In Her Words: Laura Nolte

7 years ago by

Photos Erik Melvin

Now that the high I’ve been riding from getting engaged is just starting to fade, I’m starting to get more serious about not just my wedding, but my marriage. I want to be married, but whether it’s legal or religious, or something else entirely, we are still trying to figure out.

My friend Laura’s wedding was last year and when I asked her about it, she told me that yeah, she had a wedding, but her and Kevin weren’t actually married. Yep, they decided to forego the legal part and just celebrate their relationship and their commitment to each other with their closest friends and family. I thought her experience and marriage philosophy was interesting, and modern, and I wanted her to share that with you.

Laura Nolte | Married but Not Married

During the months leading up to my wedding earlier last year I began an intense study on the subject of unions, ceremonies, and even divorce. I was trying to intellectualize what marriage is and figure out how to avoid the traps that many — most? — fall into. I observed our friends and family, noticed patterns, and tried to create a loose plan, or rather framework, to circumvent the inevitable obstacles that all marriages face. Sure, the older me will probably read this and laugh, but I need to try. We all know that life can be unpredictable; circumstances change, tastes evolve, recklessness creeps in, and suddenly you find yourself in a place that you never could have imagined. Regardless, when it comes to my relationship to my husband, I am determined to create a system to avoid a failed union.

First step: don’t actually get married.

Most of the 80 friends and family who watched us get married in the British Virgin Islands almost one year ago don’t know that Kevin and I never signed any paperwork. We asked our dear friend Lucas to officiate the ceremony and when he asked if he needs to be ordained, we pulled our shoulders up to the effect of, “what’s the point?” And it’s exactly that question that I’ve been wrestling with since I was really young. Marriage is the legal institution that we have come to accept as absolutely normal. Yet it’s a broken system in which millions of Americans spend around $50 billion on weddings and half of them spend another $50 billion in divorce.

I support the billions being spent on a good party, but the divorce bit seems unnecessary – so we both thought, can we just not sign on the bottom line?

The love I feel for my husband is indescribable. We’ve been together for over six years and he never ceases to impress me, support me, and love me. There is no doubt that this is the man who I want to be my lifetime partner. It was important to me to announce our love to each other during a ceremony in front of all of our friends and family. I wanted to show everyone how much I loved this man. Look! I hit the jackpot! And by sharing our affection and commitment in front of the people we love, they blessed our relationship. It meant the world to me.

Did I need the government involved in order to make that moment any more legitimate? Absolutely not.

In fact, our idea of marriage may be even more traditional than other forms. Stephanie Coontz, author of Marriage, A History (a must read!) wrote, “Among the Mbuti Pygmies of the Congo, a couple is considered married if they have lived together for two seasons.” However, among the Gururumba of New Guinea, “eating cooked food together is consider the equivalent of having sexual intercourse.” I think they are onto something…

Kevin definitely won me over by his cooking. I still remember the first meal he made for me: duck and pheasant. My friends were so impressed that in the early stages of our relationship, Kevin’s code name was endearingly “Duck.” The act of regularly indulging in delicious meals is a strong force behind our coming together. Coontz’s anecdote goes to show that commitment and intimacy can be interpreted in various ways. That’s the guiding principle in our personal life and our relationship: there are many ways to do things and it’s a matter of respecting those differences, even as they evolve.

Historically and culturally, there are hundreds of ways to interpret a marriage. As a Western society, why do we only interpret a “legitimate marriage” if it’s been accounted for by the government? Caroline de Maigret underlined this exact thought on Garance’s podcast. Keep in mind she has been together with her boyfriend for 18 years and they have a son together. In explaining why she isn’t married she said, “I love the idea that I can leave tomorrow. I love the idea that he thinks I can leave tomorrow,” and all the women in the room laugh. She continues, “Having a kid with this man, I am tied to him forever. I could get married, but somehow it just feels like it’s new everyday this way.”

That sums it up best for me. I do believe that many get lazy once married. It’s easy to lean back, get comfortable, and not try as hard. Because really, what’s the worse case scenario? Divorce! And who wants to deal with that? Please go watch the documentary Divorce Corp. which does a much better job at explaining the business behind divorce in America. It’s fascinating that you can so easily get hitched, but getting divorce is a long and expensive process. As the documentary explains, it’s a corrupt system that has been hijacked by lawyers who try to exploit it as much as possible. Regardless, I believe people are more delicate with their circumstances when they know something can change instantly.

I always joke that marriage should take just as long as getting divorced does. Have people fill out a quiz at City Hall to test how well they know their spouse. Or before couples take their vows ask them to discuss the questions listed in this New York Times Questionnaire.

The most common reasons why people do get married center around money. Dig into the details and it’s murky, because one size does not fit all. Before we get started, let’s carve out all the obvious reasons why you should get married:

– One of you earns significantly less money than the other and is tired of the Cup of Noodles diet.
– One of you is sick, or simply sick of the 9 to 5 lifestyle, and needs or wants to retire early.
– He or she is loaded and hasn’t mentioned anything about a prenup – cha-ching!
– And of course, citizenship. The glorious US of A lets your spouse remain in the country if you get hitched. I actually think this common American love story is quite quiet romantic.

There are thousands of benefits. Everyone should read the fine print because those benefits may not apply to them. If I had to guess, I’d say at least a third of those who want to get hitched, don’t fall under that category. Mix in the fact that the success rate of an American marriage is essentially like flipping a coin and that divorce is like breaking up but so much more expensive, and the case for a marriage is pretty grim.

My favorite learning: there is something called a “Marriage Penalty.” It’s the opposite of a “Marriage Bonus,” in which you pay the IRS more because you said “I do” in City Hall. The New York Times created a handy chart in which you can calculate whether you and your spouse would pay more or less here. For Kevin and I, we would have to pay the government around $5,000 more in taxes a year because our combined income pushes us into a higher tax bracket.

Despite this fun fact, our lovely accountant (Kevin and I share one), gently encouraged us to get married. Huh, why? Our marriage penalty could pay a 5-star holiday somewhere far away and tropical. It’s clear that he is a part of the contingency that believes it’s the “right thing to do.” Naturally he just got divorced too.

Don’t get me wrong, Kevin and I almost got married when I was selling my apartment. If my capital gains income, i.e. the profit I made on the sale, was any higher, I would have married Kevin in an instant just to avoid paying an obscene amount of money in taxes (Married couples have double the capital gains credit). That’s a rare instance where you can benefit from marriage right away. But chances are, most people don’t enjoy the financial benefits of marriage because they’ll be divorced by the time they’re inheriting anything our taking advantage of spousal Social Security. Keep in mind, I’m not an accountant or a lawyer, and everyone has a unique situation that should be thoroughly researched and investigated.

Last common question I get: What about hospital visitation rights? Just fill out the necessary forms and your baby daddy, BFF, roommate, dry cleaner or whoever you choose can visit you while you’re incapacitated at Mount Sinai. Clearly being “fake married,” as my charming friends like to call it, isn’t without paperwork. But the paperwork that you do choose to fill out is much easier to get out of than a marriage contract.

Nothing will get you a side-eye from your friends faster than telling them you’re thinking of not really getting married. They were totally and utterly confused. I had to explain myself so often that my explanation eventually turned into a finely tuned, confident, and witty elevator pitch. Oddly, there are still days when I’ll get a ping of panic: “We should make this more official. Like tomorrow.” Those feelings usually come out of nowhere. Meaning they aren’t triggered when Kev and I are apart, or after an argument. I can’t rationalize the feeling except that I think it’s social norms whispering in my ear that our relationship is not legitimate. “Is this a terrible idea? Am I an asshole?”

A while back I spotted Hannah Henderson, owner of the General Store post this lovely note on her instagram feed:

John and I have been together for 14 years today. It is not always perfect despite how our Instagram feeds appear. But we are going strong and are grateful for more than just our longevity. I personally recommend not getting married, as we have not. As a woman and mother I value my individuality and independence as much as my relationship and my role as a mother. Not being a wife helps me hold on to all sides of me. We are not bound by law or license, just a commitment to grow together and raise our kids and do the best we can not to mess it all up.

Reading that felt like a sigh of relief. Thank you. I’m not an asshole.

Will getting married make all the magic that’s in our relationship – cuddle filled mornings, cozy never-ending dinners, mid-day sweet texts – feel permanent? No. We all know that paperwork doesn’t guarantee that what you have is going to last. I worry that it might make it worse. Especially for Kevin and I since we are fueled by a sense of freedom. Partnership takes hard work, thoughtfulness, attention, and sacrifice. Even if we check all the boxes, permanence is not guaranteed. And frankly, turning all the delicate elements that make up our relationship into a contract really isn’t sexy.

However, if Kevin were to come home today and say, I changed my mind, I want to get married tomorrow. You bet I would march down to City Hall without hesitation. Not without a long conversation of course. But I love this man, and I will do anything to make him happy. I may change my mind one day too. I like Dan Savage’s relationship advice in which he suggests couples should reevaluate their marriage/partnership every five years and re-outline the terms of their agreement. Maybe one day I’ll want to get married for reasons I can’t think of or feel right now. In the meantime, I will relish in the fact that my husband and I choose to be with one another every single day and it has nothing to do with the government, and it has everything to do with us and our effort.

By allowing things to be fluid and respecting that we are both ever-changing individuals, I hope to create a successful partnership. It’s a very personal and private project. And one that at this moment will not be helped by a marriage contract. We will continue to feed our spirits and in turn, our relationship, without the paperwork. We will bask in the freedom and be disciplined by its uncertainty. Hopefully, we will keep this magic living happily ever after. And if shit really hits the fan, at least we will both save money from filing joint tax returns and avoiding paying lawyers and instead, have one decadent dinner, filled with duck, pheasant, expensive wine, and toast to all the amazing times. And then, I trust, that we will settle into just being the best of friends. I know in my heart of heart, that regardless of what we call our relationship, I can never live without Kevin in my life.


Add yours
  • I love it !
    Thank you so much for such an alternative vision on this topic :)

  • Cet article est passionnant, mais la traduction française est catastrophique… Je n’aime pas critiquer, mais là ça fait franchement mal aux yeux :( (et crève mon petit coeur de traductrice passionnée et perfectionniste).
    Mais bravo quand même pour cet article !

  • “J’ai l’honneur de ne pas te demander ta main
    Ne gravons pas nos noms au bas d’un parchemin….”
    (Georges Brassens)

  • Ana @Champagnegirlsabouttown February, 2 2017, 10:16 / Reply

    What a wonderful reading. For me, despite divorcing many couples (I’m proud to say, in a least acrimonious way possible) I very much believe in marriage. I married my kind, clever husband (with added bonus of has razor sharp cheekbones and a body of a dancer :))) in a very small, quiet civil ceremony with only two witnesses present. I never wanted to have a big, white wedding, I just wanted to be married to him. I think a break up of any long term couple, whether married or not, can be costly and difficult because after years of being together people normally acquire assets, which need to be split. In England, divorce process (financial remedy/asset splitting is a different process here) can be as easy as filling out a form!

  • I know a lot of couples, together for many years, even decades, who aren’t officially married. Most of them don’t have kids, but some do. What matters is commitment. And we know that a piece of paper doesn’t guarantee that.
    What I’ve seen several times, though, is a wedding-planning frenzy, followed by letdown and, within two years, divorce.

  • Charlotte February, 2 2017, 12:01 / Reply

    Wow. What a beautiful, mature and profoundly thoughtful reflection on what it means to commit oneself to another person, with or without the backing of the institution of marriage. What also impressed me about this piece is her level of self awareness and her courage to think for herself, and to ” hold on to all sides” of herself. Clearly, she has an amazing partner as well. Bravo.

  • Je me marie cet été, donc autant dire que ces questions me parlent.
    Pourtant, j’ai une conception un peu inverse. Pour moi le mariage, c’est aussi se battre pour que ça marche , et pas un CDD qu’on peut jeter à la poubelle si “les conditions ne sont plus satisfaisantes”. L’idée de “je pourrais partir demain”, je trouve que c’est limite du chantage affectif. Moi j’aime bien le côté défi, for life baby, et même si t’es pas contente c’est pareil, parce qu’en fait si la relation s’épuise, ou traverse une zone de turbulences, il n’y a généralement pas un coupable mais deux. Donc ça ne pourra s’arranger qu’en bossant ensemble. J’ai une vision très “team spirit” du mariage (ensemble, contre le reste du monde quoi qu’il arrive) même si dans ma vie quotidienne je suis hyper indépendante et que je m’étais jurée de ne jamais habiter avec un mec (#epicfail on dirait)

  • Rona Note February, 2 2017, 12:20 / Reply

    Interesting point of view! I support whatever you and Josh decide to do, I already consider him my son-in-law!

    Love the post!

  • Love this!! Thank you.

  • An eloquent, loving, and logical approach to partnership…Great post.

  • Juliette February, 2 2017, 2:26 / Reply

    Mes parents sont ensemble depuis 25 ans environ, et ne sont toujours pas mariés.. donc j’approuve haha ! ;)

  • very interesting… my guy and i have been “engaged” for a couple years. i must say i am now thinking we should do something similar. i was concerned about the rights someone would have if one of you becomes ill or injured. my parents and one set of my grandparents were divorced so i’ve never put much importance on the tradition. but legal stuff seems to be a factor. thanks for sharing!

  • What a refreshing voice. Finally! Everyone has their reasons to marry or not to marry but finally are we only now starting to hear the opinions of those that choose not to, without the shocked screeches of those that don’t quite understand. The more we hear about the values and benefits of not conforming to marriage as a ‘next step’ the more intuned to our own relationships needs we’ll become and the better prepared we’ll be to making better choices! I love this attitude and long for and crave more honest stories, such as this! Great post!


  • Wow, this is really beautiful and thought provoking. Thank you for your honesty, self reflection and bravery in sharing this. I’m a huge believer in walking your own path in life, even if it’s not what most others are doing – I really love hearing the stories of people who are doing the same (and yes, I see the irony in that!)

  • C’est passionnant !! Mais quelque peu terrifiant d’envisager le mariage par le prisme d’une savante comptabilité.
    Par ailleurs, comme mentionné plus haut, la traduction française est quasi incompréhensible par moment, et demande à relire plusieurs fois certaines phrases pour en saisir le sens. Be careful ;)

  • Hi Sophie,

    Glad you enjoyed the post! And sorry about the French translation issues. We experienced a glitch, but it’s resolved now so the French side should be updated and ready to go! Thank you! x Natalie

  • Super article et très bonne(s) question(s) à se poser en effet. Je regrette juste que le divorce n’y soit abordé qu’en terme de problématique financière… Or, on sait bien que le préjudice psychologique est, lui, inestimable…

  • Awesome post!!! Thank you!!

  • This story is very interesting, but what I see is a big lie to everyone that attended the wedding, and at the end they spent a lot of money on a fake wedding in a beautiful island… I don’t know, this sounds like too Millennial for me, not realistic.

    Check out my latest shooting at Cuba de Janeiro, a very tropical cafeteria in Barcelona.

    Have a lovely day! MG

  • I was married at 34 thinking marriage could be whatever we wanted it to be, not necessarily what “the state” and tradition has decided it is. But I realized at the signing of the marriage contract that it is really much more about the institution, the people witnessing and supporting us within the institution, than it is about one’s own ideas about what marriage can be. This slightly messed with my head, and there were other issues, and sadly, eventually we were divorced.

    Now I’m 56, was with my partner for 10 years before we finally decided to be legally married at City Hall, and it feels completely different. We married for logistical and financial reasons, didn’t tell anyone about it, and I feel the same now as I did before we got hitched.

    So, I think the same institution can feel/be different at different points of your life, and with a different partner. I’m not pro-or anti- marriage: I just think it’s not a fixed idea. But it IS a contract, an institution much more than a romantic coupling, as it has ever been. It’s political, actually.

  • Something went wrong when I type this comment the first time (I timed out!) – Anyway, here’s another try :) I love your 5 reasons people should get married. I’ve been in a 7 year relationship and I don’t actually know if I want to be “married” except we live in a society where it’s so uncool to say ‘boyfriend’ after a certain age because it seems so temporary.. people don’t take the partnership seriously it seems. Yet, ours is more solid a relationship with far more commitment than some couples who’ve been married a long time, if that makes sense. So right or wrong, it feels to me that ‘getting married’ is something you’ve just got to do as a rite of passage. Unless of course you are just super cool and don’t care what people think :)

  • Chère Laura. Tout en respectant ta décision, j’avoue être perdu. Tu appelles ton copain “mari”. Tu simules un mariage sans signer de contrat (tout le monde pense que tu es mariée). Tu amènes des arguments fiscaux (au moins en partie) comme raison de ne pas se marier. Je ne sais pas; je sens une fragilité, un manque de liberté. Pourquoi tous ces chichis? Tu ne veux pas te marier, tu ne te maries pas. A-t-on vraiment besoin de toutes ces “raisons”, de toutes ces simulations? Je ne sais pas. Je suis confus.

  • I like to hear different viewpoints on such a strong subject. But really, yes too millennial for me. The point of view is still a fairytale idea. Now you recognize that maybe the romantic relationship may end. Instead you cast your love guarantee elsewhere- to the in case it ends, we will still be best friends because our love is so deep it is impossible to not be with one another. Sadly no, life does not go this way. Of course it might, but there are no guarantees. Otherwise I applaud you for paying attention to yourself and partner on how you may love yourselves and cherish your relationship best.

  • I felt like this too. My husband and I just got married a few months ago on our 12th anniversary of being together. Before we signed the papers I swore the 12 years we were together were the same as being married and we have an 8 year child. However, after the wedding it did feel different and I wasn’t expecting that. It feels like we bonded our families together as our ancestors did. Our daughter signed our marriage certificate as a witness and it was just really special. Not something I can explain because I wouldn’t have believed it before either. :)

  • Quoi qu’on fasse, quoi qu’on échafaude, marié ou pas, la vie de couple est un vrai voyage à lui tout seul ! Avec ses hauts et ses bas, ses bonheurs et ses malheurs mais je crois que ça vaut toujours, toujours le coup d’y croire. Et surtout ne jamais rien prendre pour acquis. (je suis heureuse et mariée depuis 24 ans !) Après faut-il se marier ou pas ? Je crois qu’il faut seulement que ça soit une envie profonde de se “lier” à quelqu’un. Rien d’autre.

  • It’s great to see a couple taking such a mature and thoughtful approach to this topic! However as a lawyer I would stress that it’s important to talk to not just an accountant but also an attorney before deciding whether the legal institution of marriage is right for you. There are thousands of legal benefits beyond joint tax filings. I don’t work in family law, but I do know that most non-lawyers who do their own research end in any area up with a very superficial understanding of their legal rights. As Laura says, talk to a professional and then make the right choice for you :)

  • Voilà un couple qui a l’air vraiment amoureux. Aimer l’autre c’est effectivement le laisser libre, pas essayer de l’enfermer pour se rassurer… La liberté fait peur mais est indispensable pour l’épanouissement de chacun. Exemplaire! C’est tellement courageux d’aller à ‘contre courant’ et de ne pas céder à la facilité!

  • Eléonore February, 3 2017, 7:46 / Reply

    C’est un des plus beau post que j’ai pu lire à ce sujet!!

  • OMG thank you for posting this! Sometimes I think I must be the only one thinking like you, and everything you said on liberty, and commitment and marriage being a social norm, it is so relatable.
    Most of my friends basically think that if you are not getting married then something is wrong with your relationship which is such a standardised vision, especially today. It is so hard to go against all those opinions and feel the need to explain yourself all the time. And this pressure just feels so unnecessary and so wrong for so many reasons. And also, what is wrong with throwing a party to celebrate your relationship ? Nothing. Even if most guests will need a reason, but you can always find them one…
    My great grandparents got married at fifty, after thirty years of living together and three children. I mean, come on, this was almost a hundred years ago, when not getting married was even more socially unacceptable. And they lived “happily ever after” during both periods of their life and that’s what is important. There is always a choice. You do you. And if you want to get married, let me quote somebody, just do it!
    Thanks again for sharing Emily and congratulations on your engagement! Bisous from Paris

  • I enjoyed reading this…I am 100% in favor of couples doing what is best for them and their relationship. I was married for 28 years…then my husband left. My children were grown, and there really wasn’t any problem getting divorced financially or legally – the emotional side of it I’ll leave out! I have now been married to my second husband for 12 years. I was only on my own for 1 year before I met him, and with him for 1 1/2 years before marrying. We were asked why we were getting married…both of us liked being married, so that is what we did. As far as not being married and raising children…I have no moral objection or anything remotely related to that, however, I have seen many people go through incredibly destructive and gut-wrenching problems in marriages and/or long term relationships that benefited from the legality of the marriage contract. The majority of these relationships were fabulous for a long time…one might think a horrible break is impossible in their own situation, but that is not the case, it can happen to anyone, and legal protections for children can be life-saving.

    Just something to consider…

  • I agree with James. It’s the whole wedding and “marriage” values without really making the commitment.

    Relationships, like life, are messy sometimes. Nothing is going to be perfect and there’s no way to make commitment easy. But getting up in front of family and friends and saying vows and asking for gifts and then not getting married seems like cheating.

    One way to iron things out and minimize possible divorce fees before getting married is with a prenup. It’s a terrible exercise but very worthwhile. It’s super important talking about finances, debt, goals, etc. before getting married and whenever it got too icky talking about possible divorce with my fiancée my lawyer reminded me it’s also about the possible death of one spouse which didn’t really make me feel any better but at least we could laugh about that.

  • My husband (who is not “really” my husband ) and i, are together for 12 years, growing a 2 years old daughter. I don’t think we will get married for the moment. I have a “family” believing that if i get married i will get divorced…It’s like an auto-prophecy…So as i love my husband and don’t want to get separated i will not marry me…For the administration, here in Spain and France we have an “administration process” which consider we are together as a family and give to both of us rights as family members in case of accident, in foreign country, death etc…

  • My “husband” and I were together for 30 years before he died. We have a daughter together and although there were plenty of times I would have like to have gotten married legally – the reasons were never about our commitment and love toward each other. We could have left at any time, but understanding that each of each us was consciously making a choice to stay daily kept everything alive.

  • agreed on all in this post. it is what i have done as well.

  • Votre post pose des questions pertinentes, trop souvent ignorées.
    Au demeurant, un point est éludé: la mort.
    Je sais, la question n’est pas réjouissante, mais le divorce non plus. Rarissime. Malheureusement, pas tant que cela.
    Vous n’évoquez que l’horreur du divorce. Mais le veuvage sans être mariée est une catastrophe.
    Mariée ou pas, le chagrin est immense, les questions matérielles deviennent absurdes tant sa disparition vous dévaste. Si vous n’êtes pas mariée, vous risquez de vivre un enfer. Il est courant que des comptes familiaux personnels se règlent au moment d’une succession. Quand il s’agit de comptes avec votre belle famille qui ne l’est pas légalement, cela est souvent pire. Mais le pire n’est pas là. Si vous avez des enfants mineurs et que vous étiez mariée, une partie de vos décisions doivent être validées par un juge des tutelles en France. Si vous n’êtes pas mariée, TOUTES vos décisions doivent être validées par ce juge.
    Je suis veuve, nous avons eu 2 enfants durant nos 16 ans de mariage. Aujourd’hui, nous allons bien malgré les épreuves. J’ai des amies dans le même cas de figure. Non mariées. Parfois avec des enfants. 4 sur 5 vivent un enfer en plus de leur chagrin. La plupart des belle-familles sont odieuses, inconsolables, et se vengent sur la compagne ou le compagnon. Vous perdez l’homme que vous aimez, mais en plus, pour différentes raisons, vous risquez d’être dépossédée de votre vie. Alors prudence. Le mariage protège. Malgré tout.
    Faire sa vie ensemble implique un risque de séparation… mais aussi de perte dans la mort. Le questionnement lié mariage n’est pas uniquement lié au risque de divorce.

  • Un testament écrit du vivant des époux ne peut-il pas couvrir tous les aspects financiers? Un mariage pour des raisons matérielles ne me paraît pas être une bonne raison de se marier…

  • KlondikeKate February, 15 2017, 8:34

    C’est juste.. Je rejoins également le commentaire de James. En réponse à Katell : en droit français en tout cas, le concubinage ne fait l’objet d’aucun statut juridique et en effet, un testament peut contribuer à verrouiller les choses. Il y a cependant plusieurs considérations à prendre en compte. Bref, finalement, faire un testament dans ces conditions, c’est DEJA se soucier de couvrir, outre sous l’aspect financier comme vous le soulignez, son amoureux(se), non ? Comme le fait naturellement le mariage, finalement. Parce que c’est cela aussi, se marier : vouloir protéger l’autre. Le mariage n’est pas nécessairement liberticide, comme j’ai pu le lire plus haut. Loin de là, même… !
    Quant à Laura, la mariée-mais-pas-tout-à-fait : “…transformer tous les délicats éléments qui font notre relation en un contrat, c’est tout sauf sexy.” En ce qui me concerne, j’ai vécu l’un des moments les plus forts de ma vie de femme mariée chez le… conseiller patrimonial de mon mari :-)), le jour où j’ai appris en détail les dispositions prises en ma faveur par mon amoureux et qui prévoient, en cas de décès, handicap, perte totale d’autonomie,… que je ne manque de rien, que je puisse continuer de vivre comme avant (financièrement s’entend) et surtout, qu’absolument personne ne puisse avoir voix au chapitre. Ce souci et ce soin de l’autre, m’a profondément émue. Moi, j’trouve ça sexy. Mais bon, chacun voit midi à sa porte !

  • Mamavalveeta03 February, 4 2017, 8:30 / Reply

    Bollocks! It seems like a pretty cynical way to approach marriage: “Let’s not get married because we’ll probably get divorced.” In actuality, according to an article in The Washington Post, “As Claire Cain Miller wrote at the Upshot, the divorce rate peaked in the 1970s and early 1980s and has been declining since then. In fact, if current marriage and divorce rate continues, only about one-third of American marriages will end in divorce, the Upshot’s Justin Wolfers has calculated.” yes, 33% is still depressing, but it is nowhere near 50% or “most.”

    This is anecdotal, but my husband and I got married 6 days after graduating college with our Bachelor of Science degrees. We didn’t calculate why we should get married or not. No pros and cons list, no financial analysis, just…”We’re in love and want to be together!” We’ve been married for almost 35 years, and like any relationship, some years have been “mountaintop” and others, the pits. But our legal marriage helped us maintain a commitment to one another that we’d always work on things no matter how tough the marriage got because we started with love. And after raising 3 daughters, we’re on our own as empty nesters and feeling like 20-year olds all over again!

    Marriage or no marriage, if you intend to stay committed to a person in a relationship, everything isn’t going to be “new everyday.” Caroline de Maigret ought to ask her child if he/she is happy that “[mom or dad] could walk away tomorrow.”

  • One simple question then : why do you call your partner your husband if you are so against marriage ? Whats wrong with calling him your boyfriend, partner, best-friend ? I feel like you are writing against the stereotype of marriage, yet totally falling for them. Confusing, but hey you do you !

  • Rachel, Laura calls him “my husband”, because she wants him to be her husband. She likes the idea of commitment. She just does not want to do the paperwork and pay the fees. Kevin is much more than a boyfriend, he is ‘da’ man! I get it.

  • Liz Morgan February, 5 2017, 10:45 / Reply

    Beautiful. I understand the “Am I an asshole?” experience for choosing your own path, not the path we’re told to walk. Thank you, Garance and team, for sharing this article. I’ve been a reader for years but not a commentator; I felt compelled to share my gratitude for this piece. This is a conversation in need of having.

  • What an interesting perspective! We did things differently, we were together long distance for 2 years, then lived with each other for a year, then had a year and a half long engagement. I had told my (then) boyfriend sometime in year 2 or 3 that by the time 5 years rolled by I wanted some form of commitment (buying a house together, having a kid, any type of union ceremony, whatever…) and if he didn’t want to do that I’d leave because I wasn’t interested in hanging around with someone that didn’t want to be grown ups together. We had the big white wedding because my husband wanted all his family there. And then I got pregnant on our honeymoon (I gave birth exactly nine months after our wedding LMAO!) so I honestly don’t know if marriage would have changed our relationship. But having kids sure did!

  • I would add that just because you didn’t get married doesn’t mean you can just walk away from each other if things go south. If you’ve been living with a partner for a year or more then you’re officially a common-law spouse and that comes with its own set of legally binding rules that can drag on for years after a split, especially if you own property together or have kids. So if you don’t want to get married then that’s totally fine but then what’s the point of having a commitment ceremony if you’re already planning on walking away when things get hard as they undoubtedly will?

  • Anny Ongena February, 10 2017, 9:08 / Reply

    Lovely article :-)
    Indeed dare to follow your heart and act and live accordingly.
    There is no ‘one fitts all formula’!!!

  • Blake May, 8 2017, 5:09 / Reply

    Thank you for this very insteresting article.
    I totally agree with you, I had the same idea for as long as I can remember. Of course, everyone thought I was crazy (I’m soooo familiar with the ” if it’s not on paper, it won’t be a real wedding”), but for me this is the most logical thing to do when you’re in a relationship, than marriage.
    And then I decided that I want to adopt, and few months later, I start dating the love of my life.

    We both want to adopt, and the problem is that it will be easier for us if we’re married.

    But we decided to do it like we always wanted to (same as you, but we’ll have a paper to sign at the end). And I wouldn’t see a anyone else ordain the ceremony, but a friend.

    i would also like to thank you, for sharing your story, Hannah Hendersen’s comment, and Garance too, for everytime she shares her love story with us.
    It’s important to remember that nothing is perfect and that every relationship needs and requires work.
    With social medias, we’re use to see so many couples that look perfect on picture or seem perfect on paper, that we end up doubting ourselves and our own relationship.
    Sometimes, it can be hard, especially when you’re fighting with the person you love, and you see those feeds. Because we can’t see what’s behind.

    That’s why I’m so thankful for Garance to share her story with Chris with us. Because she tells us the truth : It’s not perfect everytime.
    And (I think)they look perfect on pictures, because they love each other, no matter what :)
    (And they’re both gorgeous).


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