I am avid reader of the blogs Living Single and Onely: Single and Happy. Bella DePaulo is so passionate and has prompted me to think about some things I previously took for granted. The one that has stood out to me the most is the issue of rights and benefits for people not in a romantic relationship, especially marriage. We have a long way to go still, but great progress has been made in the area of gay marriage. However, what about people who aren't partnered? Shouldn't they be able to add a close friend to their health insurance? Or what about those in an opposite-sex domestic partnership? At my place of employment, same-sex domestic partners can access benefits, but opposite-sex domestic partners cannot. Sure, opposite-sex couples are allowed to get married. But what if they aren't ready for that, or can't afford it?
I am pro-marriage equality, but for the past few years I've been convinced that I would never end up tying the knot. It just wasn't important to me and I think a lot of the traditions are sexist: Why does the woman have to wait for the man to propose? I know so many women who waited around for their partners for years. Why isn't it socially acceptable and normal for women to do the asking if marriage is their desire? And then there are the engagement rings. I refuse to wear one unless my fiance does. I am not a piece of property, I am not a prize (well, no more than he is). Either we both wear engagement rings, or we both go ringless until the wedding day.
Anyway, you get my point. Marriage was never something I "needed." It was never a life goal, and I'd never break up with my partner for not wanting to get married. We'd probably just continue living together indefinitely, which is perfectly acceptable to me.
BUT (yes, there is a but), since we started sharing a residence two months ago, I've been noticing all these little things that would just be easier if we were married. For example, he doesn't have health insurance. I've checked and double checked, but there's no way to add him to my policy unless we get married or are over 62, and that is a looooong way off.
Then there is the matter of grocery shopping. How do we split the bills? Do I pay for my stuff, and he pays for his? Or do we just divide it down the middle? Sometimes we eat totally different things (I'm vegetarian and he is not), but sometimes we cook for each other. What then? Or what about the housewarming gift cards we got from my parents that were to both of us? How do we keep track of ownership of that stuff? So far whenever we want something for the house, one of us buys it so we know who it belongs to in the event of a breakup. If we were married this stuff wouldn't matter so much because everything would be "ours."
On top of these issues, there are the smaller ones that sneak up on me and make my heart twinge a little. Last weekend was F's nephew's birthday party, and we signed the card "Uncle F and AMT." A little part of me was sad that I wasn't "Auntie AMT." And even though F's family has been nothing but kind and welcoming to me, I still feel like an outsider. I like his family so much and sometimes wish I belonged in a way that only a spouse can.