Commitment doesn’t have to mean marriage

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      Marriage isn’t the only way to commit to someone.

   “When are you getting married?” and “What are you waiting for?” are both questions I hear weekly. I have been in a serious relationship for five years, and my partner and I are in no rush to tie the knot.

   Weddings can be fun, and I do want to get married one day, but other than the legal benefits (financial aid and taxes) and the fact I would no longer be judged by older generations, I don’t think marriage is that different from a committed relationship.

   You can still enjoy all the delights of a relationship without being married. Want to sleep next to one another every night? Cool. Want to spend every day with your best friend? Possible. Need a ride-or-die partner? You’ve got it. I can’t think of any perk only available to those who are married.

   The argument of getting married to “be with someone forever” isn’t one I can get behind. 

   I have no intention of ending my relationship soon, and I don’t need to be legally bound to my significant other to prove I am faithful.

   People who say they are starting their lives together when they get married don’t make sense to me. Were you not doing this before? 

   According to the American Psychological Association, about 40 to 50 percent of married couples in the U.S. divorce. I would rather spend plenty of time building a life as a couple before marriage, so we know exactly how we work together and won’t be surprised once we do get married.

   Religious beliefs may affect relationship plans if you’re opposed to living together before marriage; however, I encourage those of you in this situation to stay strong and make sure you know all the different aspects of your significant other’s personality before you jump into matrimony. 

   You may think you know how your partner acts when he or she is upset, but if you’ve only had minor fights, then you probably haven’t seen the worst.

    Don’t be afraid to bring up sensitive topics and push your partner’s buttons. See how you can problem solve together. It’s better to find out before you’re in too deep.

   If you are still in your early 20s, then you may want to consider building up your own life before becoming too committed. If you get married (or move in and become a stay-at-home partner) and fall into the 50 percent of couples who split up, then you might be in bad shape when you are on your own with no degree or steady job. 

   I understand wanting to build your life together. I am all for growing together as a couple, but make sure to take care of yourself as well. Life is unpredictable.

   Make sure if you decide to get married that you are doing it for you, and because you want to. Not because you think it is right, or that is what the next step in your relationship should be, but because you genuinely want to and are ready financially, mentally and on an educational level. Consider the pros and cons depending on your age and life situation. 

   Sometimes it is better to wait.