After 7 Years Together And Two Kids, I’m Considering Actually Marrying My ‘Husband’

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?

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    • chickadee

      You could just buy a license and then go to the justice of the peace without making any fuss at all. It seems that the main problem you have is what to call the father of your children, so you could just not get married and still call him your husband…..but don’t feel obligated to have a wedding, since those are stressful even when both parties are enthusiastic about having one.

      • Andrea

        For some reason, it always bugs me when people do this. I know it is stupid, but it does. I always suggest partner.

      • chickadee

        Yeah, me too, but she seems not to be comfortable, so whatever floats her boat.

      • Lindsay

        Partner is a good way to go. Gender neutral and implies commitment without implying anything either way about marriage.

    • http://www.whatwouldshethink.com/ Rachelle

      My sister, who has a child with her boyfriend, wants to get married but also without the pomp of a traditional wedding ceremony like mine. I think marriage is not about the wedding, but the wedding itself is merely a celebration of the life that you want to share. The party should reflect who you are as a couple, as a family. If you don’t see yourself wearing a long dress, don’t. If you can’t fathom the idea of a church ceremony, get married in the garden of your backyard with an officiant. My husband and I wanted the traditional ceremony, though secular with an officiant. If you can answer what marriage means to you and it puts a smile on your face, do it.

      • http://www.whatwouldshethink.com/ Rachelle

        And for the record, people in Montreal look at me weird when I refer to my partner as my husband and not my boyfriend. Such a backasswards way of looking at it in my opinion, but hey, we’re like so progressive up here.

    • Jen

      I am getting married in 4 months. I have ALWAYS dreamed of getting married. My advice? Elope. Seriously. My fiancé is the most important thing to me (and grad school, my internship and my full time job). But when we’re together there is some stupid wedding thing that has to be taken care of. Elope…and enjoy the family you have.

      • CrazyFor Kate

        Maybe turn it into a family vacation once the kids are a little older and can participate? Might be fun.

    • megan

      is it possible that, having been together 7 years, having children together, and referring to him as your husband you have a common-law marriage at this point?

      • Andrea

        Only in 9 states in the USA; and that is ONLY for the purposes of probate.

      • Andrea

        And neither FL nor NY are amongst them.

      • Tinyfaeri

        Huh. The more you know… :)

    • Rachel Sea

      Get married. Even if you only go before a Justice of the Peace at City Hall, get married. As gay couples all across the country know very well, a partnership is not the same as a marriage. When everything is well in your family, then being partners is no problem, but if ever an issue arises, your marital status will matter, a LOT. Legally, you and your boyfriend are strangers. You can not inherit from each other without paying inheritance taxes; your living wills, powers of attorney can be void if your notary or lawyer forgot to format a date or check a box correctly, and hospital and court personnel can choose to override them if they decide to find something suspect, or a cranky relative raises a challenge. If either of your jobs is relocated, your companies can refuse to pay for the relocation of your partner. If you travel with your kids and an emergency arises where one of you is incapacitated, you might not be able to advocate for each other, especially if you have failed to travel with all your appropriate paperwork, or if your paperwork is insufficient for the municipality in which the emergency occurs. Some states and countries can even interfere with the custody of your kids – you will get them back, but it could take you a month in court while your kids are in foster care. Even little things, like having bills only in one of your names, can result in problems in the event of death or incapacitation, service providers can make you put down deposits or start-up fees just to continue the service you have always had. A legal marriage will both cement your relationship (if things ever get really hard, it is much easier to abandon a partnership than a marriage), and protect your family. Do it.

      • SusannahJoy

        I was thinking the same thing. Whatever your feelings on whether marriage is wonderful or antiquated or just a silly tradition steeped in nonsense or patriarchy, if there’s a problem, you’ll be really glad you have that little piece of paper.

      • Andrea

        Agreed. People say it is just a piece of paper, and maybe it is, but there is a whole lot of legal rights and responsibilities attached to it.

      • Tea

        Was going to say exactly this. I moved to New England to have those safety nets with my partner. It cost 50$ to have a JP sign the paper, and 30$ for the license, and now If I’m hit by a bus, he has a say in the matter.

    • Andrea

      Get married. Seriously. Get MARRIED. And Imma gonna tell you why, and it isn’t because I am being a conservative bible-thumping idiot.

      1. You have two children with this man. You *think* everything is fine and you’ll be together for ever until one of you drops dead at the age of 99. But what if you don’t? If you are not married and the “partnership” dissolves, there is a LOT of legal issues involved, EVEN if you have wills and whatever. If one of you dies, inheritance could be a problem, EVEN with a will. You might call it a piece of paper and maybe it is, but that piece of paper is also a legal contract and there are a million legal rights and responsibilities that come with it that could solve a lot of problems down the road. If you don’t believe me, ask a lawyer,

      2. Who says you have to wear white or have a huge wedding at a church or have a huge party at the country club surrounded by 600 of your closest friends? Get a license, go to the JoP, get married. It seriously takes like 30 minutes. Then go eat lunch at a nice place. To me, that’s just as good a wedding AS ANY. And you’ll be just as legally married as anyone else that spent thousands on ONE DAY.

      3. Medical reasons: there is this thing called next of kin. That is the person that can make decisions for you if you are incapasitated (sp?), the person your doctor(s) can discuss things with, the person that will be notified first thing if something happens. If you are not married, believe it or not, that person is not your partner. You can have something drawn up identifiying each other as medical proxys (or something like that), but the bottom line is that the whole thing is a PITA, and it might not work. Getting married solves every single issue. You are the wife, he is the husband, there is ZERO questions/concerns/issues. YOU are each other’s next of kin. Period.

      4. Finances: I don’t know if you ever intend to become a SAHM, but if you do and you are not married, you don’t have an income. You cannot count household income (i.e. your husband’s) if you are not married. That means you might not qualify for loans, or credit cards, etc. It might mean you cannot count both your incomes when applying for a mortgage. Again, things that get ridiculously resolved when you are married, are a PITA when you are not.

      • Andrea

        And I’m so sorry I wrote a novel.

      • http://twitter.com/mariaguido Guerrilla Mom

        Haha! No thanks – everything you said is right. I guess I’ve never worried about it because I am very close to my family as well – and they know all of my wishes. We don’t have any crazy relatives to crawl out of the woodwork if anything were to happen to us and want to take our kids. But you are right- with kids there is a hell of a lot more peace of mind involved in being legally united.

      • Tinyfaeri

        I’d second, third and 4th the medical reasons. I’ve been able to have my hubby with me through a lot that I don’t think a boyfriend would have been welcome for, and it’s nice to know that there’s someone there who has my back, knows what I want, and has the authority to make people listen if for some reason I’m not able to speak for myself. It’s a peace of mind thing.

    • Andrea

      Ok, gotta say this one more thing: did you know that the institution of marriage predates recorded history? And that there hasn’t been a discovered culture/society on this earth that just doesn’t have marriage? And that doesn’t mean monogamous and/or heterosexual, but every society in the world that has been recorded has had SOME way of uniting people together.

      For just a “piece of paper” it sure seems to be universal and enduring.

    • Helen Hyde

      Have a nose around on offbeat bride! Plenty to inspire you there… Such as “Post-apocalyptic circus rats in love 3D Save the dates… ” um, there’s something for every taste…!

      • http://twitter.com/mariaguido Guerrilla Mom

        That’s so funny. Someone just told me about offbeat bride and offbeat mom yesterday!

    • CrazyFor Kate

      I was going to say “Hey, whatever works for you,” but then I read the comments and tend to agree. My sister was with her partner for ages and had three kids with him, but when they split up, it was just like they were married. The difference? We all live in Canada. Marriage is best, not out of any moral or societal standpoint, but for basic security. I wish that part of it didn’t have to matter.

    • kirsten

      Since you seem to want some elements of festivity, do just the things what you want and skip the rest. I’m sure you know that, but wedding planning can get overwhelming and you start thinking (and people tell you) you *need* this or that… All you need is two partners and a piece of paper. Add a dress, cake, cocktails, lace-draped Pinterest-inspired candelabras, etc. only as you care to, and have fun!

    • LiteBrite

      “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?”

      I wish one of my bridesmaids had been possessed on my wedding day. That would’ve made for a super cool reception.

    • Emilie

      I don’t have a great answer for you since this is kind of an internal struggle I’ve had as well. I joke with my boyfriend that I want a ring, but I don’t get the bells and butterflies feeling that other women seem to have in regards to marriage. But, we have a lovely child and have seen each other through some really awesome and really tragic stuff and I couldn’t imagine my life with anyone else. We are far from perfect, but we work well together. Best of luck whichever you choose!

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