I'm in a long term relationship with my girlfriend, we have a house together, and I help raise her two teenage girls. I was married before (Unitarian) but got divorced and I am just not interested in a church wedding or a church concept of marriage. The government concept of marriage is not appealing either. 

We are committed to each other, until death as the saying goes. I have seen so many good relationships get wrecked by marriage though, that frankly, I'm gun shy. She is an atheist, too (although has some superstitions she keeps up with) and she has an ex as well. 

We live a good healthy, happy life together. We love each other deeply, her kids are part of my family in my heart and in reality as well. 

I guess I would like to get some of your thoughts on marriage, or what being a married atheist means.

Sometimes it feels like the only reason I am thinking about this stuff is that I am tired of being in my 40's with a life mate I call a girlfriend. And life insurance, wills and all the other issues that many gay couples have to deal with.

P.S. I am gun shy about marriage, not her. She is awesome and will be with me as long as we live, with or without marriage. 

Tags: life, marriage, marry, mate

Views: 507

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Hey Melvinotis,

I have similar feelings when the idea of marriage is brought up in my relationship.  I don't see the need.  The love and commitment are already there, and a wedding isn't going to change that.  I perhaps have some not so great feelings toward it, since I was always taught that marriage is about bringing god into your relationship.  That's the last thing I want to do symbolically in front of friends and family. 

It is, however, a social marker to others (friends, hospitals, business, etc) of your love and commitment.  Maybe the point isn't to bind you for life (when you already are) or to bring the idea of god into the equation, maybe the point is to help others understand your commitment to one another.  I've been with my boyfriend longer than some of our friends have known their now wives or husbands, and yet we're still sometimes asked not to bring a date to weddings.  I have yet to see anyone ask that a guest not bring their wife or husband.  I'm beginning to feel like boyfriend does not adequately describe the relationship I have with him.  I'm 30, but I think about the future, about kids and life insurance and retirement...and I realize that society doesn't yet have a good way to deal with deeply committed couples who aren't married.  The question is - do I fight for change or work within the system?

I waiver sometimes, but in the end I don't think this fight is worth it.  At this point, I would love to just go down to the courthouse, but my boyfriend (although atheist) loves tradition, ritual, and ceremony.  If we do have a wedding, it will be as small as we can get it, simple, and secular, and afterward we'll go back right to our happy home that we already have together.

boyfriend does not adequately describe the relationship I have with him

This is an important point. Perhaps instead of getting married, you could borrow some terminology from the GLBTQ community: life partner, significant other, other half... I'm sure there are more

"Partner" is the most commonly used term in the UK for a longstanding relationship that doesn't include marriage.  "Boyfriend" and "girlfriend" are mostly used in the early stages of a relationship.  "Other half" is a casual description that can easily include a spouse.

"Partner" indicates a full commitment and doesn't specify gender - although my wife tells me that here in the US the term is indicative of same-sex relationships, which is not the case in the UK.

Actually the first time I heard "partner" was from a man introducing his female companion to me.  I don't know to this day whether they had actually gone through the whole marriage thing or not.

Thank for your response, your thinking is similar to mine, although I have not yet run across the not bringing a date to weddings thing. That seems odd to me. 

Sometimes I think there needs to be new terminologies for all of the different relationships that exist now but were uncommon when such things were decided. For my relationship with my girlfriend I have considered describing her as my paramour, (fun but a little too antiquey) life partner, (could be confused with a gay relationship) wife, (too deliberately misleading) and concubine is right out. So we have stuck with girlfriend/boyfriend.

Thoughts on Marriage

I once looked at the woman who is now my wife and considered some of the same things. I sat there, watching her as she slept on my couch, and I thought to myself:

This is the most capable, intelligent, interesting, educated, successful, remarkable, attractive woman I have ever known. She walks into the room and before ever saying a word my mood climbs a notch higher. She laughs at all of my jokes (even the dumb ones), knows how to listen, and knows how to talk. She is patient, kind, understanding, honest, trustworthy, and impeccable about keeping her word. She is, and I'm being quite serious and literal; a black belt in karate, a licensed pilot, a former NASA rocket scientist, and a medical doctor. And of course, she's an atheist. If they held a contest for 'best woman on the planet' she'd be a serious contender. I can't imagine ever being with any other woman. Then the best thought of all occurred to me: she really, really loves me.

So I asked her to marry me. I am absolutely certain that was the best move I've ever made.

She is awesome

If you truly mean that: marry her. You're far more likely to regret not marrying her than marrying her. 

If you truly mean that: marry her. You're far more likely to regret not marrying her than marrying her. 


Well spoken, thank you.

This is the most capable, intelligent, interesting, educated, successful, remarkable, attractive woman I have ever known. She walks into the room and before ever saying a word my mood climbs a notch higher. She laughs at all of my jokes (even the dumb ones), knows how to listen, and knows how to talk. She is patient, kind, understanding, honest, trustworthy, and impeccable about keeping her word.

The first time I heard something similarly beautiful I was watching a movie, Good will hunting where Robbin Williams is having a conversation is Matt Damon on the matter of love and death.

Melvinotis, there would be a big inheritance tax issue if you were unmarried, should one of you pass away.  Employers extend benefits to married spouses. There are several material reasons that seem to make it more financially viable in America to be married than not.  But that isn't what you are asking, is it?

I used to think that the commitment of a legal marriage meant that every morning my partner couldn't walk down the stairs and choose to still be with me.  There would have been a contractual obligation that would have been quite compelling.  It seemed to me that the choice in the relationship would somehow be sullied by that certificate.  But looking back, that was just a load of rationalising because I had not yet met my wife.

In my case, my wife has had a history of abandonment and abuse.  I wanted her to feel safe, and to feel that I was committed to the relationship, which I was (and am).  For the first time in my life of serial monogamy, I realised that I could actually envisage growing old together with this person.  I felt quite certain that I would never get bored (which had probably been the main reason for my serial split-ups).  I wanted her to know I wasn't going anywhere, and I wanted to "prove" it - for her.  So we got married.  God wasn't there, incidentally.

Everyone's circumstances are unique to them.   I think you could talk to your partner, with an open mind, and see what she thinks the pros and cons are.  You might find that in her view it's heavily weighted to pros... or cons.  You have to have that kind of openness between you, if you are "committed to death".

Marriage is a contract, recognised by state, federal and international governments.  It gives the contracting parties a certificate of eligibility to many things. It doesn't have to be a religious marriage, does it?  So atheism is not really a problem.  It's just that you're not "feeling it" as they say.  You don't feel motivated to marry again.

Maybe you should ask yourself what you were hoping for when you posted.  Were you hoping for some new convincing argument that would make you dash to the town hall, or were you hoping that you would receive lots of support for eschewing marriage?  .

Smiles I hope you find your answer :)

Maybe you should ask yourself what you were hoping for when you posted.  Were you hoping for some new convincing argument that would make you dash to the town hall, or were you hoping that you would receive lots of support for eschewing marriage?  .

I have been tossing this around in my mind for a long time, we just had our 4th anniversary of meeting. There are many couples in our circle of friends who have long term relationships, some decades old, who seem to have beautiful lives together. In fact, they seem to be the happiest and most stable. This fact doesn't seem to have a bearing on their religious beliefs for the most part. 

That, coupled with the memories of my marriage (8 years, 2 of them good) and my earlier serial monogamy make it seem that the smart bet is not to get married. Further, I guess I was wondering if people thought that marriage was a religious construct codified into law and other institutions. 

We live in what I would call a 21st century village. 76% of the families are single woman parent as head of household. We have a thriving life with kids and many supportive neighbors and local friends. Those couples we know who are married struggle, seemingly constantly. Stories of women planning their release date based upon when the kids graduate. Men who cheat, or have other bad habits also seems to be the average. 

So its all twisting in my head, and I thought I would reach out to some clear thinkers. Let me define my question a little further:

Do you think that marriage is a religious concept, with all the negatives that might be associated with that, like absolution and support for bad habits and fuzzy thinking?

In the end, does that matter?

I truly value the clarity that I have found here on TA. What you all have to say may have no bearing at all on my final decision, but folks like you and GM and Colleen might help me to untwist what is already in my head. 

I don't think 21st century marriage is a religious contract.  Its a legal contract.  It gives you a free pass to certain benefits under law.  Good luck with that untangling :)

Yes, a marriage is first and foremost a legal contract presently and historically. I wish more people would treat it as such prior to getting married instead of after deciding to divorce. I had someone tell me recently that a prenuptial agreement kills the romance of marriage. I replied that it may be true, but I'm an adult and I want to make sure my obligations to my (hypothetical) partner are outlined now while my intentions are at their best. That's not to say that everyone needs a prenup, but everyone should be considering the extent of legal obligations and rights as an essential part of entering into any contract.

There is the ceremonial love and commitment aspect of it -- which can be beautiful and rewarding in its own right --, but you can do that in some form or another with or without a contract.  Given what divorce rates are, "'til death do us part" doesn't seem to be all that deeply binding anyway. The garble of marriage being a religious institution is just people mistaking the frosting for the cake.

If the need for such a legal contract suits the relationship, form that contract. If not... I don't know why anyone would enter unnecessary contracts.

RSS

Support T|A

Think Atheist is 100% member supported

All proceeds go to keeping Think Atheist online.

Donate with Dogecoin

Members

Forum

Science Isn't About Truth

Started by Ari E. S. in Philosophy. Last reply by Unseen 39 minutes ago. 17 Replies

Blog Posts

Dead man's Switch

Posted by Philip Jarrett on April 18, 2014 at 11:29pm 0 Comments

Videos

  • Add Videos
  • View All

Services we love

We are in love with our Amazon

Book Store!

Gadget Nerd? Check out Giz Gad!

Into life hacks? Check out LabMinions.com

Advertise with ThinkAtheist.com

© 2014   Created by Dan.

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service