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Commitment Without Marriage: Is it possible?

Updated on December 19, 2012

I Love You!

When I looked up synonyms for commitment I found words such as (promise, pledge, loyalty, obligation, dedication, and assurance) but no mention of the word marriage. And yet many people consider couples that are together without marriage, to be in “uncommitted relationships”.

Recently I saw the movie Think Like A Man in which one of the couples had been together in a (monogamous) relationship for nine years and living together for most of those years. However the woman in the relationship was upset because her man had not “committed” (in her eyes). He had not asked her to get married.

We live in an era where the divorce rate hovers around 50%, infidelity is close to being the norm, and countless other marriages are devoid of intimacy often converting spouses into something resembling roommates or siblings. One would think that being in a lasting loving monogamous relationship is the result of two people being committed to one another. What does commitment really mean?

Do you believe there can be commitment without marriage?

Not long ago I posed the aforementioned question. I got a small variety of answers. On the one hand some people answered yes to the possibility of couples being committed to each other without being married. However there were those who felt they needed something in (writing) that would say to the world they belong to each other.

Psychological Promotion

This need to have the world view our relationship as being on the highest rung of the relationship ladder has little to do with what is actually taking place with the couple. Oftentimes people say marriage is taking things to “the next level” as though someone in love with you will love you more because your title has been changed from girlfriend to wife or from boyfriend to husband. For these people marriage is not so much about them as a couple but more about how the world sees them. It’s a psychological promotion. The wedding ceremony, the marriage license, and the exchange of rings offer no “guarantees”. If they did there would be no such thing as divorce. Close to 50% of those “forever” commitments made on paper are worth no more than those in non-married relationships that fail. (or are they?)

Legal Protection

One of the respondents to my question regarding commitment without marriage stated she thought it was possible but it did not offer legal protection. Very interesting!

Marriage is not about love, monogamy, length of time together, or promises of forever, also known as “commitment”. It’s about legal protection? Ironically the woman who answered using the words "legal protection" is on her third marriage.

Essentially marriage is a (prenuptial agreement) sanctioned by the state or country one resides in. In the event there is a death or a divorce you are entitled to get “something” whether it be homes, cars, spousal support/alimony, life insurance, social security, pension and so forth.

As one woman said: “He can’t just walk away after taking up ten years of your life!

By Any Means Necessary

Those of us who view marriage as commitment merely based upon its legal financial benefits have lost sight that all relationships or marriages are “at will”. Each person is entitled to have their own “deal breakers” whether it be cheating, abuse, or reckless irresponsibility which constantly jeopardizes their financial stability. The notion of keeping someone with you due to the difficulties they would encounter having to go through legal channels is seen by many people as a “trap”. Needless to say a trap that fails 50% of the time can’t be considered too effective.

Love and affection are things which are given freely. I have never understood why anyone would be insistent on marrying someone who did not want to marry him or her! Every marriage will have its share of challenges but at the very least a marriage should start off with (both) people wanting to get married!

Paper vs Actions

Anyone who has been in an exclusive long-term relationship expects their mate to be loving and faithful. Being married does not prove a couple is committed to one another. It’s the staying together through ups and downs that illustrates commitment. Whether a couple is like Kurt Russell & Goldie Hawn who have been living together for 30 years or a couple that exchanged wedding vows this past weekend, a commitment is written in the hearts and minds of the people making it. Only time can determine how committed one is. Whatever one may call a relationship without marriage which has lasted for years, the one thing they cannot say is the couple hasn’t demonstrated commitment.

Do you believe there can be commitment without marriage?

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