Marriage rates in the United States have hit an all-time low, at 51 percent. Do you think marriage still matters?
1. No-A promise is a promise.
My boyfriend and I have shared a home for over seven years, have two children, a dog, and a mortgage-and we don't consider ourselves any different than our legally-bound friends. Personally, I think of marriage as a religious institution, and as someone who doesn't practice any faith, that push to get hitched was just never there. I found the man I wanted to spend my life with, and it was as simple as that. Our kids have a loving, stable home and two parents who are crazy about each other. Isn't that all anyone could ask for?
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Cohabitational relationships have legal and social standing these days; my friends and kids' teachers don't necessarily know or care whether or not I am legally wed. What they do know is that we have a complete, secure, and very happy family. I think a promise is a promise, and it's just as valuable whether you say it in front of other people or not. My vow to love my partner through thick and thin is just as binding as a wedding band or a piece of paper from the county registrar. For me, it's even more meaningful, because I didn't need to pay a witness to hold me to it; I'm doing it because I want to. I have total respect for those who choose to marry, but it's not a priority for us. -Maranda Carvell, momicon.com
2. Yes-It binds us together forever.
Marriage absolutely matters. It means that the man I am giving it all to, risking it all for, sharing my life completely with, is also risking, sharing, and giving his all for me. I would have a hard time pouring years of effort into a relationship without the promise of a binding commitment. It's not that I think my husband would ever cheat-with or without a wedding band, I know it would never happen. But I find so much hope and protection in the fact that he stood up in front of others to commit his life to me.
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It matters to our kids, too. Because they have parents who are married, they feel added comfort and security in the institution. To me, marriage takes a relationship from "Cool, this will probably work" to "This is ours, and we will make it work." My husband and I have been hitched for 17 years, and we know that life is hard, as is marriage. Neither of us always feels romantic or passionate. We don't always like each other. But I believe that the marriage promise is like extra stitching in a delicate seam of life-without it, who knows whether everything would fall apart. -Jenny Ingram, jennyonthespot.com
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