I, like more than 12 million other Americans, am part of an unmarried cohabitating couple. And, like a great many of those 12 million people, I am totally sick of being asked one question: "When are you going to get married?" Though I live in New York City, I still get asked pretty much every day why I'm not married. Friends ask me. Neighbors ask me. My dad and stepmother made the question the centerpiece of two consecutive family Thanksgivings. A few years ago, I had a boss ask me what my boyfriend (who I had been dating for three years at the time) had given me for Christmas. "Was it a ring?" she said, leadingly. "No," I replied, "it was a Roku."
And these are the people I like! We haven't even touched on distant relatives, random busybodies, and other folks who don't even know my boyfriend's name, but somehow feel very invested in the specific mechanics of how we commit to each other. I love my boyfriend, and I plan on staying with him forever (or at least until New York City gets washed into the ocean by a giant tidal wave like in The Day After Tomorrow), but I don't know if or when we'll get married. And I don't understand how that fact is up for criticism, debate, or inquiry —especially by some random lady at a friend's birthday party who suddenly turns into Sherlock Friggin' Holmes at the first sign of someone not fitting into cultural norms.
Though marriage offers many, many practical benefits, most of the time, the choice to get married is an emotional one. And the choice to not get married is, at heart, an emotional one, too. Our reasons for not being married range from the petty to the lofty and philosophical, just like the reasons that any married person has for being married. But they're our reasons. As the great married lady Charlotte York-Goldblatt once said, "I choose my choice!"
So even if you get hit with the 13 questions below, hold your head up, my unmarried comrade. Don't let the marriage police get you down!
"When are you going to get married?"
If I said "Right now," could I get out of this conversation? Also, why do you care? Aren't my boyfriend and I the only people who have the right to care about this question?
"Are you going to do it now that Brad and Angelina did it?"
Yes, because if we don't, it's going to make our weekly couples backgammon nights with them soooooo awkward.
"Is this because he hasn't proposed?"
No, though it would be really interesting if I was progressive enough to be cool hanging around unmarried to this guy the rest of my life, but traditional enough to believe that only a guy can propose, right? Oh, wait, no, I meant I different word: RIDICULOUS. That would be ridiculous. Also: no.
"Is this about marriage equality?"
Not really! I mean, I am committed to the fight for marriage equality, and the idea that certain people are left out of marriage in America definitely made me less interested in participating in that system. But I won't wake up the morning gay marriage is finally legal in all 50 states and run out to the Elvis Chapel in Las Vegas to put a ring on it! Marriage equality is about giving everyone the right to marry, not about forcing everyone to marry, don't you think?
"Is this a tax thing?"
I guess I'm flattered that you think I understand enough about taxes to make life choices based on them? But also: no.
"Don't you love each other enough to get married?"
I'm not lying about not wanting to get married just because I don't like my partner enough to actually marry him! Not everything in life is 500 Days of Summer, you know!
"Is it because you're afraid of getting divorced?"
I hate to blow your mind here, but when a long-time unmarried partnership breaks up, it's as painful as when a marriage breaks up. It's almost as if you can somehow grow emotionally close to someone and build a life together without jointly filing taxes. It's bananas, I know.
"But don't you think having a wedding would be fun?"
I think that, for me personally, spending that money on a long vacation somewhere warm would be more fun. But hey, you do you (this is the part where you are supposed to tell me to do me, right?)
"What will you do if one of you dies?"
I hope to stay among the living for a long time. But should anything go wrong, I have left my boyfriend as my beneficiary on all my retirement accounts, written a will, and filed other financial documents for unmarried people that will entitle him to receive all my $37.72 in savings should I get mowed down by a city bus.
"What's the real reason that you don't want to get married?"
Because I could never look as cool doing it as Corey and Topanga did. But seriously, I have refrained from ever asking anyone why they're getting married (and sometimes, I seriously do wonder) — so why can't I get the same courtesy?
"You know I can't let you two stay in the same room when you visit, right?"
You know what? I will simplify this even further by sleeping in neither of your rooms, and just canceling the visit and sleeping together in our room at home! Then you can use your guest rooms for your many hobbies, like knitting or being wrong-headedly self-righteous.
"Does this mean you think I'm selfish/bad/annoying for getting married?"
No! It's not about you. I swear, my entire life isn't just some long con designed to pass judgment on your life choices, okay? I go to the gym and have dinner with friends and I watch American Horror Story religiously — and all that leaves me barely any time to turn my life into an elaborate trick on my married friends, a la that movie The Game.
"Aren't you scared of getting older and still being single?"
1. No, and 2. I AM NOT SINGLE! Do you genuinely think that unmarried couples are just like roommates who say "Hey" to each other in the hallway in between Tinder dates? Frankly, I am starting to wonder if you're mature enough to be married, friend.
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