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. 

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So we got married.  God wasn't there, incidentally.

I am sure you left the doG at home for the honeymoon too.

Thank you Nate, that was excellent.

I think Colleen says it very well.

I've personally been with my "husband" for 14 years now. We are in no way married. I started calling him my husband about 4 years ago after we had our daughter. We both found that this created a lot less confusion and odd looks from people when you try to explain who your significant other was to you. In fact I didn't even announced it are anything. I just started call him that more and more over time. So when I called him that around my parents for the first time they lost it, thinking we eloped or something and never told them. lol.

At first we were still in high school when I had been talking about marriage with him, we had been together for 3 years at that point. However as time progressed I stared pushing it back with reasons like, college, money, and other things. After I had our daughter right on our 10 year anniversary I was kind of getting depressed. Something else had just pushed our marriage back again. And it made be feel terrible for thinking it. So I started addressing the issue. This was also the time when my atheism was really staring to bloom. There was also a lot of gay rights talking floating about too. I felt bad for these people but at the same time I didn't. I soon started to realize. I don't need to be legally recognized by someone or thing as a united couple. Why should I? It's my life. We're fine just the way things are. Why should I care what others think about it?

My parents and other people have stated it would be easier financially to just 'get it done'. I have never looked into how much of a benefit I would receive my getting married because then it becomes a nagging financial obligation. That's not the point of marriage. Yes I'm sure there are things that are possibly unavoidable legally. I have yet to run into it. For instance I had to jump though a lot of hoops to get my work to recognize my partner for my non health benefits.
I think someday I very well may get married to him, or at least have a ceremony for us. I'm not sure just yet.
Bottom line is simply do what you feel is best for you. Don't let any one else idea of what is right dictate what you do. It sounds like you have a lovely relationship and a wonderful lady at your side.

what being a married atheist means

Tax cuts and legal recognition of partnership.

I've been married for about 8 months now and I can see no difference between our lives before marriage and our lives after marriage. Before marriage we were a defacto couple under Australian law, after marriage we are a married couple under Australian law. Very little changed.

Marriage means she gets half of what you have if you split up unless you get a prenuptial agreement. 

Bottom line it's just a piece of paper showing the govt that you're with someone. This way they can find new ways to reach into your pockets. or reach further down

I don't think I'll get married again. I'll just find a woman I don't like and give her a house.
-- Lewis Grizzard

Marriage protects children, though it does tend to do so mostly when the marriage fails. The idea is that divorce is an emotional affair with the parties often acting irrationally and fighting over the children. A court then can step in and advocate for the children, making rational choices on their behalf and forcing the parties to agree to certain commitments in support of the children.

That's the theory, but as the Indian chief said in Little Big Man, "sometimes the magic works and sometimes it doesn't."

I think on the whole it's a good idea for people to marry if they intend to have children. Otherwise, not so much. 

Your situation is different and it sounds like the kids are no longer terribly young, so it probably makes no difference. In many states, simply by living with someone and their children you get treated as if you were married even if you break up! I've heard of men ending up with child support payments even if they didn't live with the mother and her children if the relationship was fairly long term and even if their interaction with the children was fairly minimal.

The state tends to want to find monetary support for children even if the relationship with the kids was  borderline imaginary. 

Prenuptial agreement first, State sanctioned marriage (property) contract second.

Marriage is pretty much a "state of mind"--except for the legal aspects.  You are already committed, and therefore already "married."  Signing a paper to make it legal would only make life easier for you. 

The "gun shy" aspect you speak of is, as I mentioned, just a "state of mind" for you.  Nothing should change once that paper is signed, unless you believe somehow that it will.  We can and do manifest our thoughts--but we don't have to.  It's up to you. 

Thank you everyone for your comments, they reflect much of what has been going on in my own head. This is an intensely personal decision which I brought out into an open forum -- and I am glad I did so. I will be discussing the pros and cons with my girlfriend when the time is right, and we'll decide together what is best for us. I'm sure I'll start the conversation in a way that seems pretty traditional though.

I think that most everyone thinks of this as more than a simple contract. With or without religious baggage, it has far reaching advantages, consequences, and collateral effects. When this decision is not fully thought out, the consequences seem to win out over the advantages as we seem to find out over and over and over again.

On the other hand, no one should make the decision so dry as to be devoid of feeling and better done by an accountant. I think.


Penn Jillette just recently got a "legal" marriage to insure the "rights" of his and his wife's children.

The legal protection of the children is indeed something to consider where there are children involved or planned.

If it is just two persons involved then a well thought out legal property contract is a much better way to go then the States standard contract for obvious reasons.

But children add a much more complex set of possible circumstances that must be considered, good luck.

Yes, when there are children or children are planned, it's prudent just plain responsible to get married. Bear in mind that, barring some problem with the character of one of the parents, the one making the most money will likely end up paying child support (in addition, potentially, to alimony) and the one with the most available time to be with the kids will likely end up with custody.


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