This question is mostly directed towards the atheists (as I know we have some non-athiests amongst us).

(FYI for the religious, atheists tend not to get married in churches but in a registry office or City Hall etc)

I'm not specifically talking about gay marriage, just marriage in general. 

Would you get married? Or have you got married for the legal privileges that go along with marriage and perhaps as a gesture of love to a special person. Maybe you are one of these people who feel as long as you are together thats all that matters?

Personally I am all for marriage as a romantic gesture and the legal benefits are just a really great bonus that go along with it. 

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Well personally I don't see the need to marry. As long as you love your significant other marriage is not needed, unless your in it for the benefits.
Myself and my wife got married at a Home Affairs Dept. We love each other but had been living together as a couple for 10 years beforehand. The main motivation was for the benefits. Actually getting married legally had no actual bearing on our relationship.

Well I don't think you have to say the "Till death do us part" part. 

Interested in what you said about making promises. I see a promise as a statement of intent at the time it is made, rather than an absolute guarantee. Even as an atheist, I sort of like the insha'allah thing (god willing). There are always going to be things that are out of our control - so I would suggest that there is never going to be a promise you know for sure you can keep. But you can declare your intent nonetheless.

Having been divorced, I see the marriage vow in this light - that when I made the commitment, it was my full intent to live it out. The fact that it didn't the first time, did not change my view on making the commitment based on my intent the second time. Actually, I think I made the commitment with more assurance because I had learned from the first experience and was better equipped to make that promise the second time around.

Even with that caveat, I am generally not a fan of making promises. If you say you're going to do something, you should do your best to do the thing. I want others to be able to rely on me, whether or not I utter "I promise" at the end. It can have value, I suppose, in communicating that this particular thing is of special importance, or emphasizing that you are going to put a real yeoman's effort into the thing.

I'm sure that attitude has something to do with my quaker roots. We were taught not to take oaths (we affirm, not swear). We were taught "let your yes mean yes and your no mean no."   Actually, a traditional quaker marriage doesn't have all the vows and promises. The guy and the gal just stand up during the meeting and declare their intent to be married and it's basically done (although there's almost always a more mainstream wedding too).

I also find the "til death do us part" an impossible promise to make.

My fiance and I have joked about changing it to "for at least a few years, and then as long thereafter as mutually desired."

: )

I'm a fan of marriage.  My husband and I are about to celebrate our 4th anniversary in a couple of weeks.  I personally am happier being married than being single.  But I know that many people don't feel the same way.  There are lots of people who like to date, or who are polyamorous, or who feel like they don't need a ceremony or paperwork to make their relationship more meaningful.  John and I got married while we were still Christians, and our wedding ceremony was very religious, so being married was important for us, socially, legally, and spiritually.  If we did it over now, the ceremony would be a lot different.  But I do appreciate the legal benefits that marriage provides, as well as just the feeling of security.  One of my best friends, however, was married, had a child, got divorced, but still lives with the guy because they are madly in love.  They have a great relationship and little family, it's just that marriage doesn't work for them.  So I think that if marriage is what you want and is best for your relationship and family, then go for it.  If it isn't, then don't.

My wife and I (both atheists)got married. I fully agree that marriage is not needed to have a lasting and committed relationship. Marriage is for some people and not for others. It's not a necessity, but I respect that it feels like the right thing to do for some people. In our case, we did it as a symbol of our love, and taking my surname made my wife feel even more a part of the family. We designed our own secular ceremony, and it was really quite beautiful. To me, it's all down to the individuals. Don't see the point? Great! Don't get married. But if you like the idea, I see no reason atheists can't or shouldn't get married. It isn't an inherently religious construct after-all.

hahaha, good one. :) 

I guess I never listed my surname here, just so TA didn't turn up when perspective employees googled my name. Sadly, that could still stand in the way of getting a job here... 

Hubby and I had both been married before. We went camping one weekend in northern Calif and tooled over to Reno to get married that Saturday. One reason for wanting to make it official at the time was because we each brought a young son into the relationship, and we wanted them and the extended families to know we were in this for the long haul. I didn't really expect it to change our relationship - and it didn't. Except that it did, in an indefinable way that surprised me. Even though our first marriages didn't pan out, it still made a difference to have made the public pronouncement.

I do think the legal/civil benefits of marriage are important - things like medical decisions, or inheritance. My husband is the person who knows me best, and should be in charge of those things. Outside of marriage, it can be quite complicated to create those legal relationships.

Ending a marriage is generally more difficult than ending a non-legally-binding relationship. This can be good or bad - it can mean working just a little harder to get through the rough patches, or it can mean staying together even when it's toxic. But those things can happen without the piece of paper as well.

It's been eleven years, and I'm glad we're married. I'm especially glad we only spent $150 that weekend - including the photography (a single polaroid) and the wedding dinner (burger and a beer at an OTB joint).

Was it the Irish who had a one year trial period after which the marriage could continue or dissolve?  I think that's a nice way to go about it.

No, I'm from Ireland and we defiantly don't have that here. You have to file for a divorce of annulment and its not a quick process. 

Marriage is great when that is what the people involved want and what works for them. Marriage like many other things isn't for everyone. I'm not married right now due to financial reasons. After I'm done with grad school (if I even get in next year) my partner and I will likely get married because that will be for us and our future the most logical thing to do.


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