Define “Marriage”.

How do you guys feel about marriage? 

My husband and I have been married for 10 years. We had a small ceremony in Vegas which was an absolute blast! The wedding was important to me — I liked the pledge of commitment and celebration of love — but it was certainly not a necessity. We had been living together for a while so it’s not like anything really changed. Our wedding is an awesome memory that we will always share together. But let’s be real — having a baby together was the bigger commitment.

So what is marriage? How should it be defined?

I’m going to confess a guilty pleasure — I love the TLC show, Sister Wives. I am so fascinated by it. You can’t get any further away from my own life which is probably why I can’t look away. 

Believe it or not, I don’t think polygamists should have to hide. I think it should be perfectly legal. (Obviously, I’m not talking about the Warren Jeffs child bride variety here, but for the adult women who freely choose this lifestyle.)

Okay, I’m not going to lie — I’m watching season 2 of Big Love on Prime Video as I write this as well. It’s probably why this post idea is in my head in the first place.

Marriage equality passing a few years back was a huge step forward for the US, but I really feel the government shouldn’t have a big say in what defines marriage. If it includes consenting adults and no one is getting harmed in any way then I guess I don’t see anything wrong with it.

What do you guys think?

I never dreamed about my wedding as a little girl and I really hope my daughter won’t either. One day shouldn’t be the end all be all. I had dreams about my career and traveling, and well, that hasn’t changed. Those are things I still have a lot of hope for. I think it is so important for little girls to work on being a self-sufficient individual with meaningful goals. Aim high. That’s something you have to tackle before you bring another person into the picture.

I also hate how marriage is an expected milestone — just one of the required steps to a fulfilled life, right?  It is absolutely not necessary and let’s be honest, those thousands of dollars people spend on a big wedding could probably be better spent elsewhere. A down payment on a nice house for example. Experiences like traveling or taking up a hobby together, etc.

My husband just came in the room and offered a million different scenarios of marriages that could be legal if the law went by the perimeter I stated above — consenting adults and no one is being harmed.

I will try my best not to judge.

Marriage is often tied to religion, but if you take the religious element out, I think people should be allowed to organize their family how they wish.

How do you define marriage or should marriage even be a thing? 


  1. says

    Obviously, I’m not talking about the Warren Jeffs child bride variety here, but for the adult women who freely choose this lifestyle.

    Adult women? It should be “adult people”? There’s no reason why such a relationship ought to be one guy with multiple wives, instead it can be any combination of people of any gender.

    Personally, I intend to remain non married for my entire life. I don’t plan to give anybody else a legal right to decide about my property. Nor am I interested in co-owning anything. Nor do I want to risk that someday I will need to pay lots of money to divorce lawyers. Just because I have sex with the same person for years in a row doesn’t mean that therefore we need shared finances or shared property.

    I am aware that other people, especially those who have children, perceive the legal protections granted to married people as beneficial and worth it. Overall, a marriage has both benefits and drawbacks/risks. Thus everybody should decide for themselves what they want. I am also aware that other people care about the sentimental value of marriage.

    • ashes says

      You are absolutely right; it should be “adult people”. I don’t want to exclude anyone, and I do agree that marriage is a personal choice. It’s not for everyone and it’s definitely not required for any relationship.

      I admire your decision — it sounds well thought out. I’m not sure what it is like where you live but here it feels like marriage is expected. I think it would be hard to go against the grain.

  2. says

    Civil Marriage brings with it a whole raft of legal mutual benefits and obligations.
    Applying those to the marriage of any two adult individuals was obvious.

    It’s not at all obvious how some of those benefits should be applied in extended marriages (those involving more than two adults).

    I’m not saying that the state shouldn’t decide to officially acknowledge extended marriages. But I think there needs to be some public discussion as to exactly what it means. A few examples:

    Consider a child born to someone in an extended marriage. Do all members of the extended marriage automatically have full parental rights and responsibilities for that child?

    Is it possible for one member of an extended marriage to divorce the others, leaving the remaining members still married? Or does any divorce in an extended marriage dissolve the commitments between all members of the marriage?

    If a married couple later married a third person, in the event of a divorce does that third person have a one third stake in the joint property from the start of the couple’s marriage, or only from when the time that the third person married the couple?

  3. kestrel says

    This is a fascinating question and I want to think about it before responding to your main question. I just want to respond about polygamy, right now.

    I grew up around polygamists and it was not a pretty sight. I get what you’re saying about consenting adults; the big issue for me is the children, who have not consented. Also, those consenting adults can change their minds once they are inside the polygamous marriage and see how it actually works (as opposed to dolled up versions that we can see on TV, or that they heard about, that convinced them to try it). There are usually lots and lots of children in such marriages, and simply not enough resources or time for everyone. I’ve also read lots of first-hand accounts by people who grew up in polygamy, and even in different parts of the country, different countries and so on, the lack of resources and parental time with the child is very sadly similar. I think that such situations could possibly work out OK for the children, but at this time I’m not aware of a real-life situation where it actually did.

    • ashes says

      I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the show, “19 Kids and Counting”, but in that family, the older kids care for the younger kids. There are just too many kids for the parents to really take care of everyone and it’s sad because it seems the older kids miss out on a childhood — or at least their teenage years.

      A lot of planning went into my own family. My husband and I discussed our plans for having kids when we were considering getting engaged. I think it’s reckless to have more kids than you can take care of.

    • dangerousbeans says

      the big issue for me is the children, who have not consented

      that’s true for all children born into all relationship structures. if you assume you know well enough to create a person it’s hardly a stretch to assume that your current environment is a good one for them

  4. Pierce R. Butler says

    Marriage as a legal institution seems most useful in a bad-case scenario: when one partner dies or becomes disabled, the other has a clear path to take charge of property, children, medical decisions, etc.

    In a three- or more-some, lots and lots of things need to be worked out in such cases: a big problem in general, and particularly so if the survivors/functional partners disagree. Bring on the lawyers and judges!

    Perhaps, after enough court cases and enough marital contracts, we’ll see a set of rules evolve that provide some equitable principles in these situations. I suggest that until such time, those who want to make major commitments to more than one partner will need to work out, write out, and regularly revisit individualized agreements covering multiple contingencies, which we might casually call “marriage” but won’t match the specific terms presently understood by that word at present.

    Also, we have a general social question to consider. These arrangements seem to mostly involve a one-man-multiple-women pattern, which typically leaves other men with no opportunity to form a family. Unless we have more same-sex relationships among men than women, or (the common historical scenario) lots of young men getting killed off in wars, this will produce lots of societal stresses and damned few benefits (except to wealthy patriarchs).

  5. Chris J says

    My fiancee and I have been talking about this every so often, for obvious reasons. I’m don’t particularly care much about the ceremony and social aspects of being married, while they are. Since I’m ambivalent, we’re doing a ceremony. 😛 Still, the legal benefits are hard to say no to, and I personally like the idea of working together with someone financially.

    To me, marriage as a legal institution probably doesn’t need to exist, unless of course that what we as a society want to incentivize. I don’t think it is, given that we are worried about people claiming to be married for legal benefits but not actually living together or sharing expenses. I’d rather see the legal benefits for, say, raising children tied to having children. The ones for sharing home expenses tied to joint ownership of a home. The ones for finances related to choosing to file taxes together. Etc.

    There are so many different ways people define marriage, even just their own (or own lack of). No reason the government needs to pick one definition to stick to.

  6. dangerousbeans says

    i would define marriage as a patriarchal, hetero-normative, cis-normative institution designed to control “women”* for the purposes of producing children. so i’m not in favour of it.

    as for how it should be handled as a legal construct, i can’t really see a good option. i’m inclined to just have it as individual legal contracts, but that would have consequences for people who don’t plan ahead for when the relationship dissolves.

    *AFAB people, not actual women

  7. says

    Marriage is nothing more than sideways adoption. The only thing it “offers” is legal control oc someone’s life, and that’s usually a male benefit. I won’t say a word about civil unions, but common as relationships are the way I would go with the right man – they give partners power you might want them to have or cede to them, but are much easier to get out of.

    For multiple easy- and not-so-easy-to-guess reasons, I’ve never had a serious relationship, never mind considered marriage. I’m glad I never had the baggage or the obligations because I certainly wasn’t ready for a partner, never mind kids. I witnessed a sibling pushed into a loveless marriage (by catholic sperm and egg donors) because she was pregnant.

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