legal amenities, nothing, except it is a lot easier to pack up and leave a co-habitating situation than it is to get a divorce.
Personally I would never marry again, no thanks. haha

Aster's avatar

For me, just living together would give me less of a feeling of commitment. I take “til death do us part’ seriously. I also feel more concerned with what the guy’s family thinks of me. If we’re shacking up I’m sure they’d have a different feeling about me than if they had attended our wedding. I know it’s old fashioned, but being married I would not meet a “guy friend” for lunch. If not married I might; not sure.
I have little desire to ever marry again. I love/loved both men but I’ve served my time, raised my kids, cooked 8 million meals , picked up 299 socks up off the floor and , as much as I like men, I do hope I have the self control and common sense to not do it again.
It would be quite unusual for a kind, brilliant, talented, super healthy man with my likes and dislikes and a strip of duct tape over his mouth to ever come along and want someone like me so I’m probably safe. lol
I have to go now and fry hash brown potatoes which I detest doing. lol

hearkat's avatar

I’ve been married and divorced and now cohabitate with my fiancé. We are around 50 (give-or-take a year or two) and have seen a lot of people in various relationships and living arrangements. My experience and observations have taught me that marriage and commitment are mutually exclusive – each can exist without the other, and I have seen all possible configurations. We get married in the courthouse and we get divorced in the courthouse – marriage is a legal contract claiming that the other person is now family.

My current relationship is as committed as any relationship I’ve ever witnessed – even my 90-something patients who had been together since their early 20s. At this time, it does not make financial sense for us to marry. A few years down the road, it will probably be more practical for us to do so. We are both fully committed, and we provide each other full access to everything – passwords, finances, etc. We communicate openly and honestly and have only had one minor tiff in over 4 years together. We are fully devoted to being with one another until death divides us, and we don’t feel it is necessary for us to utter it in front of someone dressed in funny robes in order for our promises to each other to be valid.

Aster's avatar

@hearkat you are one lucky man. I have friends living together and in all cases, including mine in 1987, the woman has told the man, “I am not going to do this anymore without marriage so make up your mind.” They evidently want the man dressed in a funny robe or they’re done.
Of course, thinking of this deeper, these women of whom I speak were very attractive. It’s called “having options.”

marinelife's avatar

The making of a lifelong commitment.

SavoirFaire's avatar

Marriage is, for my wife and I at least, a different level of commitment. People sometimes joke that marriage is betting someone half your stuff that you’ll love them forever. That’s funny and all, but it misses something deeper. It’s not easy to demonstrate one’s commitment to another person in a way that can’t be faked. Marriage is an overt act that says, “I am willing to publicly tie myself to you in a way from which it will be difficult to extricate myself.” Even if one has only a small ceremony with family that is not legally binding, it is still a way of putting oneself on the line.

If marriage is “just a piece of paper,” then why are so many people afraid of it? Why is it such a hurdle to get that piece of paper? Because they know that it is in fact more than that. Of course, when we live in a culture that does not encourage long-term planning and really getting to know one’s partner before marrying them, then we can understand how often people get burned and decide never to get married again (though for some reason these same people rarely quit anything else the first time it goes wrong).

There’s an image that I’ve seen several times online that features an elderly couple who had been married for 65 years. When a reporter asked them how they managed to stay together so long, the wife replied: “We were born in a time when if something was broken we would fix it, not throw it away.” The story might be fictional, but the message seems spot on. What marriage signals is a commitment not to run away at the first sign of trouble, and indeed a commitment strong enough to make running away particularly difficult.

This is not to look down on people who choose not to get married. Marriage is not for everyone, and there are many reasons why some people would want to get married and why others would not. Still, I find it bizarre how often those who do not want to get married look down on those of us who do and imply that their experiences should determine how we live our lives. Thus the above should be understood only as the case for why marriage is not irrational, and not as a case for it being the only rational decision.

@hearkat “Mutually exclusive” means you can’t have both, so saying that marriage and commitment are mutually exclusive means that you can’t be both married to and committed to a person. Obviously, that’s what you meant to say given the clarification you offered immediately after.

@Aster Just so you know, @hearkat isn’t a man.

hearkat's avatar

Ooops! It seemed like it was wrong – but I couldn’t figure it out. Thanks for catching that, @SavoirFaire!
Also, I’ve addressed my gender and the difference between fiancé and fiancée with Aster via PM, thanks.

Correction: ”… marriage and commitment are NOT mutually exclusive…”

hearkat's avatar

Gah! CAN BE mutually exclusive.

Darth_Algar's avatar

@SavoirFaire “There’s an image that I’ve seen several times online that features an elderly couple who had been married for 65 years. When a reporter asked them how they managed to stay together so long, the wife replied: “We were born in a time when if something was broken we would fix it, not throw it away.” The story might be fictional, but the message seems spot on. What marriage signals is a commitment not to run away at the first sign of trouble, and indeed a commitment strong enough to make running away particularly difficult.”

Of course there’s also the people who stay together, no matter the psychological damage it does to them and their family because “we made a commitment, ‘till death do us part”*.

(*I’m looking at you, grandma and grandpa, who stayed married for 30 years (resulting in a completely ruined, dysfunctional home life and four wrecked children all with severe issues of their own) despite knowing it was a bad idea a month into the marriage.)

SavoirFaire's avatar

@Darth_Algar No question. My sister-in-law is going through that right now. But those people tend not to even try fixing their relationships. They just pretend (to themselves and others) that the problems are not there. And of course, some people do try and discover that their difficulties are irreconcilable. I’m not saying that divorce is never the best option. My parents are divorced, and it was most certainly for the best. The point was just that marriage is a way to signal an extra level of commitment, not that it must be permanent no matter what.

Coloma's avatar

@SavoirFaire Don’t forget though that it does take TWO to make a relationship/marriage work and only ONE to destroy it.
One person cannot fix anything if their partner is unwilling. I also have seen many people hang on far beyond any reasonable level of sanity and perserverence hoping to fix an unfixable situation.
“Til death do us part” often means the mental, emotional and spiritual death of one person, sadly.

filmfann's avatar

I think unmarried couples try harder, but are more likely to break up during tough times.
Married couples don’t want to compromise, yet during those hard times they find a way through.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@Coloma Sure, I don’t deny that. Again, that’s the situation my sister-in-law is in right now. I’m hoping she’ll just take the kids and leave. But I also wouldn’t call a relationship a committed one unless both people were committed to it. And, of course, signals can be used to deceive. Even if marriage is a signal of commitment, one can propose fraudulently. Nevertheless, two people who are truly committed to one another can use marriage as a way of signaling that commitment to one another and the world.

hearkat's avatar

And that was basically my point, @SavoirFaire; marriage and commitment can exist without the other. Fancy jewelry, ink on parchment, and an expensive party don’t automatically indicate that the couple is destined to succeed and be happy.

I’d bet most of us know at least one married couple who are together on paper, but not in spirit – they may be committed to staying married, but not to the relationship. Similarly, many of us likely know a couple that seem totally in sync with one another, so we assume they’re married and are surprised to learn that they are not. That happens with us – people assume that we’re married.

I also know this is true for a same sex couple we are friends with who still don’t have the right to marry in their state. They’ve been together for almost 20 years, and even had to live in different states for a while. They’ve been through tremendous personal challenges, yet they are still devoted to one-another more than most married couples I know.

KNOWITALL's avatar

It really affected the family, as far as going from liking me to loving me. Knowing me to calling me a sister. His mom gave me lots of his childhood stuff, china, family heirlooms, etc…

As far as friends, they seemed to take my husband and our relationship in general a little more seriously, respectfully.

Being married really defined how we thought of our roles in the relationship, too. Living together was funzies, after marriage it got a little more serious. Like picking up his clothes became a pain instead of an eye-rolling thing. Endearing quirks became irritating habits, a happy-go-lucky attitude sometimes felt like not a lot of ambition.

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