Wedded bliss is no longer defined by one monogamous, straight couple cohabitating 'til death do they part. These days, whether you meet IRL or online, are monogamous or non-monogamous, live together or apart — and regardless of your gender or sexual identity — there infinite marriage styles to fit your lifestyle.
Despite recent social advances over the past 50 years, the institution of marriage, it is, at the core, archaic AF. For centuries, tying the knot was about shoring up alliances between families, consolidating land, and producing fit offspring to labor in the familial profession. It was only during the Enlightenment era that romantic love was widely popularized in the West as the goal behind matrimonial unions, and since then we've been culturally obsessed with landing the perfect love match.
Although there's always that super cynical way to look at marriage, plenty of folks keep on doing it because it makes them happier — and healthier. According to social scientists, married men tend to have better physical health, while married women tend to have better mental health than those who are not married, and folks who manage to marry their best friend are actually some of the happiest people around. (Go figure).
At the same time, however, there are plenty of reasons not to marry — and fewer and fewer Millennials are actually taking the plunge. But for those who are thinking about what marriage might look like for them, here at five different kind of marriage styles that work for couples across the country.
1The Poly Marriage
If you love to suck the juice out of life and revel in the richness of emotional and physical intimacy with multiple people, then a polyamorous marriage might be right for you. Poly people are also more likely to view jealousy a little differently than monogamous folks.
Bjarne Holmes, a psychologist at Champlain College in Vermont, surveyed 200 poly people and found no gender differences in rates of sexual and emotional jealousy, whereas monogamous men tend to be more jealous about sexual infidelity, and monogamous women tend to be more jealous of emotional infidelity. Still, it's important to note that being poly doesn't mean jealousy is off the table — just that communication about it is well honed and doubly important.
2The Swinging Marriage
The term may sound really 70s, but you don't have to be hitting up sleazy key parties every weekend to have an emotionally monogamous but sexually-permissive relationship. For folks who like a more traditional bond with some added below-the-belt action, a swinging marriage balances consensual non-monogamy with aspects of monogamy. Although every arrangement is up to the individual couple to hash out, some only have sex with others when their partner is around, and some can hit the sheets solo with whomever they please — as long as said sexing fits into the couple's agreed upon parameters and doesn't get too emotionally intimate.
3The Commuter Marriage
The commuter marriage is ideal for folks with careers that demand their presence in different places. Although it might seem that this option would foster a lower degree of commitment, a recent study of 97 married people who live apart for work reasons showed that the majority view their partner as integrated into their daily activities. Despite geographical separation, their emotional bonds remain strong, with 75 percent employing digital tools to connect on the regs and keep their partners with them. Because of apps like Snapchat and Skype, you don't have to physically be together to eat dinner together, watch a movie together, or even go to work together.
4The Living Apart Together Marriage
Many folks in commuter marriages view their situation as "living apart together," but you don't have to be in separate cities to tap into this relationship vibe. These days, an increasing number of older couples are finding that they do better in their own spaces while remaining committed. For those who enjoy quiet alone time and who have a sweet solo setup they don't want to disrupt, the LAT marriage can keep a lot of mystery alive in a relationship — and allow each partner to have their space.
5The Companionship Marriage
Yes, there are plenty of cliche jokes out there about how sexless marriage can be, but there is actually nothing wrong with two people who form a emotional and legal bond without sex. A companionship marriage can create emotional and financial stability regardless if you plan to have children, and, hey, what's wrong with having someone around to Netflix and chill with (in the very literal sense) all the time? This marriage style is ideal for folks who might fall under the ace umbrella, who might be physically unable to have sex, who don't view sex as a necessity in a relationship, or who are consensually non-monogamous and have found a partner they are emotionally but not sexually compatible with.
The bottom line is: if you have a unique lifestyle need, there's a marriage style that fits the bill. And if there isn't already? Just make one up.