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Parallax - Advice            October 16, 2000



  She wants to live with him - he wants marriage

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My boyfriend can't wait to get married, but I'm anti-marriage - with anyone, not just him. I think it's a failed institution, and I don't think people need a piece of paper to say what they mean to each other. I still want to be with him forever - have kids and everything else - I just don't want to get married. I can't stand the thought of divorce, and the fact that fifty percent of people get divorces. I think I'd like the 'Tim Robbins-Susan Sarandon deal' - they're not married, but have three kids together. My boyfriend is very traditional, and won't hear of such an arrangement - he says he will never be comfortable with that. He's trying to change my mind and I'm trying to change his. What should I do? I really love him, but I'm totally opposed to what is a silly ritual.

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Her view:

Dear Ms. Opposed,

Get married. If you think it's such a silly ritual and is meaningless, get married to please your boyfriend. It doesn't matter to you anyway - just think of it as a big party. Wouldn't you want to do what you could to please your boyfriend anyway? If you love him, give him this, because it means something to him.

If you want to be together forever - have kids, the whole deal - you might as well have the party. To lose a guy you love - over what I have to admit here is a little bit of a jaded view I think with time you may grow out of - would be sad. So do the whole thing - elope if it makes you feel better. I think you'll regret not having him in five years, when you finally realize this 'no marriage' rule is flawed.

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His view:

Dear Ms. Opposed,

I doubt you'll be able to change his mind because your logic seems flawed. I don't disagree that marriage is a silly ritual, but to lose the man you love and want to have kids with - over an argument in principle - seems even sillier.

Divorce isn't caused by marriage - it's caused by incompatibilities. If your relationship is doomed to fail, getting married or staying unmarried will not change that. In fact, some may argue that being married forces people to try harder at resolving problems. But even if that's not true, not getting married because you might get divorced, is as clever as not taking a new job because you might get fired.

Making a stand on marriage may be romantic in your mind, but it is not going to help your would-be husband or your kids. How old will they be before they can understand why their parents aren't married? How much teasing and insults will they bear from other kids who don't understand?

I say you should get married in a simple quiet ceremony, and if it really bothers you, pretend you're not married. Your other option is to keep looking for the right sort of man…you know, those men who grow on trees and fall in love with you, but don't want to marry you.

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