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Heterosexual commitment ceremony

snowballsnowball Registered User Posts: 2,721 Senior Member
edited July 2013 in Parent Cafe
This is a new one for me, but maybe other have heard of this before. A male family member, early 60's, and twice divorced, is going to have a commitment ceremony with the women he has been with for about a year and a half. They each have a home in different states, but because he is currently unemployed, he spends 3 weeks with her and then flies home for a week; according to my MIL, it is to spend time with his children and grandchild. I do not know if the woman has ever been married or why they decided to not get married.

So why would a heterosexual couple have a commitment ceremony? I understand them not wanting to get married, but why not just leave things as they have been? What am I missing?
Post edited by snowball on

Replies to: Heterosexual commitment ceremony

  • atomomatomom Registered User Posts: 4,364 Senior Member
    Probably for financial reasons he doesn't want to be legally married. But wants to show his "commitment" to the relationship somehow. And perhaps have the family recognize his girlfriend as "part of the family?" Maybe they just want to dress up and throw a party?
    Really no way of knowing unless you ask him.
  • minimini Registered User Posts: 26,431 Senior Member
    Maybe he lives in a state where gay marriage is still not allowed, and, as a matter of principle, won't marry until everyone can? (I have friends like this.)
  • bclintonkbclintonk Registered User Posts: 7,332 Senior Member
    Adding to mini's and atomom's reasons:

    1) Some people are just ideologically opposed to marriage on grounds that the institution has historically subjugated women. They are not necessarily opposed to long-term committed relationships.

    2) In some committed relationships, one partner suffers severe medical and/or disability issues that the state will pay for if they are single, but if married the state would look to deplete spousal assets and income before paying a dime. This creates a profound disincentive to marry, but not necessarily to be in a committed relationship.

    3) Some people are legally disabled from marrying. An example is someone previously married to a partner who disappeared but has not been declared legally dead; a partner who has fled to another jurisdiction; or a partner who has resisted divorce, thus successfully barring a second marriage by the person who now finds himself/herself in a committed relationship.

    4) There may be religious barriers. My understanding is that the Catholic Church, for example, won't recognize the marriage of a Catholic to someone who has not at least been baptized a Christian. If the Catholic member of the couple wishes to respect those requirements, they might be barred from marrying the partner of their choice, but might nonetheless elect to be in a committed relationship. (The Catholic Church would, of course, consider the sexual aspect of such a relationship sinful, but for some that is a lesser sin that violating Church teachings on the sacrament of marriage).
  • snowballsnowball Registered User Posts: 2,721 Senior Member
    So far none of the reasons apply to the male family member, but I don't know about the woman. We have met the woman and everyone liked her, but we don't know a lot about her. I need to talk to my MIL as she is having lunch with the man, her nephew today.

    I wasn't questioning his choice as much as just curious why at this time in ones life would one chose commitment vs. marriage vs. just continuing to live together. I just have never met a heterosexual couple that has gone the commitment route; doesn't mean it does happen.
  • zoosermomzoosermom Registered User Posts: 25,968 Senior Member
    Since the gentleman has been twice divorced, I'm betting it's not a philosophical opposition to traditional marriage.

    Most likely financial. Maybe one or both of the couple has assets that they would like to protect.
  • mominvamominva Registered User Posts: 2,807 Senior Member
    I wonder if the woman receives spousal survivor benefits which would be lost with remarriage (particularly concerning if new spouse is unemployed).
  • artloversplusartloversplus Registered User Posts: 7,944 Senior Member
    Not sure legally how much a "commitment" will be binding. Perhaps it is kind of pre-nuptial agreement?

    You can call for a party any way you wanted, short of marriage many things can be contested in the court when you decided to separate.
  • Nrdsb4Nrdsb4 Registered User Posts: 14,809 Senior Member
    I wonder if having a "commitment ceremony" could set up either partner for a later claim of common law marriage?
  • bookreaderbookreader Registered User Posts: 1,895 Senior Member
    The cynic in me says it's a way to get gifts since they are not really 'committing' to anything as nothing here is legally binding. I just don't see the point. In my (admittedly) black and white view, you are either married or not married. There is no

    Nrdsb4 brings up an interesting idea that this could be a prequel to a common law marriage claim.

    Anyway, I've not heard of this before.
  • Proud MaryProud Mary Registered User Posts: 190 Junior Member
    I know a number of older couples who have done just this. Usually it's for financial reasons - one person is receiving benefits that will end upon marriage or protection of children from previous marriages. In our social circle, they are considered married and no one blinks an eye.

    On the other hand, I know a couple, in their early 80s, who have been living together for many years with no intention of marrying. They recently got married when the male had some health issues and his children started making noises about cutting off the female if the male died. To protect her, they got married.
  • paying3tuitionspaying3tuitions Registered User Posts: 13,330 Senior Member
    I'm not naive about possible financial explanations, but will attempt an emotional spin here:

    Maybe he knows he hasn't been successful in marriage, so is reluctant/embarassed to retrace those steps in front of family, when marriage hasn't worked for him. So this will feel new and fresh for him, which gives him hope.

    And maybe she wants to turn to her friends and herself, to say: he's more than just a "boyfriend." Now she can confidently call him her partner, life-mate or whatever she wishes.

    It could be a compromise that meets emotional needs of two mature people. I'd listen closely to what they say in their vows to each other for clues.
  • mom2collegekidsmom2collegekids Registered User Posts: 82,620 Senior Member
    I've heard of some women wanting to do this because they don't want to lose the benefits that they get from their previous marriage. If they legally remarry, they may lose some of their former husband's benefits (social security, insurance, retirement, spousal support, etc). For a woman who has only been a SAHM and her only "retirement" income is because of what she gets because of her ex-H's retirement and/or social security. It's too risky to give those things up because few new husbands will want to take on the full expenses of his new wive. Also, if the second marriage doesn't work out, the woman will have nothing.

    Usually it's for financial reasons - one person is receiving benefits that will end upon marriage or protection of children from previous marriages In our social circle, they are considered married and no one blinks an eye.

    Yes, probably.

    But, what I've heard is that some states are getting wise to this, so there are new laws that state that if the exspouse begins living with another person then benefits will end. I wonder what happens if the person begins living with a same-sex partner? The person can just claim that the person is a "roomie", right? And, I guess they could with an opposite sex partner as well.
  • GladGradDadGladGradDad Registered User Posts: 2,818 Senior Member
    It sounds silly to me. What's the point of having a 'ceremony'? What does a ceremony, as opposed to an actual commitment/promise, bring to the table? Usually a ceremony is for family/friends or religious reasons. I don't see either of those applying here based on the description unless they really think their family/friends want to watch them stand there and make some non-marriage commitment of some kind to each other. Will they be then doing a commitment reception, have commitment gifts, maybe a commitment shower? (cynicism)

    I will say I've never heard of such a thing but different strokes for different folks.
  • snowballsnowball Registered User Posts: 2,721 Senior Member
    When my MIL was telling my husband, his bother and I about this on Mother's Day, she just assumed everyone was invited to the ceremony which is in the woman's state, a flight away. We aren't close to this man, and actually think he is an arrogant ass; happy to not be invited!!

    He is my MIL's deceased sister's son and she is very close to him. As my MIL is my husband's step mom, he didn't have much contact with this man as his father married with my son was a teen. As adults we saw him for holiday's, but that was about it.

    The ceremony is going to be out of state, but maybe something here later; not positive on that. The woman is well off, so maybe this was her choice; still trying to get that information, but have to be careful how I ask my MIL as this man hung the moon as far as she is concerned.

    I just personally don't get it; either you are married or you are not!
  • SeahorsesrockSeahorsesrock Registered User Posts: 1,638 Senior Member
    So he is unemployed and she is well off? And he is twice divorced? Yup I wouldn't marry him either. I bet it's just an excuse for a party, presents, and look how hip we are.

    It's one of those whatever moments...maybe her condo unit or home owners association or whatever only let you have guests for a certain length of time and those in a committed relationship can stay longer? Hey I can imagine more trivial reasons.
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