not married with childrenI call the father of my children and boyfriend of seven years my “husband,” even though we aren’t married. It just seems easier that way. It feels a little weird when we stand there as a family and I introduce him as my “boyfriend.” Inevitably, people look at our child and I can almost hear them thinking, “so, is he the father?” I’m also currently eight months pregnant. “Boyfriend” confuses people.

It probably seems stupid. It is 2013 – there are plenty of different family dynamics out there. Not everyone with children is married. I realize this – it’s just starting to feel a little weird. It’s making me question some things about myself, namely, why the hell have I never been able to follow any conventional paths – ever?

I was never one of those young women who fantasized about marriage. I’m not saying women have to fantasize about marriage at all – but I think you get my drift. When friends were planning their weddings, I was always the one saying things like, Did you know that bridesmaids used to wear white so the evil spirits that visit brides on their wedding day would become confused and hopefully posses one of the bridesmaids instead of the bride? Isn’t that fucked up? 

What is the point of a maid of honor? Or a ring bearer? Does anyone have any idea? Or are we all just blindly following traditions we know nothing about? Well, I know nothing about them. Maybe everyone else that has made a point of marrying the love-of-their-life does.

At this point, the general disinterest in the traditions of the ceremony have sort of evolved into a general disinterest in the institution itself. Mix that in with a healthy dose of my own feminist belief that marriages really only worked when women couldn’t leave – the post-woman’s movement escalation in divorce proves that – doesn’t it?

See –  I’ve completely over-analyzed something I’ve always claimed to care nothing about. But now that I am about to have two children with this man, this seems a little ridiculous. If for nothing less than simplicity and the sake of legalities alone, we should really get married. Shouldn’t we?

But how do you embrace something that you’ve been ignoring for so long? Honestly, the whole thing just seems like one giant bummer now. I don’t know how or when this happened, but all of the sudden I’ve become the woman who thinks she’s too old for everything. When I think of wedding ceremonies I think, Oh – that’s for kids. Am I going to wear a long white gown? I’ll look ridiculous. I did just turn 40. Maybe I’m more affected by this whole age thing than I thought I would be.

There are just so many aspects interwoven with marriage that don’t seem to jive for our situation. We aren’t religious. We don’t have the money for a big ceremony or even a big party – and we just moved thousands of miles away from all of our friends. What the heck would our wedding look like anyway? I realize I am acting like the ceremony and the institution are the same thing – and they’re not. But the question that I just can’t answer is, “why get married?”

If I am really rebelling against the whole idea of marriage, I kind of feel like a fraud for calling him my “husband.” I mean, if marriage is really so unnecessary – what’s with the label? “Boyfriend” just doesn’t roll off the tongue like it used to. Also, I should probably stop saying, are you being serious? every time he mentions marriage. Not good.

I kind of love the whole idea of being devoted and committed to each other without the necessity of making it “official.” If we have all of our ducks in a row – living wills and such – is it even necessary? Our kids have both of our last names. Is it going to be weird that mommy and daddy aren’t married? I have to believe that times have changed enough that no, it won’t.

But that line of reasoning always inevitably brings me to, what the hell is my problem with marriage? Is it really just that I feel like I’m too old to do it the “right” way? What is the “right” way anyway? I’ve been brainwashed by Today’s Bride magazine and the Knot, haven’t I? Oh, and don’t forget Pinterest. That’s all weddings, all the time.

The sheer amount of questions this poses tells me I do want to get married. I’m in love with this man. I love the parts of him I see in our child. I love thinking of the parts of him that I will be seeing in our child that’s yet to come. I need to get over myself. A marriage is what you make it and has nothing to do with the colors and flowers you choose for your ceremony or the amount of people you decide to invite. Our wedding definitely won’t be Pinterest-worthy, but I think it’s time to realize that I call him my husband because he is.

I guess some things are just worth making “official.” And I’m pretty damn sure I don’t look 40. I may still be able to pull off a long white gown yet.

(photo: kuban_girl / Shutterstock)