I’ve never been that fussed about the idea of marriage.
Even though my boyfriend and I have been together for over six years (not that I’m counting), we’ve decided that a wedding is definitely not on the cards for us. Not now. Not ever.
It wasn’t always this way, though. There was a time when my partner and I were planning to get engaged. We picked out a ring and even set a date. But I was so stressed out because of it. I could tell he was, too. We were putting such incredible pressure on ourselves to make our relationship official by societal standards that we spent all of our time bickering about our engagement plans and resenting each other. It took a while, but we began to realize that this pressure was the root of our problems.
It wasn’t exactly an easy conversation to approach. I mean, what partner wants to hear, “Babe, I love you, but I don’t want to marry you?” So when my boyfriend admitted he didn’t want to get married either, we were both relieved.
You see, neither of us actually wanted to get married—we just thought we had to. Perhaps it was partly due to the many online articles suggesting a relationship is destined for failure if you’re not talking marriage after a certain number of years. All you have to do is chuck “why my partner and I aren’t getting engaged” into a Google search to get “expert advice” and lists about when to call off the wedding. You’ll even find a breakdown of all the reasons you’re not engaged yet. (I mean, rude!)
But these articles don’t seem to consider that some couples just don’t want to put a ring on it. There’s barely any mention of that. In fact, they can be pretty triggering for people who have no intention of ever getting engaged. When we’re only told one story—that successful relationships should end in marriage—how are couples not supposed to feel like there is something wrong if that’s not the end goal?
Still, there is a stigma that remains. If you don’t end up getting engaged or married, there must be trouble in paradise, right? This stigma can even make couples question their relationship.
Because of societal expectations, I used to find myself wondering whether my partner and I were right for each other. Is our choice to not get married a sign that our relationship is failing or will eventually fail? Of course, the answer is a resounding no, but it makes you wonder, nonetheless.
Engagement and marriage don’t work for everyone—and that’s okay. Every person’s story is different. While some people get married, others of us believe in the power of a long-term commitment and don’t need vows or a ring to solidify a relationship.
Plus, there are so many factors when it comes to whether or not marriage is best for someone. Finances, careers, extended family dynamics—these can all play into a person’s decision. For my partner and me, there are other ways we want to spend our money. While engagement and marriage don’t have to be expensive, we’d prefer to invest our money in travel.
And let’s not forget there are plenty of people who don’t end up in long-term partnerships at all, whether by choice or circumstance. They should be allowed to remain single without fear of judgment, too.
The thing with my partner and me is that we just don’t want to get engaged or married. But we also don’t want to break up. We’re happy in our little bubble, us and our cat. We love spending our evenings catching up on our favorite whodunnits. And we like to chat with one another. Despite being together for so long, we never run out of things to discuss.
Would engagement or marriage change any of this? Probably not, but we like our relationship as it is. And we shouldn’t have to justify our decision. Nor should other people.
Instead, everyone should feel free to focus on being more present and enjoying the experiences they have together—whether single, dating, engaged, or married. It’s ultimately up to each individual. How’s that for a new standard?
Are you unfussed with the idea of engagement and marriage? I’d love to hear how you navigate your relationship in the comments below!
Lorna McGachie is a freelance copywriter and digital content executive based in the UK. As an English graduate, she’s passionate about storytelling and making content more accessible and fun. She’s also a keen skier who’s interested in living a more sustainable lifestyle.