I have been dating my boyfriend since just before the pandemic hit. At this point, I have been divorced for almost five years and living with New Guy for about nine months. I adore him and I love our life together. I don't think I would have been able to appreciate all the wonderful things about him had we met years ago. For that, I am grateful for having gone through all the ups and downs of my previous relationship.
The thing is, I can't imagine getting married again – ever. I see so many divorcées moving on and doing it all over again, and honestly I can't think of anything less appealing. My boyfriend is not putting any pressure on me. He says he's happy being together in any way that makes me comfortable (he's awesome). My question is … do I not want to commit to marriage again because somewhere in the back of my mind I might not think he's not The One, or do I just have trauma from a bad marriage and subsequently painful divorce?
Is something in me broken to not want to be legally bound to another human being again? Is it OK to feel happy and fulfilled the way things are, or am I cheating him out of something more?
By the power vested in me by ... the Boston Globe Media company, I guess ... I hereby pronounce you happy and fulfilled – without marriage.
The institution isn't for everyone, especially when a person has had a bad experience with it. There is nothing wrong with your way of thinking, and it sounds like your relationship is fantastic. Congrats.
Based on what you said in your letter, this isn't about you being sad, incapacitated by trauma, or less in love than you should be.
There are many ways to be committed, coupled, and together in bliss. Trust me, there's also other forms of paperwork that can tie people together without it being "marriage," specifically. Movies, TV, fashion, and various institutions tell us that happiness looks like getting married, but it doesn’t have to be endgame. (This is why I loved the end of the movie "Four Weddings and a Funeral" when I was younger. No spoilers, but check it out, if you've never seen it.)
It sounds like your lack of interest in doing this again is about knowing what makes you comfortable. Now all you have to do is trust yourself.
To be clear, it's not that anyone else is doing it wrong either. It's just that one size has never fit all.
Take a deep breath and think about the answer you’ll give the next time someone asks if you plan to get married. I recommend something simple. Maybe, "It's just not my thing." Don't worry about depriving your partner of anything. Instead, when he tells you he's happy, believe it.
Readers? Is anyone being deprived of anything here? What should the LW tell others when they ask why marriage isn't on the table? Do you have stories about couples who chose not to get married?