I was at a birthday party yesterday for Hannah’s best friend’s brother. I’ve known the family since both our girls were infants and although we’ve never been close, we are certainly friendly. I see at least one of them most days as I pick up and drop off Hannah and we commonly spend 15 minutes or so chatting about the kids amongst the chaos OF our kids, before going our separate ways.
At the party I was discussing Kindergarten plans for their daughter knowing that she’d sadly be separating from Hannah when this school year comes to an end. Hannah will be entering the public school system after 5 years at a fabulous (yet crazy expensive) preschool and her best friend will be continuing at a private Catholic school. I was interested in why they were opposed to the public school they were zoned for (a different one than Hannah) and if a Catholic education was the motive for this choice.
They laughed as they began to tell me that it definitely was NOT a Catholic education they were after. “You know we’re not married, right?” the husband asked me assuming this was old news.
Surprised, I told him I had no idea. Figuring they were just a little alternative and weren’t into the “institution of marriage”, or that one of them had been divorced and didn’t want to go through “it” all again, I just smiled and said, “Oh, that’s cool.”.
“Yeah, it’s totally for tax reasons”, he went on to say.
“Yeah, we’re saving a SHITLOAD of money by not being married.” Sounded like a Geico ad.
Thinking of the five digit check we handed over last month, my first reaction was, “Why didn’t I think of that?” But that thought was short lived. I really did not want to be judgmental about this decision they had made because who am I to even have an opinion about how a couple handles their affairs, but it just seemed so wrong odd.
I told Tim on the car ride home this new piece of information thinking he’d say, “So what? Pretty smart if you ask me!” but he surprised me with his immediate reaction of, “Well, THAT’S romantic!”.
He nailed it. That was exactly what my problem was with this whole thing. Their reasons for not getting married seemed to just SUCK the romance out of what I, personally, thought was the most romantic part of a couple’s lives. Beyond the walk down the aisle, and the gorgeous white gown and gaining a new last name in honor of “my man”, it’s the knowledge that we have this “bond”. This commitment. This PROMISE. I wondered if he had ever proposed to her and after wearing an engagement ring they discussed what a marriage would mean to them financially and so she stopped wearing it (I noticed she did not wear a ring). Or if they had a nonlegal ceremony and celebration that simply did not include the marriage license. Or. Or. Or.
I thought about if their five year daughter old understood their status. Hannah LOVES hearing about our wedding and dreaming about her own. She often asks questions about getting married. How old she has to be. If she can marry a girl (yup!). If you always have a baby right after you get married. She’s already picked the name of her future husband. Al. I love talking to her about all of this. I can’t help thinking that I’d have a harder time explaining if I wasn’t married, if my reason was to save a boatload of money.
There are certain things we do in our lives that aren’t ideal to save money. Buying used clothes and cars, cutting coupons, buying generic items, buying in bulk, cutting our own grass, painting my own nails and the list goes on. But marriage? It’s something I wouldn’t skimp on. I mean I did skimp on certain aspects of the WEDDING. But not the marriage. Yes, Tim may have waited until he could afford a ring. Other couples wait until they an afford the wedding they’ve dreamed of. But not getting married, not putting your love and commitment in writing because of finances… I have a hard time with that.
Or maybe I should say, I HAD a hard time with that.
Until I thought about it as I lay in bed last night. And I realized that the romantic part of being married is NOT the license. It’s not about being able to say, “We’re married”. It’s not writing Mrs. Tim S___. It’s not having a new last name. It’s not talking about it with my daughter. No, it’s not any of those things that “being married” entail.
It’s the love. The looking across the dinner table and knowing that person will be with me forever. It’s looking at my children and admiring the fact that they are a part of the two of us. It’s knowing without a doubt that this person will there for me, will defend me, support me and cherish me for my life. It’s TRUSTING that, even without a court, Rabbi, Priest or Pastor confirming it, he will be there for me, with me and beside me. It’s so much about trust really. Because if you think about it, why do we even need that piece of paper other than to make it REALLY hard to leave one another if things don’t pan out? And if you trust that won’t happen, the legal document shouldn’t be necessary.
Romance isn’t about the paper that no one looks at anyway (except apparently the IRS). Romance isn’t about the public “I Do’s” and vows. It’s about the private moments. The vows said as you lay in bed next to one another or as you walk down the street holding hands. The ones that just the two of you share.
And writing that check last month? Not romantic. I could use more flowers or nights away instead.