The fact that it's permanent. Being common law means that when you part ways, you each take what you brought in and go. Some people think it's the same as marriage, but legally it's not. The law doesn't force you to take on the obligations of a commitment you haven't formally made. You also don't have all the same protections. It's different in that way.
It's also different in the way others view your relationship. Before it wouldn't be unheard of for our respective family members to assume it'd be natural for us to travel separately or consider we'd be fine with being apart on the holidays. Now since our engagement it's understood we stick together.
A breakup wouldn't be a breakup. It'd be a divorce. We're not just thinking about the next couple years, we're thinking about the rest of our lives. There's no potential dating or romance prospects on the horizon. It's all about nurturing this relationship until we die. This is the one person in the whole world that I'll rely on above all others. This is my lifetime go-to person for companionship, comfort and planning my future. And I'll be his.
It's a definitive end to an era of my life and I'm increasingly floored by it. I'm not getting cold feet or the like, but I'm really taking it in. It's the most serious commitment I've ever made. Picking a college and a program was something, but it just required a few years of my time. Choosing apartments has always been temporary. Getting kitties is about a 15-year commitment, give or take. The only thing that would be a bigger life choice than marriage is having children. Even if you change your mind on that one or it's not working out, tough beans.
When I was a girl, I thought I would marry around 25 and be a mother at 28. Now I'll be nearly 29 when I marry and who knows when I'll have kids. I'd like it give it at least a little time after marriage to get on that.
Seems to me a lot of people don't take having kids as seriously as they do getting married. I get when people can't afford a great wedding, they want a great wedding and they figure they'll wait and save up and have children in the meantime. Not my personal choice, but I don't have a problem with it. It's one road to Rome. But there are others who will have a child with someone and then want to live together and will fret over whether to risk marriage with this person when marriage is the lesser commitment next to parenthood.
Marriage used to be the first step in a life together. Now it's nearly the last. People want to be financially secure first, buy their home, rather than start with nothing together and then begin to build wealth, like our grandparents did. Of course our grandparents were expected to remain chaste till marriage, so waiting till later wasn't very palatable. Without that requirement in society anymore, people are more concerned with having the wedding they want. I guess it's the sign of a more affluent society.
For the Dude and I, it's sort of middle ground between the two. We're not financially secure yet, but by getting married, we'll save and build together rather than separately. But it hasn't been the first step. We've already been living together.
The Dude had this idea about being more stable prior to marriage, but it's really hard to live with someone and juggle bills while keeping finances separate and doing it in the name of a boyfriend instead of a husband, where your investment of time and effort is not necessarily going into a permanent shared household, but essentially just another person as there is no formal link between the two of you.
I really am happily anticipating the stability of marriage. Things feel secure now, but really that feeling only really came into being around the time we got engaged. I'm a planner and now we can really get planning: vacations, a house, children, the Dude's business, life in general. It's a final decision about our relationship: we're keeping it. Done looking.
I suppose I'm just musing. It's not just the wedding I've been planning. Lots of talk and discussion has been going into the planning of the marriage.