Not Quite Married, Not Quite Not


As someone who had a city hall marriage service followed by a wedding a year later, I think there is a lot to be said for the in-between relationship status (what can I say? I like baby steps). Because sometimes when you’re not ready to move from one stage to the next, but you still want something to signify an increased commitment to your partner, the next logical answer is just to carve out an intermediary status all your own and claim it (which we’ve talked a little about previously when discussing why “pre-engaged” is a thing and why, for that first year of “marriage” I called Michael my husfriend). And that is exactly what Kelly and R. did. But Kelly’s post today is about more than just filing for a domestic partnership (though to be clear: RAD). It’s also about creating the definition of your partnership, and then finding a way to assert that definition to the world. Which really, baby steps or big steps, I think that might secretly be what we’re all doing here right? So let’s discuss.

–Maddie for Maternity Leave

Not Quite Married, Not Quite Not | A Practical Wedding

Last Summer, after R. had finished his MFA and I had finished my MA, after he had been searching for a job with no success and I had been working one with a bigger salary than I needed, we hit a point where he could no longer pay his rent. We had been living together for more than two years, talking about our wedding as it would be, not as it might be, and it felt like we had been waiting and waiting for the right time to get engaged and start planning this hypothetical wedding. So when push came to shove, and it was time to make a difficult decision, I knew I wanted to cover him, protect him. I made the decision that I was ready to tie my life to his, formally and permanently. But my feminist upbringing and the voice of my mother nagged me. How could I give so much money to a man with nothing to back me up? I had nothing to prove he wouldn’t take the money and run. It seemed like a huge step to take with no documentation of our relationship. So I did what any modern-day lady would do. I went to Google. And that night, I sat him down, and told him I wanted to get a domestic partnership. And he said, “Okay.”

This is not the fairy tale I had in my head. There was no magic proposal where he suddenly told me he could afford a ring and wanted to get married and live happily ever after. Sometimes a wedding (or a not-really-wedding) is just, well, practical. I thought a lot about buying him a ring, maybe even eloping, but we both felt strongly that while our future marriage was about us, a wedding was about our community and the opportunity to share our commitment with them. We still wanted the chance to celebrate with them when the time was right and when we could afford it. So we talked, and kept talking, and really hashed out why this was important to us, why we felt we needed an intermediate step between “relationship” and “marriage.” We talked about what marriage meant to us, and realized we were sort of already there. For us, it wasn’t about the state or our church giving us a whole bunch of rights and recognitions; it was about making a choice to be together, no matter what—unemployment and rent and utilities and groceries and all.

On July 1, 2011, we took the six train downtown and registered as domestic partners in the City of New York. We went alone. We didn’t tell anyone but my parents. We weren’t sure anyone else would understand the decision. We were getting married but we weren’t. We were making a choice that was right for us, but that didn’t fit the neat little picture they show you of what it means to choose to be together. It was intensely personal, but truly public.

I felt so strange, being there together, surrounded by happy couples in their white dresses with their entourages. This was just a few days after same-sex marriage had become legal in New York, and the clerk looked at us like he’d never seen a straight couple get a domestic partnership before. Which made me sad, because I think domestic partnership can be a perfectly valid and important step in joining two lives together, but in the past it’s been used as a consolation prize for LGBT couples, a way to say, “Sorry, you can have some, but not all.” And while I personally think domestic partnership is awesome, it also made me so proud that all the people in line in front of us in New York finally had the option to “upgrade” their status to married, as we one day hoped to do.

In the end, the whole thing felt monumental but tremendously anticlimactic at the same time. When it was over we took a few pictures, went out for a meal, and went home. Life went on. My brother had a beautiful wedding a few months later, and I cried all day.

I know it was the right decision for us, and over time it has softened in my heart. I have shared it casually with a few people, all of whom reacted positively. I started to call R. my partner, instead of my boyfriend. It feels truer. And the tough stuff that lead us to the decision only intensified. In the past year we’ve dealt with more unemployment, I lost two grandmothers in three months, and our financial situation has become strained at times. There have been days I want to just go out and buy my own damn ring and call everyone we know to declare, “We’re getting married! Finally!” But I had my moment to declare our love, and I did it privately. I’m stable, I have what I need. It’s R.’s turn now to reach a point where he feels solid, where he can make the decision to propose, and share what we already know with everyone else. I owe him that. And while some days the waiting feels like carrying around an elephant, and all I want is something to feel happy about, it is always a comfort to know that he’s there, no matter what. That even if I can’t tick “married” on my tax return, I can tick it in my head. And that when we are ready to go public, it will have been worth the wait.

Photo from Kelly’s personal collection

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  • http://www.superfantastic.blogs.com Superfantastic

    Good for you for taking the step that felt right for the two of you and where you are in your lives right now. I think partner is such a better term than any of the alternatives. We’re in the weird limbo right now of having done the legal marriage for military and insurance purposes back in June in a surreal five minute Do you? Do you? ceremony while our wedding is next month. We haven’t known what to call each other for the past few months, but partner really covers all of it.

    • KC

      I think the only problem with “partner” in the US, is that in some circles, the first meaning that pops into peoples’ heads is “business partner”, like “partner in a law firm”, since that was the predominant meaning for perhaps a kind of long time. And that ambiguity can cause its own set of confusions, especially if you own a small business (with or without your partner!)…

  • http://misshappnstance.wordpress.com Miss Happ

    Wow. Thank you so much for sharing this. It’s an option I’ve never even thought of. Formalizing the between stage. Very cool.

    This part “But my feminist upbringing and the voice of my mother nagged me. How could I give so much money to a man with nothing to back me up? I had nothing to prove he wouldn’t take the money and run. ”
    It needs to start being OK for women to support men, without the men being labled as “deadbeats” or “users”
    It needs to start being OK for a woman to trust her partner, and not worry (or have people around her worry) that he is somehow secretly evil and going to take her for all she’s got and leave her with nothing, simply because she is more stable financially than he.
    It needs to be OK, and it needs to not require justification that two people can work together to support one-another, and thrive as a team, richer/poorer/sickness/health regardless of gender.
    I love that APW explores and supports these kinds of choices, that further the discussion, because, honestly, it needs to start being OK.

    • KB

      “It needs to start being OK for a woman to trust her partner, and not worry (or have people around her worry) that he is somehow secretly evil and going to take her for all she’s got and leave her with nothing, simply because she is more stable financially than he.”

      See, I think the exact opposite – or maybe an “also” – I think it needs to be ok to say, “Hey, I don’t want to support you if we’re not married or on-our-way to married.” It doesn’t mean that I don’t have faith in us or our future, but honestly, stuff happens. And sometimes it’s not you protecting yourself from your potentially-evil partner, but protecting your partner from yourself. For example, what if you support your partner with the understanding that you’re going to get married, but then your partner, for entirely justifiable reasons, has second-thoughts about getting married? I can totally see myself feeling taken advantage of – or my partner feeling pressured to get married because our finances are tied up together. I realize that, for other people, keeping finances entirely separate before marriage just isn’t practical – but that’s why I love this post, it recognizes the gap and offers a great solution that provides some sort of protection.

      • Jaya

        It probably just needs to be ok for a woman to make any of those decisions without feeling judged. Feel like supporting your partner without a ring on your finger, and you’re labeled a bad feminist who’s not protecting herself. Demand something on paper before you join bank accounts (or really, if you just feel like having a say in your relationship status) and you’re a bad feminist who cares too much about marriage and labels. How about we start trusting women to know what’s right for them?

        • http://misshappnstance.wordpress.com Miss Happ

          And how about women starting to trust themselves, to know what’s right for them, their partner, and their partnership?

          • Heather

            That part also stood out to me.

            I went through the same internal struggle of trust and mistrust for the two years that my husband and I bought and lived in a house together before we became engaged and married. I had the money for the down payment and initial renovations, he did not. Over time we came to share the house costs, but I still had the nagging voice of my older relatives from years past.

            At the same time my husband struggled initially with accepting the fact that he was living in and spending money on a house that was owned in my name. Long-term love is a tricky beast.

      • http://unexpected-moments.blogspot.com/ Sheryl

        Both need to be ok. It needs to be ok for women to be the financial backer of a relationship, if that’s what makes sense to that relationship. It also needs to be ok to be able to advocate for our needs and the progress of our relationship. I think what also makes the whole matter harder is that it’s already difficult to do EITHER of those things without judgment, and when you’re turning traditional roles on their heads (especially two at a time) things aren’t always pretty.

      • Hannah

        This was the first thought in my head when I read this comment as well, but I actually think I see where Miss Happ is coming from. Maybe. Whether I understand your point(s) of view or not, something I’d like to add is that it may be important to know *why* someone is not getting married or moving toward marriage before we decide whether their partner is safe “trusting” them not to leave. Is the couple not moving toward marriage because one or both is unsure about the lifelong commitment idea? If so, it would be silly for either partner to “trust” in the other to stick around. If, on the other hand, the couple is not moving toward marriage because, despite their deep commitment to one another, certain things stand in the way between them and their marriage (such as the desire to share the day with friends and family in a way that is currently impractical), it seems perfectly reasonable for each member of the couple to trust the other, unless there are other reasons not to.
        I’m reminded of the movie “Away We Go.” In it, Mia Rudolph’s character never wants to get married, despite her boyfriends constant proposals, because she can’t bear the fact of a wedding without her mother, who has passed away. In the end, John Krasinski’s character says he just needs to know that she will never leave him. Without a single mention of vows or rings or marriage, they promise their lifelong commitment to one another. I tend to think this type of marriage would be just as real as any other, but the more important point than whether a couple sees themselves as married, I suppose, is whether they have confidence in the other to go the distance.

        • http://misshappnstance.wordpress.com Miss Happ

          Hannah, you are right the “why” to the waiting, indeed the “why” to the wedding at all, are needed to make ny kind of judgement on any one person trusting their significant other. My comment was not intended to judge the author or her relationship or even trust level at all… but it’s definitely implicitely involved.
          I intended to comment on those nagging little voices that I hear about from my female friends, that I know I have echoing around in my head… Those ideas that are so contradictory, but none-the-less feel true at once. That the author goes from “we hit a point where he could no longer pay his rent. We had been living together for more than two years, talking about our wedding as it would be” – where she’s using “we” instead of “he hit a point” so the idea of a team and trust and committment are already there – then she goes to the inner voice of the strong feminist role-model (mine’s always my stepmom!) with “How could I give so much money to a man with nothing to back me up? I had nothing to prove he wouldn’t take the money and run” which is a very un-unified me vs. he statement.
          Jaya hit it on the head when she talked about how you’re labeled a bad feminist if you do and a bad feminist if you don’t.
          It seems somehow the collective reasoning has gotten skewed – when my stepmom tells me I should always be in control of my money, I should always be able to take care of myself, I should never be dependent on a man, and conversely, I should never let one be dependent on me – it seems to negate the idea that a true team can ever form, and this is what I think needs to change. It’s the going from “me & he” to “us” Yes, you can still have financial independence and be married or committed without a wedding. But this author is talking about her need to “cover him, protect him. [She] made the decision that [she] was ready to tie [her] life to his, formally and permanently” then there is the knee-jerk reaction that “I had nothing to prove he wouldn’t take the money and run”
          This is normal. And it should be considered. But ultimately, you never have “proof” that someone won’t leave you destitute when you merge finances, except for their behaviour history, and your intuition. Married, domestically partnered, committed serious relationship – they all can end. People break vows and contracts all the time. It is always a leap of faith.
          So I guess my comment really is that you can be a strong woman, and be part of a team where sometimes you fall and the other person catches you, and sometimes he/she falls and you catch her/him. It’s OK to rely on people – you can still be a feminist if you do. It’s OK to trust that you’re partner hasn’t secretly been waiting for years for you to support them financially so that they can take advantage of you. You do what you need to do to protect yourself and allow yourself to trust (in this case the author chose domestic partnership – which is so cool), but if you’re already thinking seriously about teaming up – you do what you need to do and you take that leap of faith. And those around you should trust that you have done what you need, and that you are as sure as anyone can be about what you’re doing for you, your partner, and your team.

          • MDBethann

            My stance on it has always been: I need to know HOW to take care of myself, my money, be independent, etc. but I don’t have to BE that way all of the time and I haven’t failed if I’m not. My big concern for women who get married right out of high school and start families without ever working or developing skills outside of the home is that they may not have the necessary skills to support themselves and their children if something happens to their partner. It’s a good thing my maternal grandmother had a job and a work history in the 1940s before she married my grandfather, because after 11 years of marriage, he died leaving her with 2 young girls to support. But in a way, she was lucky, because she had marketable office skills that she could turn to in order to support my aunt and mom.

            I don’t think you HAVE to support yourself, but I think to be a “good feminist” you should have the skills so that you can if the need ever arises.

      • Hannah

        This was the first thought in my head when I read this comment as well, but I actually think I see where Miss Happ is coming from. Maybe. Whether I understand your point(s) of view or not, something I’d like to add is that it may be important to know *why* someone is not getting married or moving toward marriage before we decide whether their partner is safe “trusting” them not to leave. Is the couple not moving toward marriage because one or both is unsure about the lifelong commitment idea? If so, it would be silly for either partner to “trust” in the other to stick around. If, on the other hand, the couple is not moving toward marriage because, despite their deep commitment to one another, certain things stand in the way between them and their marriage (such as the desire to share the day with friends and family in a way that is currently impractical), it seems perfectly reasonable for each member of the couple to trust the other, unless there are other reasons not to.
        I’m reminded of the movie “Away We Go.” In it, Mia Rudolph’s character never wants to get married, despite her boyfriends constant proposals, because she can’t bear the thought of a wedding without her mother, who has passed away. In the end, John Krasinski’s character says he just needs to know that she will never leave him. Without a single mention of vows or rings or marriage, they promise their lifelong commitment to one another. I tend to think this type of marriage would be just as real as any other, but the more important point than whether a couple sees themselves as married, I suppose, is whether they have confidence in the other to go the distance.

    • http://www.stefaniecepeda.com Stefanie

      I agree about the feminist part. You talk about going against your feminist upbringing, but I think that your choice was very feminist! You didn’t subscribe to the traditional “man as provider” roles and you did what was right for both of you. I think that’s fantastic!

  • A Single Sarah for certain values of single

    *sniffles* This is beautiful. Thank you for sharing. I hope that you are able to continue being patient and that you’re able to go public soon.

  • Moe

    Sometimes life doesn’t play out in the perfect A, B, C and D linear order of events. And OMG, it’s perfectly ok! How refreshing and liberating to hear!

    When my husband, then boyfriend returned from his Masters graduation ceremony we discovered a half empty apartment because his then roommate was moving into his newly purchased condo. The roommate didn’t want to reveal this while he was finishing a degree! This sudden change of events set things into motion and two months later with him unemployed, no engagement ring and less than $200 between us we found ourselves in a Las Vegas wedding chapel getting married.

    For us, eloping spontaneously allowed us to move forward with the support of our families and move in together while upholding our personal values of wanting to be married when living together.

    Now I am in the in-between stage too. Already married but planning a wedding. Leaving unusual questions like “How do I address my wedding invitations?” Do I use my former maiden name? Or my new married ne that I have already legally taken?

    Regardless, hooray for undefined, ambiguous in-between stages and forums like this where they can be discussed and celebrated.

    • KB

      I’d just like to say that, even though getting hitched before a formal ceremony/reception can present it’s own set of issues, I think eloping is an incredibly romantic and personal event that makes for a wonderful story to cherish – even if you did it for practical reasons, I think it always sounds so dashing and adventurous, like devil-may-care, “We’re in love and want to show it!” sort of thing :-)

      • Moe

        After our chapel wedding we had the task of phoning parents to break the news. My favorite response was his mom who humorously said “See, I should have warned you about what heppens in Vegas.”

        Our parents all married in Vegas. My parents married each other three separate times in Las Vegas. His parents did the same, and when they remarried new spouses after their divorce it was also in Las Vegas.

        So perhaps it was in our blood to elope the way we did. :)

        • MDBethann

          Sounds like you have quite the family tradition going there Moe!

  • Caroline

    Wow, I wish we had this option. Here in California, domestic partnership is only for same sex couples, as you said, the “consolation prize” for being unable to get married legally. I would love to be able to have a solid in between step for now. We too have had struggles with unemployment and feeling unevenly ready because of that. I would love that way to mark an intermediate step in our relationship.

    • Karen

      What about creating a ceremony around signing healthcare power of attorney and financial power of attorney forms? It’ll give you some legal standing and it’s one small step you can do together until you get the marriage license.

      • Caroline

        We already signed that paperwork, and it did feel like an in between step. ( and I totally made our witnesses take a photo of us with the paperwork and me grinning my head off even though he thought that was a little silly). It was a great experience, and we talked so deeply about what we wanted in terms of end of life issues, even more than we had before. But what I really want is an intermediate step with public recognition. I’m really sick of people “downgrading” us from my preferred term, partner, to boyfriend/girlfriend. Our relationship is a lot more like marriage than dating: lifelong commitment, shared financial resources, team problem solving and decision making, planning our lives around us, not just I, been together longer than any of our peers are married, (2-3 times longer than the longest married), longer than my mom and stepdad, yet because we aren’t married, our relationship is regarded as less than. I hate that.

        (I also know it won’t be too much longer, we’ve been talking about getting married next summer. I just wish there was an in between step for the past few years and the next little while that would make people recognize our relationship as serious. We’ve had several times in the past 6 months which were particularly aggravating, such as at a professional luncheon where the organizer put “friend” on his name tag, even though I asked her to use partner. Friend? We were never just friends! And at 7 years into the relationship? You can’t even put boyfriend, much less my preferred, partner?)

        • Karen

          It is frustrating that the U.S. hasn’t quite caught up to using the word partner like Europe does. There, “partner” isn’t just reserved for same-sex couples. I’m sorry you had this experience. It takes many of us, working in our spheres of influence, to show others that all relationships should be taken seriously regardless of whether they are legally recognized or not, opposite sex or same sex. Have faith that this will work out for you. Hang in there!

          • Caroline

            Thanks. It’s definitely interesting how many people my age ask me about the term partner, and then tell me how much they like it, and sometimes that they will now use it. It’s just that the generation before me doesn’t even notice the term, much less respect my preference for the term or respect the relationship.

        • Pippa

          As an Aussie, I find it really strange to hear that the term ‘partner’ invites some difficulty for those using it, and I’m sorry for that, if only because I know how special that word can be.
          In my own situation, my boyfriend and I had been together for 3 years, been through and come back from break-ups, career changes, engagement, addiction, unemployment, mental unhealth and lost friendships. When we reunited after the engagement was called off we weren’t ready to be engaged again yet, but we had no doubt about the seriousness of our relationship, or where we were headed. At that point, ‘boyfriend’ and ‘girlfriend’ seemed like such simple childish words for what we really were to each other and we opted to use ‘partner’. It carries so much more gravitas and maturity and describes our relationship to each other much more fittingly. Incidentally, although we are engaged now, we still use ‘partner’. It’s just a good word.

      • Mandy

        I love this idea! I read this post and thought “How perfect for us!” and told my fiance about the idea of a domestic partnership via gchat (because I’m more impatient than romantic). He was very excited and we were about to discuss when we could go to the courthouse to do the paperwork. Then, we did some googling and realized here in NC domestic partnership has not only been taken off the table but squashed by Amendment 1 (which we both voted against, for the record). Just another case of unfair laws hurting not only same sex couples, but straight couples as well.

        We want to get married (obviously, since we’re engaged), and spent a few years in the pre-engaged state, even purchasing a house together during that time. However, we want a long engagement so that we can sort out careers and schooling and health issues and money issues (etc. etc. etc.). We’re committed to each other already, and loved the idea of a special pact, just for us, that could mean as much or as little as we wanted about our relationship, but would also link us and protect us legally. We’ll be having a relatively big wedding, because like Kelly and R we feel the wedding is for the community of family and friends who have supported us while the marriage is ours alone, but I also mourned the loss of the idea of a small ceremony and celebration just for us.

        Perhaps we’ll just draw up some papers with a lawyer and then give ourselves this small ceremony anyway. I actually might like that idea even more than an official domestic partnership, because it’s kind of a way of sticking it to the man and subverting the unfair laws in our (otherwise pretty lovely) state, and who can argue with that?!

      • k corbeau

        We did exactly this, back in 2008, in MD. (We wanted to buy a house, but I didn’t feel comfortable having all the loose ends.) We found a lawyer, went in a few times to discuss particulars, and then had a small ceremony (no witnesses, just us) in the lawyer’s office as we signed the paperwork. (Durable financial PofA, healthcare PofA, wills, etc) It was a perfect middle step.

        For us, the problem is that practically no one else will assign any kind of recognition to this sort of commitment. We refer to each other as Partner, and have a small amount of legal standing, but because we don’t have anything to flash around that is symbolically recognizable, like a ring, or wedding photos, the message from society at large is that we don’t count.

        I also deeply agree with Caroline’s comment below (or above? not sure how this will post): “I’m really sick of people “downgrading” us from my preferred term, partner, to boyfriend/girlfriend.” EXACTLY. We are legally intertwined! It counts!!

    • Amber

      I’m pretty sure you can have a Domestic Partnership as a straight couple in California. One of my high school friends, her parents never married, and I’m pretty sure they have a Domestic Partnership. Here’s a link with more info: http://www.sos.ca.gov/dpregistry/

      • Caroline

        I just checked the family code in the link you included, and in California, you must be a same sex couple. It’s not a separate thing from marriage, just separate and unequal. A company can still give you domestic partner benefits though.

        • DB

          Yes, my partner(? Not using the term out loud yet but have been mentally trying it out for a while) and I were frustrated to recently discover this as well!

  • Brenna

    APW strikes again with the pertinent bolt. My partner and I had a pre-nup conversation last night (he has a business with his family that needs protection lest anything happens to him or me or us.) We are ready to walk down to the courthouse and make it legal but not ready for a wedding (financially, messy parental divorce on my side, big employment changes…)

    We are in that space where boyfriend/girlfriend doesn’t aptly describe our relationship and we are not married so he isn’t my husband. I am so glad that people like Kelly are actively working through the in between space in a way that makes sense for her. I hope for and look forward to the day when we won’t have to explain or feel awkward about the gray zones of relationships.

  • TH

    This really strikes a chord with me today. I’m stuck in that weird limbo world where my partner and I have been together for almost 14 years now. And we’re not married despite owning a home jointly. And I have no idea what to call him on a daily basis – we’re so much more than boyfriend/girlfriend, but we’re not technically engaged although he apparently refers to me as his fiancee. And partners is so bound up in LGBT issues in my head still.

    Argh. And I’m dealing with increasingly wanting to be “wife” when he’s just so not sure about marriage. It’s such an emotional minefield.

  • Becca

    I kinda feel like I’m in this stage, mentally at least. We are engaged and our wedding is almost a year from now, yet we both already refer to each other as husband and wife and, honestly, we are about one step away from common law marriage. We’ve bought a house together, we’ll be setting up a joint small business in the next few months, and some part of me really wants to go ahead and do something official, even if it is small, private and anticlimactic. It’s like, “I love you and completely trust you and want the wedding and all, but I also want to be married and official and have all these plans were making be protected, which I know isn’t all that romantic but hey.”

  • Elena

    The company where I work allowed to cover non-same-sex domestic partners with health benefits starting this year. So since Jan 1 my boyfriend became my partner :) We didn’t go to register it (the company could ask for registration as a proof, but it’s not required), but we did sit down and discussed what it meant to us – not being married, but being fully committed to out future together.

    We’re getting married in less than a month, and I’m super excited to get that “married” check on the tax return to get back much more money than usually :)

    • marbella

      We did this before marriage too, as soon as my (now) husband’s company allowed it. We also didn’t go to register it but it was a nice step to have while waiting to be able to get married (long process due to visa issues).

  • Anonymous (today)

    I’m anonymous today, because we were legally married prior to our actual ceremony, but kept it a secret. It’s a weird place to be in, not quite married, but married. I wish I had had a better word to describe my husband at the time. I usually just used “fiance” since everything was so hush-hush. I love the word “partner” and will probably even use it in the future as well.

    There are a lot of people out there who frown on this way of doing things. I checked out some other wedding forums and saw some incredibly angry comments. People who say it’s terrible to lie to our friends and family, tricking them into believing that our ceremony was “real” when we were really married already.

    I just want to say that they are dead wrong. Our ceremony was absolutely real. I didn’t FEEL married until we went public with it. And it is amazing to be on the other side.

    Kelly, thank you for your post today.

    • Anonymous

      US TOO! We got legally married for immigration reasons four months ago. My big white wedding is next month. A couple of our family members know, but most don’t. My sister did the same thing five years ago, and I did not think anything of it. I’ve now come across the extremely vitriolic anger that posters on another web site have for us for “lying” and not having a “real” wedding. :(( It made me sad for a long time- we’d been planning our “real” wedding before we suddenly had a lost job/lost visa, and needed to be sure we could stay together in a shorter time than we’d originally planned.

      I’m glad there are others out there who have had this experience. We haven’t been before OUR COMMUNITY, our families, our close friends, and God saying “I choose you!” and therefore, despite the fact that the state knows we’re legally hitched, we feel very half-married. Next month, before everyone we love, we’ll be whole married. (not to say that others who choose to elope/courthouse/small wedding aren’t whole married – we just wanted the big wedding and don’t yet feel married since we haven’t had it yet).

      At this point I’ve taken on Meg’s view about it – a variation on “f*ck ‘em if they don’t like the chairs.” And if they don’t want to come to my wedding because of a choice I had to make three months ago? Fine then, I accept that, and will still dance up a storm in my big white dress regardless.

      • Anonymous (today)

        Yet another reason why I love APW – it’s a place where people are open-minded enough to understand that there are MANY correct ways to get married.

  • J

    I found this a very interesting read because in Canada you can legally become a common-law spouse after living together for 12 months. As someone who got engaged after 5 years of living together, fiance almost seemed like a downgrade because I already referred to him as my boyfriend/partner/husband (depending on the situation), we filed joint taxes and were on each others benefits/pensions etc as spouses. Standing up in front of 100 people and pledging to be together was a very powerful moment for us personally, but didn’t particularly change the social/legal recognition of our relationship.

    • La

      We have a similar concept in New Zealand – many people automatically have the legal benefits of marriage before they marry. It’s amazing how that filters down to the language, so that “partner” is a commonly used and socially acceptable term. I prefer it to “fiance” (for this current in between moment) because it doesn’t come with the questions about a wedding (which seem to obscure anything else I’m talking about when I mention a fiance). I am a lawyer in a law firm and you just don’t get confused in a conversation over whether someone is talking about his/her boss or his/her girlfriend or boyfriend.

  • http://seventhandw.wordpress.com nors

    I adore that my company recognizes domestic partnerships (and is a big GLBT sponsor too) and our’s worked well for our health insurance and house while we wait for the big step!

  • Florence

    Beautiful post, and you two clearly made the best decision here. My boyfriend and I did the same last year, while we wait for the right time to get married :)
    “in the past it’s been used as a consolation prize for LGBT couples, a way to say, “Sorry, you can have some, but not all.”” : I found it interesting, in France we also have domestic partnerships. They were created a few years back for LGBTQ couples, but the vast majority of couples who choose domestic partnerships are actually heterosexual…

  • http://fatcarriesflavor.wordpress.com MadGastronomer

    I like a number of things about this post.

    One of the most prominent is the way it shows, once again, that domestic partnership is not equal to marriage. It is less-than. It is a baby step on the way. It is, indeed, a consolation prize.

    Straight people in states where there is no same-sex marriage yet complaining about how they don’t get our consolation prize irritates the snot out of me. You can have it when we have full equality, ok? Until then, maybe don’t whine about what you can’t have and instead work to get us what you can have.

    • Kelsey

      Yup. Another example of how making some families take the ‘consolation prize’ without any option to ‘upgrade’ hurts ALL families in the end!

  • Pingback: Why I Opted For A Domestic Partnership

  • Jen

    “And while some days the waiting feels like carrying around an elephant, and all I want is something to feel happy about”

    Oh dear God do I know that feeling… you said it so well. I’ve been with my (now) fiance for almost 9 years, we even just bought a house together (both names on the mortgage and everything). We did not do a domestic partnership, but the verbal ‘contract’ as it were was there. I had to wait for him to be ready/comfortable/whatever you want to consider it to become formally engaged. It was difficult, primarily because of the lack of understanding from society at large (perceived or real, I’m not entirely sure but there you have it) However it was also totally entirely worth it, I consider the thought of having gotten married earlier but I am certain that we weren’t ready yet. We had to take care of other things to lay the ground work first.