I have been thinking a lot about marriage recently. Not because I want to get married. But because I really don’t want to get married. And the more people ask me when me and my boyfriend of 17+ years are going to get married the more I dig my heels in. I will admit my feelings about marriage vary from day to day. I had great marriage role models growing up. My parents had a great marriage for 41 years. My aunts, uncles and various cousins have all been married for 20-40 years. I’ve seen beautiful, healthy, successful marriages. So I know that they do exist. But for me, for some reason, I have a real problem with losing my identity and my independence. Now, I do believe that my feelings could have a lot to do with my age. If I’d gotten married at 25 I would probably feel a lot differently than I feel at 43. Maybe.

I love Tony. We’ve been together for 17 years. Literally since the day we met. We’ve never been apart. I know that we will get married eventually. Even though I don’t really think we need to. I know that it is one of those conventional things that society demands and it validates your relationship to the world. But legally it isn’t necessary. In this day and age we can sign legal documents binding ourselves to one another without a marriage license. If we were having kids it would be a different story but this factory is closed so that ain’t happening. Tony and I have these arguments all the time about me changing my name when we get married. I keep telling him I’m not going to do it. He keeps telling me it’s non-negotiable. Then I tell him everything is negotiable and he’s not the one who would have to fill out all the paperwork and stand in line at DMV and Social Security and he should have married me when I was 26 and had less stuff in my name. But again at 43 it is a different story and he is out of luck. 

I don’t know why, but for me marriage represents a loss of identity and autonomy. These feelings are not really valid because I do discuss things with Tony. We talk about everything, all the time. However, knowing that we aren’t married, at the end of the day, I know that I have the freedom to do what I want to do. I like being a couple. I like being part of a team. But I also like being me. And I hate paperwork! I’m probably just selfish.

I assume that there are plenty of women that are married who are able to maintain a sense of self while being married. At least I hope so. And I’m sure that I will fall into that category. At least I hope so. Listening to the arguments against gay marriage over the last few years just made clear that there are many aspects traditional marriage that are antiquated. While marriage was originally rooted in religion, that is no longer the case. In fact, marriage is a civil union, not a religious one. Although you might get married in a religious ceremony, you cannot legally be married without marriage license from a county official (right Kim Davis?). Also, women no longer need to be married for financial stability. Our daddy’s don’t need to marry us off so we can be taken care of. Although I’m sure my dad would appreciate this. Okay, so I’m leaving out the love factor. The wanting to share the rest of your life with someone, wake up with someone, grow old and have babies with someone factor. Yeah I know. There’s all that too.  But we all know if that’s all there was too it divorce attorney’s wouldn’t be so rich. I’m not a cynic. Well maybe I am a little. But I think I’m more of a non-conformist. I don’t want to conform to society’s view of what they say a “wife” should be. That’s all. Live with it.

As I write this post I’m sitting in Coffee Bean eavesdropping on a conversation between two women “of a certain age”. The women clearly don’t know each other as they are asking “getting to know you questions”. During the conversation the women are talking about their lives, families, activities, etc. I’m going to name them Mary and Julia (Sugarbaker) because I wasn’t here for introductions. And Julia is obviously from deep, deep in Georgia. Julia is talking about how much she loves working. So Mary says to Julia, “oh, what do you do for a living?” And Julia says (in that accent), “well I help my husband with his business. He works so hard so I help him as much as I can. I just do whatever I can to make life easier for him.” So I’m thinking to myself, “Really? This is your job? Helping your husband? You can’t even articulate what it is you do?” It’s fine if you work with your husband but at least be able to say what the hell your contribution to the company is, especially since you love it so much. Now I know I’m being hard on her based on my own biases and obviously I have no idea who she is or what she does for a living. For all I know she ran a Fortune 500 company for 20 years and turned it over to her husband last year. But I don’t think so.

So before I could finish this post someone new sat next to me. She sat next to me for about an hour. She talked on the phone the whole time. To the catering manager a hotel. Planning her wedding….