Well, as many of you know I have been happily unmarried to the same man for over eighteen years now. On this blog I affectionately refer to him as my unhusband. There is no doubt in my mind that we are well matched. I find him intellectually stimulating, fun to be around and an excellent lover (don't let that swell your head sweetie, you're still taking out the garbage).
Choosing purposefully to remain unmarried has not come without its complications. There are those that cannot resist commenting on our lives. How can we possibly be happy living in sin? How do I know that he is committed to me, if I don't have a
slave band wedding ring on my finger? Don't you want to be branded like a cow, share the same last name? What about your children; they won't have a true sense of family...
Yada, yada, yada... As much as we speak about living in a progressive society, where women have the right to choose what kinds of lives we want to lead, in actuality we continue to be disciplined into participating in archaic ceremonies that tie us to patriarchal institutions. To be clear the "traditional family" as we understand it today is not only patriarchal, it is authoritarian. The hierarchy begins with the male figurehead at the top and the children at the bottom. In some families if the children are male they are placed above their mother.
The unhusband is every bit as unmarried as I am, yet questions regarding the validity of our commitment are always directed at me. For a man to live with a woman without being married carries no social stigmatization. Some even joke approvingly that he is getting the milk for free. Yeah nice analogy, because of course the only reason to be with me is for the gadget between my legs and not the content of my character, or my level of intelligence.
These kind of aspersions though directed at me are commonly said to many women who decide to forgo the gold ring and white dress. I have very specific reasons for deciding to never marry which I am not going to get into on this post; the point is that I should not have to justify this decision to anyone. If we claim to have choice, then when someone chooses to do something 0utside of the norm it should not be continually subject to social discipline.
You know it occurs to me that some lesbians are actively fighting for the right to get married and in some countries that right is denied them; yet my decision not to marry is continually subject to social discipline. The issue can therefore be understood as an issue of control. Marriage is an institution to uphold patriarchy and heterosexism and this why it is right routinely denied lesbians. If no man profits from the relationship then society sees no point in validating the union.
Simply because something is traditional does not make it necessarily a good thing for all parties involved. Male headship of the traditional family does not lead to an equal and respectful marriage. There are those that will continue to walk down that aisle and participate in the wedding ceremony ignoring the significance of what this act means for women. I choose to wake each day participating in a relationship on my own terms, fully aware that what works for me may not work for everyone.
As women and as feminists we need to stop and think about involving ourselves in behaviours simply because our grandmothers, or mothers actively participated and give serious thought to the significance that it holds in our lives. I have no plans to put the unhusband out on the curb on garbage day but I can only make that statement because I know that the foundation of our relationship is respect. No relationship, no matter if it receives the blessing of the state, or a religious figure, will survive if respect is lacking.
So in closing, no I never intend to marry. I love the fact that I will leave this world with the name I was born with; so you will just have to dip that branding iron in cool water. Finally, we could not be happier, our love need not answer to anyone and that is a position that should stand for all.