Is There Such a Thing as "Almost Married?"

by Gina B.

I do all of my best reading in the nail salon.   The salon is magazine heaven, and I’m offered an assortment of gossip and beauty magazines that seem to escape my attention while checking out in the grocery store.   Yesterday’s selection was the September edition of Glamour magazine.  After I read the Q&A with Jennifer Aniston, I flipped through the pages and found an article that caught my attention --  “Are You a Nearlywed?”

By “nearlyweds,” the author is referring to the  Kurt-Russell-and-Goldie-Hawn-esque couples who are increasingly living in a permanently engaged state (or at least an unmarried state) who behave as married couples, and  make life decisions together, such as having children, owning property, sharing finances, etc.

This article struck a particular chord with me, as I and a few of my friends seem to be on a similar path.

The author cites a few reasons for this phenomenon.   There are people who feel that the concept of marriage is antiquated, and they don’t consider a marriage license to be essential in order to have a meaningful committed relationship.   Then there’s the school of thought that marriage is a scary undertaking, given the high divorce rates and extreme financial ramifications.  Some couples appreciate the ability to easily cut bait if major problems occur.

At the same time, the cons could be that society takes a marriage more seriously than a long-term relationship, and the couples themselves tend to stick around to work through the rough patches more diligently if a marriage is at risk.

While I liked the article (and I encourage you to read it), it primarily discusses couples who are deliberate or voluntary nearlyweds.  There are a few more types of couples who fall into the accidental nearlywed bucket.

  1.  Inertia victims.  I’ve witnessed couples who are together strictly because of inertia and complacency.  The relationship is fine the way it is, but it’s not good enough to get married.
  2. Squatters.  They aren’t getting married because one party is waiting for the other to “come around,” yet they continue on with their life events without the desired commitment.  (Is anyone else hearing their grandmother’s voice?  “Why buy the cow . . .”)
  3. It’s complicated.  These poor souls are victimized by their life circumstances.  They might have connected after one or both have exited their inertia relationships (see #1), and have lingering baggage.  Rather than get legally and financially entangled in one another’s situations, it’s often easier to remain together without the piece of paper. (And now I’m hearing my grandfather: “Don’t tie your rope to that wagon!”)
  4. Why bother?  They look up and realize that they’ve been together forever without a formal commitment (usually because one of their aggressive friends/family members reminds them), and when they think about it further, what’s the point?  They feel married already, so what’s the incentive to get married?

As I see it, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being a nearlywed . . . as long as both parties agree on the circumstances and level of commitment.   Nearlywed should not be synonymous with unfulfilled, which will happen if one party is secretly awaiting a proposal that will never arrive.


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