Q: I live in New York, and of course gay marriage just became legal and it's all very exciting. But this creates a new issue in my life. I've been with my boyfriend for more than 5 years, and suddenly, our friends and family are all assuming we're getting married! We're kind of happy as we are, but are definitely feeling the heat to get hitched. How should we deal with our loved ones expecting -- if not demanding -- a wedding?
A: Congratulations on getting the right to marry -- and with it, the privilege of having friends and family butting in! You truly have the gained equality with your heterosexual couple brethren. So my advice to you is the same as advice to any couple in the same situation: do what is best for the two of you, period.
Families and friends are making assumptions based on their idea of what serious relationships "should" be. Now that the right to marry has been extended to same-sex couples, they naturally assume that you will jump at the chance. But, the right to marry also includes the right not to marry. The right gives us a choice, not a demand.
But, before you make the decision to leave the knot untied, consider your new option. Marriage not only gives you certain legal benefits, it also gives you familial and societal recognition that will act to support your relationship and keep it together when you and your partner have a collision, like an invisible relationship seat-belt. Relationships that aren't legally and societally tied together are not only easier for the couple to break-up, they are also less likely to be taken seriously by those around them. But, marriage is also not a magic solution, as heterosexual couples have long shown.
The biggest mistake couples can make is to live their relationships the way others want them to be rather than what they themselves want them to be. Whether it is marriage, having children, lifestyle, religious affiliation, sexual exclusivity, career choice, or housing, the couple has to live the choice, so you and your partner (or partners, for matter) are the ones who make the choice.
If others expect you to have a wedding and you don't want one, just thank them for their input and that you have chosen to forgo a ceremony. If you are up for it, tell them you are having a party to celebrate your relationship and if they wish to celebrate with you...oh, and tell them where you are registered. -- Greg Cason, PhD