I’m Engaged With Two Kids And In No Rush To Get Married

shutterstock_107749958Recently, I got sucked into one of those silly, but very entertaining Yahoo lifestyle stories. There was a story about celebrities with long engagements. And, recently, of course, there was the movie The Five Year Engagement (which I haven’t seen yet…too busy seeing Wrecked Ralph with a 9-year-old).

I’ve been engaged for almost a year now, which isn’t too long, considering my first engagement was three plus years. I have one child from each man. And this engagement is looking like it’s heading in the direction of the five year engagement.

I get incensed when people comment on my so-called “bastard” children, or comment that people are so opposed to having children out of wedlock. Wake up and smell 2013. In fact, not too long ago, a so-called acquaintance of mine commented on a blog she wrote about me that I have two children with two different fathers and was never married. I couldn’t believe it, since the story wasn’t about that, that she would even bother mentioning that.

Obviously, we have totally different ways of looking at the world (ironically, she writes a blog with the word “modern” family in it.) What also incenses me is when people think, for whatever reason, that it’s the man who is holding off actually getting married. Jason won’t marry Britney!

In my case, this time it’s not. My fiance isn’t technically divorced yet. At a party, I asked a lawyer what would happen if we got married anyway. Of course, it made me laugh when this lawyer told me it would be considered a polygamist thing and could have a jail time of up to 15 years (And that’s in Canada. THAT kind of made me want to marry my guy immediately just to see what would happen.) But it’s not even that that’s holding us back.

With my first engagement, I basked in the compliments of “Congratulations!” for months and months and months. I basked in it probably as long as most people could.

First off, I ENJOY being engaged. It’s like marriage, but still with the heart pounding excitement of knowing you are one day going to get married. What’s the rush? I probably could wait for that day in 20 years.

My daughter, who, yes, was only three when I separated from her father never asked us to get married. And, now that she’s nine, she still has never asked why we never got married. My fiancé who has a 13- and 11-year-old do ask if we’re getting married BUT only because one wants to be the photographer, the other a flower girl, and they all want to buy pretty dresses. It really has nothing to do with my fiancé or me.

I don’t care what any study may say. I do not believe that delaying marriage is going to affect my own children. I already call my fiancé my husband most places we go when I introduce him. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not opposed to marriage at all. I cry at friend’s weddings.

But maybe, just maybe, there are people (like me) who are not marriage people but engagement people. This could be because I don’t really see any fun in planning a wedding and I am almost 40. So don’t really see the difference between being engaged and being married. We are just like you. We work. We raise our children. We live together. He changes my oil in my car. We do chores.

I just know love is love. Do I want to marry this man? Does he want to marry me? Yes. Will it happen? Who knows? And there is something super selfishly fun about people asking time and time again, “So when are you getting married?”

We have absolutely no plans as of yet. And knowing us, it could take a while…like years. Like I said, maybe I’m not the marrying kind. But I do enjoy being the engagement kind.

(photo: Rashevskyi Viacheslav / Shutterstock)

You can reach this post's author, Rebecca Eckler, on twitter.
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    • Tea

      So aside from his lack of divorce, what benefits are there to waiting a long time aside from excitement? I know it feels freer and more modern to some people, but to me it feels precarious. My partner/husband and I killed our savings and gave up a much, much cheaper way of life just so that we could get married legally. We saw what happened after the death of Sally Ride (who’s partner of 27 years receives none of the spousal benefits a straight couple could have), and we couldn’t handle that as being an outcome.

      I moved 800 miles across country just to get legally married, because It was worth the security. I can share my husband’s insurance. We get some tax bonuses (Not many, since we can’t have children.) God forbid something happen, I can ride in the ambulance with him, help make medical decisions, and just plain see him if he’s in the ICU, because otherwise we couldn’t because we aren’t “family”. In theory, if he were in the hospital, his family could say that I am not permitted to see him at all. If the truly unfortunate were to happen, I’d at least be able to be involved in the process.

      I know everyone has their reasons, but that’s why I went for it, and live in a ridiculously expensive area compared to the midwest. It’s worth the safety for us. (Even if Connecticut is cold and expensive.)

      • http://www.facebook.com/houde.veronique VĂ©ronique Houde

        The thing about Canada is that, even if you’re not married, you can still benefit from common-law status, which basically covers everything that you just mentioned. All you need to do is live with your partner for over a year and you’re considered common-law. Yes, there are a few more benefits to being married, but the reasons you’ve named aren’t really valid over here. And by the way, you don’t need to spend a crapload of money on a wedding? I don’t think that money is an issue for Rebecca.

      • Tea

        Ahh, okay, I wasn’t familiar with Canadian laws, I just knew them as concerns in the U.S.

        Our wedding was about 75$, and was standing in a Justice of the Peace’s office, actually. ” Sign here, sign here, I pronounce you wed” kind of thing. The expensive part was the moving, and the dramatically higher cost of living to be in a state that recognizes gay marriage.

      • Milky

        As a Canadian lawyer I just wanted to say this comment is full of nonsense.

      • StephKay

        I live in Ontario and have a common-law spouse and in terms of the vast majority of benefits being discussed in this comment thread, I don’t see how her comment is full of nonsense at all. Naturally common-law doesn’t come with identical legal rights, but for the basic purposes of maintaining a relationship and family on paper I think our common-law system is absolutely wonderful.

    • Jayne

      If he’s still married, you’re not engaged, sunshine. You can’t be engaged to marry a man who’s already married.

    • June

      Lol, you can’t be engaged to someone who’s married. You’re his mistress, even if they are separated.

      Also, it’s Wreck-It Ralph.

      • Andrea

        Oh snap!! Nicely put June.

        The man ain’t even her fiancee, let alone a husband as she introduces him to people.

        Also Eckler, what’s so wrong about pointing out that you have two children by two different men that you never married? You have no shame about that right? They are the facts. If it bother you that she mentioned it, you need to explore why. Maybe your conviction that marriage is “so 2003″ isn’t something that is really true. Not in real life and not in your head or heart either.

    • CrazyFor Kate

      Hey, my sister and her fiance have been engaged for twenty years. I assume they’ll get married in their nursing home when they’re both ninety-five. Whatever works, right?

    • http://www.facebook.com/courtney.wooten Courtney Lynn

      I wouldn’t say you’re really engaged if you’re not sure if you’ll really get married. You have a boyfriend that you might want to marry. That’s fine, just call it what it is. Despite that he’s still legally married.

    • Kai

      You know marriage does not require a wedding, right…?
      You can go get married any time. Well, to a person who isn’t already married, that is.
      Engagement is the plan to marry. You don’t seem to have any plans to marry this man, which makes the term ‘fiance’ rather absurd.

      • Jen

        I was going to say the same thing. If planning isn’t your thing, when he is divorced walk to the courthouse/jp whatever they have up there and have two people around witness the marriage done and done. If nothing will change why not do it? it makes things much simpler if you plan on staying together.

      • StephKay

        Honestly, she doesn’t even have to go that far. I live in the same province as her, other than the pending divorce she meets the common-law criteria. I’m not nuts about the concept of marriage, but did want concrete ways of expressing that my kids’ father and I are committed to each other. After the engagement I was still really conflicted about a wedding, so we exchanged rings, spent a little us time, and started filing taxes and such as spouses. Common-law really is that simple in Ontario. Plus it leaves the door open for a wedding if that becomes a priority later on. Easy peasy and comes with basically identical benefits to marriage. Hell, the vast majority of forms I fill out have “married/common-law” as one and the same option. Ontario makes the choice to commit on paper ridiculously simple, all you need is to live together for over one year or have a baby together, whichever comes first, and you can basically just wake up one morning and say “yup, you can be my spouse now!”.

    • 11candlelight

      Wow, talk about protesting too much… You’re not engaged, you’re “the other woman” if he’s still married, sorry. And I think what your “so called acquaintance” wrote stung because it hit a little too close to home, hmm? You can put a nice spin on it if you want and claim to not care, but your friend only wrote the exact literal truth– you have two kids by two different men that you have not been married to, and one of them is still married to someone else. — it obviously bothers you so much that you have to write an entire article about how much it doesn’t bother you… Maybe you should explore with yourself why that is….

    • Blueathena623

      Ok, I’m not going to lie — it would make me nervous to be “engaged” to a man who, in well over 3 years, still hasn’t managed to get a divorce. Is it near impossible to do in Canada?

      • Kai

        no. Sadly it’s just as easy to divorce in Canada as in many states. You can get a unilateral divorce without much trouble if you’ve lived apart for a year. Doesn’t sound like that’s an issue here.

      • Blueathena623

        I figured as much, but didn’t want to assume. I have nothing against long engagements — we’ve stopped asking my sister when she and her fiance are going to tie the knot. Their devotion to each other doesn’t need a piece of paper, BUT there is nothing stopping them from going to the courthouse tomorrow (and honestly, most of the family bets they already did that years ago).
        Obviously Eckler and her fiancĂ© believe, at least somewhat, in the institution of marriage, hence the engagement. So if they think marriage means something, why has her fiancĂ© not put a rush order on that divorce? I’m a pretty trusting person, but any guy who still has not managed a divorce in 3 or 4 years despite going on to propose to another woman seems shady to me.

      • CrazyFor Kate

        It took my dad five years to divorce in Canada, because his ex-wife moved provinces a couple of times. There might be complications like that in this guy’s situation.

    • Monica

      I’m not usually a fan of the Rebecca-bashing that takes place when you post an article, but I really hope you’ll comment at least once to explain why you would date, have a planned baby, move in with, and agree to marry a man who is already married. Even if the answer is “because his ex is making the divorce impossible,” I still don’t think I’ll understand.

      • rebecca eckler

        Divorce does take a long time. It really does, especially when there are companies involved. And, for the record, this engagement hasn’t been THAT long. It was my first that was three years or so. And, no, I’m not a mistress. He’s been separated for more than two years. There’s nothing hidden here. We are completely happy engaged. And when and if I do get married, because I’m not opposed to marriage for anyone else at all, you’ll all be the first to know. But, right now, I have no plans.

      • Monica

        I never suggested your engagement was “THAT long.” But I’ve read your articles. You’ve been together at least long enough to have him reverse his vasectomy, get pregnant, give birth, and at some point move in together. You say he’s been separated for more than two years, but you have a minimum of sixteenth months invested in long-term relations with this man (six month old baby, nine months of pregnancy, at least one month after the vasectomy was reversed).

        I’m aware of how long divorces can take, but why wouldn’t you wait until the divorce is finished? Even if you don’t feel the need to get married, he *was* married. He had a wife and kids. He took vows. He told someone “til death do us part” and instead impregnated another woman less than a year after he split from his wife and long before his divorce was final.

        Before you answer, please understand that I’m not calling you a mistress. I get the impression that you knew this man before he was separated from his wife, but i don’t take that to mean you had an affair. However, i feel sorry for his children who have to be incredibly confused and hurt (I speak from experience). I feel sorry for his first wife, too, because a little bit of respect could have gone a long way here.

      • Mel

        “He took vows. He told someone “til death do us part”

        Eckler doesn’t care. She already stated that marriage is “so 2003.” Speaks volumes.

      • rebecca eckler

        Nope. I hadn’t met him at all until after he had moved out and already started his separation agreement. The children have, happily, been okay with things. Our new baby has brought this family even closer.

      • Monica

        My question stands. Why would you not wait until after his divorce was finalized?

        I hate when people say they shouldn’t have to wait forever, divorce takes so long, blah, blah, blah. The vows say “til death do us part.” If you’re divorced before you’re dead, the divorce still got you out faster than you originally intended.

      • Kai

        When you use the term *if* you get married, it calls into question your ‘engagement’. “Yes, I plan to maybe marry you perhaps sometime. If I change my mind and feel like it.” is hardly an engagement.

    • Fabel

      You may be basking in anticipation or whatever, but if your fiance “isn’t technically divorced yet” then I think he’s still definitely the one prolonging things (despite your protests…)

    • Angela

      I’m really quite baffled by most of these comments. First of all an engagement occurs when a couple decides to marry. That’s it. It’s not a legal contract and there are no official requirements such as setting a date or being unmarried or even separated. Whether or not married people should date or get engaged is a personal choice. These days it’s generally acceptable as long as a couple has separated and begun divorce proceedings, but again there’s no requirement that an engagement must be socially acceptable to exist.

      Also, I take issues with labeling women as “mistress” or other such labels under any circumstance. How often are men called out as home-wreckers? Um, never.

      Mostly though I can’t understand why anyone else cares. Personally I wanted DH and I to be married before having kids with all the legal protection that provides but I know other couples who feel differently. I figure to each their own.

      • Andrea

        No one cares. She just keeps writing about it. So we keep commenting about it.

      • msLiz506

        You clearly care if you’re leaving multiple comments on this article. It’s okay to care, or to “love to hate” someone, as so many people do the author. But don’t claim nonchalance.

      • Andrea

        Oh yes you got me. My life has no meaning unless I can comment on Eckler’s train wreck of an article.

        And I comment when she bashes marriage. I am sick and tired of her writing BS after BS about how marriage is outdated.

      • Ashley

        Thank you. I’ve been quite surprised at the comments on this article, especially coming from this community. It’s not the way I would do things, and perhaps there are valid critiques or differences of opinion, but to insist that they aren’t “really” engaged and to call her nothing more than a mistress? Please, people. You are better than this.

    • Psych Student

      After reading another comment, I now understand that in Canada, it’s much easier to get benefits for non-married partners, but in the United States, it’s important to get married because it’s not just a piece of paper. As someone who is legally married (in Washington) but not according to the federal government, getting my marriage, rights, and responsibilites (such as what to do with my wife’s dead body if that happens (though I hope every day that I’ll never have to impliment our plans), as well as the rights and responsibilites that come from divorce (if straight people can get divorces, gay people can too), is tremendously important. My wife and I carry copies of our wedding license in our purses, as well as power of attorney forms, just in case we need them. We also look enough alike to pass for sisters, a description we plan to use in the event of emergency. This may sound paranoid but the government recognizes these rights for married straight people, which is why it is important to get married in the US.
      I know others won’t agree with this, but I think you can be engaged even if your fiance is still married. You can’t legally be his wife, but I don’t think it makes the engagement any less of a very real state of being, since it’s not a legally recognized marrital status anyway.

    • Dee

      Who wants to bet the guy runs back to his wife when he gets tired of Ecklers bullshit and dumps her like garbage?

    • Name

      Lifestyle comments aside, Rebecca, please start proof-reading your articles before you post them — or Mommyish really needs to hire some better editors.

      Paragraph 1: It’s “Wreck-It Ralph”

      Paragraph 3: “I couldn’t believe it, since the story wasn’t about that, that she would even
      bother mentioning that.”

      Awkward phrasing – Removing the “it” and putting in some dashes could help.

      Paragraph 8: “My daughter, who, yes, was only three when I separated from her father never asked us to get married. (…) My fiancĂ© who has a 13- and 11-year-old do ask if we’re getting married BUT only because one wants to be the photographer, the other a flower girl, and they all want to buy pretty dresses.”

      “My daughter, who, yes, was only three when I separated from her father (COMMA) never asked us to get married.”
      “My fiancĂ© (eliminate WHO) has a 13- and 11-year old (add WHO) do ask if we’re getting married…”

      Paragraph 9: “Don’t get me wrong. I’m not opposed to marriage at all. I cry at friend’s weddings.”

      First of all, doesn’t really relate to the content in the rest of the paragraph, but also, a comma in place of the first period here would make it read less choppy.

      Paragraph 10: “This could be because I don’t really see any fun in planning a wedding and I am almost 40. So don’t really see the difference between being engaged and being married.”

      A subject in your second sentence would help, otherwise it reads like a sentence fragment.

    • Sara

      I don’t have such a problem with the long engagement, although I don’t personally understand why you would get engaged unless you were really sure you wanted to marry the person and planned to make it happen pretty immediately. However, different strokes for different folks.

      I’m much more concerned, however, about the fact that you had a kid with someone who’s still married. As others have pointed out, it doesn’t take that long, nor is it that hard, to get divorced. If your fiance/boyfriend/whatever hasn’t managed to make a clean break from his wife in all this time, I’d want to question why before committing to something like having a child with him. And for me, I wouldn’t be willing to procreate with someone who would move in with, impregnate and agree to marry someone else without getting divorced first. That signals a lack of integrity and a degree of flippancy about his responsibilities to his wife and their children together that I would be really uncomfortable with. I would also wonder, if he’s comfortable disregarding his responsibility to his current wife this way, what would keep him from doing the same thing to me if things were to head south?

    • Zoe

      I don’t normally respond to posts but in this case I had to respond as both a mother and an educator. It’s amazing how many people sit behind their computers and try to write mean and hurtful comments to the author. If you are mothers than you should be ashamed of yourselves because to call Eckler a “mistress” or her finace “shady” is absurd. She met this man when he was legally separated. The two of them have children who may read her blogs or people that their kids know. You are setting up their children to be bullied by insulting the author and her fiance. What kind of mothers are you and what do you teach your children? Try and write like intelligent adults and not mean little bullies. Rebecca I am curious how you and your finace would explain or teach your children strategies to deal with some of the uncalled for stuff that gets posted here.

      • Laura

        How’s the weather up there on that high horse of yours?

      • Laura

        Oh, and since you’re claiming yourself as an educator, you should probably know the difference between “than” and “then” in your third sentence.

        I like to tell my students to proofread their work prior to submission. You might want to take a stab at it, too.

      • Elle

        If the kids have been through the break up of their parents’ marriage, Dad moving in with another woman, getting her pregnant and now having 2 additional siblings in the span of 2 years, I’d say the kids are already screwed. Anonymous comments on a blog by people they do not know are the least of their problems. Much more serious is how to explain to these girls in a few years why jumping into a relationship with a married man who just left his wife and getting pregnant without any sort of legal committment from the father isn’t a good life goal. Sure once in a blue moon it works out “ok”, but the majority of the time it leads to heartbreak and single parenthood. Is that what he really wants for his kids?

      • rebecca eckler

        So everyone who divorces, and has kids, and moves on, is screwed?

      • rebecca eckler

        I don’t tell anyone, friends, family, or my children that I write for places usually. I don’t tell people either when I’m going to be on television. It’s work to me and I don’t know why, really, I don’t share it, but I just don’t. Possibly, they will read, but since they are 13, 11, 9, and 7 months, they have more important things to do than read what I write! (like obsess about Selena Gomez and justin Beiber.)

    • Dlee

      I don’t normally agree with your articles but this one hit me very close to home. I have a 5.5 month old with a man that I am, technically, engaged to. We’ve been engaged for about 16 months and a lot of people are now asking “when’s the date” because they assume the reason we held off was so I could have the baby. It wasn’t, it was just always in our plans to have a long engagement. In fact, now that we’ve got a son, we’re holding off until 2016 so he can be a part of the ceremony too. Well, that’s what we’re telling people anyway. I’m not even sure if I want to get married any more and am happy to just be “partners”. (I’m in a country where common law allows de facto and homosexual couples the same rights as married ones. If the law were different then I’d reconsider.)

      How someone chooses to do things, as long as it’s not hurting anyone else, shouldn’t need to be justified to others but clearly the comments prove it still does. And those who fail to understand why the author might be bothered by someone bringing up her children’s parents and her marital status, please read the next sentence too before jumping to those conclusions: “since the story wasn’t about that, that she would even bother mentioning that.”

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000671066987 Jonathan Hains

      You sound like a ho

    • Frances

      Ummmm yea. You’re not engaged if he’s still legally married. And if you don’t have plans to get married you’re not engaged. You just have a boyfriend who gave you a ring. It’s “engaged TO BE MARRIED”. No plans to get married? Not legally able to? Not engaged. And divorce doesn’t take that long. It just doesn’t.

    • Happilymarriednokidsyet

      I have no problem with people having kids out of wedlock, as long as they’re well cared for obviously, but I don’t get the long engagement thing. The marriage process isn’t difficult, and it secures you many benefits. Basically I feel, if you aren’t ready or think you can’t get afford to get married, don’t get engaged. At the end of the day, engagement isn’t a status, and if there is no date set, people will be doubtful, stop caring and lose interest.