As you and your loved one consider making a bigger commitment you should ask if you want traditional marriage or a spiritual union. From a heavenly perspective, both are the same. A commitment to love, honor and cherish each other faithfully for the rest of your lives.
What God has joined no man should separate. The ceremonies look the same too, but by law they are different.
The spiritual union is stating your commitment and love towards each other but there is no marriage license and you are still considered single in the eyes of the state. It is a marriage in heaven as opposed to one on earth… I believe it is a viable and recommended option for
1) Couples who are before the age of 28 (when we get our final adult brains) who have no children. Convert to a marriage when you have your first child or after you have been together for ten years. Many decisions made with our young adult brain (ages 10-27) are not sustainable in our later years. Remember ‘death do us part’ years ago didn’t mean very much past 40.
2) Couples with pre-established families if you are trying to keep the families separate… This is more of a financial factor with considerations of inheritances, taxes, alimony, ramifications on the kid’s financial aids if your kids are or soon to be of college age… and of course there is the issue of family health insurance to factor in…
How each of these things are going to be handled either way, should be discussed before the wedding if you haven’t already.
Let’s face it, we are a marriage minded society- there are not only financial benefits to being married, but a wedding and mating up is one of the ritualistic steps in our lives often marking the point when a child is now ready to enter the adult world.
Being single in our society is often equated being second to those who are married. Thus part of the issue of divorce and broken families is just the root issue of making marriage such an important standing that people desire to enter into marriage.
Quite often times marriage is a romantic step of the heart that carries many implied legal and financial contracts with it.
As an example, not to be morbid, but I know several cases where this has happened in older adults. You get married and die the next week- by PA state law if there is no will stating otherwise, your spouse receives everything in joint name but also those things only in your name she gets 50% and your children share the other 50%. This includes things like house/car/bank account and such items which don’t have specific asset distribution rules. Many older couples want their children to inherit all their assets and the children are now left to contend with the new spouse.
The spiritual union has no legal or financial contract… While it is a contract in heaven and a commitment to each other, to all the earthly institutions you are just friends living under the same roof. Anything you want to share such as a car or house you put in both your names. You need to talk to an accountant on how that factors into things like the kid’s financial aid for those of you who have college bound children.
I know you aren’t thinking about divorce, but with today’s divorce rates being around the 50% mark; I think we need to reinvent our family relationships… There is huge heartache and this has a huge impact on the person’s well being.
I will be the first who admits I don’t know the answer, but the spiritual union may be part of an answer, not to be taken any less serious than a marriage, but it does not include the legal aspects of the marriage. Do the legal aspects separately. I get on couples living together without any marriage mindedness. They like it the way it is and I ask them what happens if the woman gets hit by a car who is going to take care of her daughter legally. Yes the daughter and boyfriend may love each other as father and daughter but there is no legal right to the girl without marriage or some other legal contract being in place. Same thing goes for the rights to decide health procedures. If there is a car accident and there needs to be a decision a girlfriend/boyfriend has no rights to decide no matter how long they have lived together. Say the house is in the man’s name, the couple has been living together for 15 years. He dies from a car accident the girl is out on the street. There is protection from the marriage contract, but these implied protections do not require a marriage if the couple is opposed to the idea. But I recommend setting up legal contracts which will protect the ones you love.
The celtics have a tradition on one of their holidays where a couple may get married for one year, if it doesn’t work out then during their holiday tradition the following year they separate and it is like the relationship never happened. We need more of these serious betrothals where you are considered temporarily married until you decide to make it permanent.
There is a long way to go to figure out the solution, but maybe a temporary marriage license would work. We have to renew all kinds of licenses for driving and such, why can’t we set our marriage at something similar???