If You Don’t Believe in Marriage, Could You at Least Respect Mine?

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A guy I know recently admitted he has no interest in getting married–which is all well and good because it’s certainly not for everyone. But then he did a funny thing.

He criticized what I believe to be a central tenet of my and Paul’s marriage.

First, a little background on him: He has a long-term girlfriend, who supposedly shares his views on marriage. He routinely flirts with other women. He doesn’t include his relationship status in his Facebook profile, and he often changes his profile picture to be a photo of him hugging, kissing (on the cheek–and once a shoulder) or otherwise getting personal with a lady who’s not his girlfriend (occasionally, his love makes it into the main image). Once, his photo was of him with his arm around a married friend of ours. That girl’s hubby was none-too-pleased because other people mentioned they looked like a couple in the picture.

So the other day, it came up in conversation that Paul and I don’t keep secrets from each other. Ever (except when my best friend told me she was pregnant and asked me not to tell a soul).

“Why?” asked the flirty marriage-hater.

“It’s what we’ve always done, and it’s cut out a lot of jealousy and surprises,” I explained.

He then basically said we invade each other’s privacy and don’t trust each other.

In that moment, I wanted to dissect his relationship and point out the many flaws I find in it (you kiss other women’s shoulders when you have a perfectly good shoulder to kiss at home!). Instead, I walked away to cool off.

I realized: Every couple has their own reasons for doing what they do. And if it’s working for them, why dis it? I would, however, appreciate it if they afforded me that same right. They may not want to get married, but we did, we’re happy about it, and the little rules we abide by work for us. Accusing us of not trusting each other (um, we do–emphatically) and invading each other’s privacy (we don’t want to keep anything from each other!) isn’t fair since he doesn’t have the whole picture–just as I don’t of his relationship.

Do you think people who don’t want to get married should still respect marriage/married people? What relationship guidelines do you follow that others might object to?

More About Marriage
6 Things Not to Say to Married Women Who Kept Their Name
Why Get Married?
Is Open Marriage Still Marriage?

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Photo by Rich Bowen

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=605352236 Natasha Jewell

    Agreed!!

  • Jennifer Chemerika

    Firstly, I feel like you and I should be BFF.
    Secondly, I have the same “policy”(?) with my fiance – we tell each other everything… even when it means owning up to the bazillion nail polishes I just bought or the eleventy-fifth purse I had-to-have. We just do, and it works for us.
    Kudos to you for walking away from the conversation, I totally would have been like, wtf dude, look at who’s SHOULDER you’re kissing!

    • http://twitter.com/mereditor Meredith Bodgas

      ha, that’s the best compliment!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=8205642 Dawn Gregory

    absofrickinlutely! its a two way street! respect me? i respect you! and in my opinion you have more than enough reason to critique his life/relationship at this point since he so rudely assumed and shared his feelings about yours. but i don’t know if you want to waste your breath lol :)

  • Twosev Zelnio

    Oh that guy is a creep. Yuck, ew, ew, ew.

    Like you, I’ve never kept secrets from hon, even when it’s been very hard to admit and own up to stuff (like getting in tons of debt while in grad school, and having to explain why I couldn’t visit him during our first time doing the long-distance thing). I think that’s what has kept us together for over 6 years, we tell each other everything. I’ve never felt jealous, and neither has he. We’ve (thankfully) never broke up and we’re still going strong, even when we’re (again) long-distance.

    I had this boyfriend in college that I told everything to, every little secret and thought. But he wasn’t the same, so eventually became an ex.

    But to answer your question … up until recently hon and I hadn’t spoken about marriage. Now that he’s close to finishing his PhD and getting a job we’ve been talking about starting a family, looking for work close to each other, etc. And like you very well said it, marriage is not for everyone … but the same amount of respect I have towards people that decide not to take the jump (hon and I were on that wagon a few months back) has (HAS) to be afforded to people who decide to get married. It’s a two way street. 

  • http://twitter.com/mereditor Meredith Bodgas

    Thank you, ladies, for your lovely comments. 

  • Alexis_H

    “He then basically said we invade each other’s privacy and don’t trust each other.”  The word “basically” implies that he didn’t ACTUALLY say those things; he said something else, and you inferred the meaning.  Between the time that you got upset and the time that you walked away (or the time that you sat down to write this blog entry), did you ever stop to think that maybe you misinterpreted what he said?

    Do not fool yourself into believing you don’t dis his relationship.  You do.  You just do it in a more passive-aggressive way.  You refer to him with pejoratives (e.g., “flirty marriage-hater”).  If he did the equivalent to you (“overly-sensitive marriage-obsessor”), I bet you and your self-righteousness would post a blog entry–Six Things Not to Say to Married Couples Who Don’t Keep Any Secrets from Each Other Because They Trust Each Other Emphatically–faster than you could say “insecure.”

  • soosoo12

    How did he disrespect your marriage?  He made a personal observation about how he believes a relationship should and shouldn’t operate.  Don’t own it by getting upset about something someone outside your marriage observed.  It just doesn’t matter.  If you feel you must, tell him “We feel just the opposite”

    You don’t respect his relationship philosophy about wanting to remain a confirmed bachelor indefinitely.  You don’t respect how he relates to women who are not his girlfriend.  I assume his girlfriend is just find with how things are between them (haven’t read otherwise about how she feels).  He prob wouldn’t take it personally if you did comment it though.

    Don’t worry about it.  That’s all.  Relax and enjoy however you choose to live your relationship with important people in your life.  Not everyone believes in marriage and they will say so right in front of you.  You are free to express that you don’t believe in staying single.  The single people probably won’t care because they hear it all the time from everyone else in society, especially their mothers!  It just makes them sassier when they hear it.  tee hee

    • mereditor

      I agree that his views on how relationships should work shouldn’t (and thankfully, doesn’t) affect how I believe mine should. But I’m confused: You’ve said I don’t respect his philosophy, but you seem convinced that he respects my marriage. It doesn’t feel respectful to accuse two married people of not trusting each other, as he did. I do, however, wish more people who don’t think marriage is for them refrained from tying the knot. So I’m glad he hasn’t taken that leap! But you’re right: Simply saying “we feel the opposite” is a good solution for situations like this, which I’m glad I haven’t encountered since I wrote this post 10 months ago.

      • soosoo12

        He’s just looking at your relationship from his own perspective and how he handles his own relationships.  I don’t even think it’s an issue of respecting or not respecting marriage.  
        If you and your husband weren’t married, a committed unmarried couple in a long-term relationship instead, he would have said the same thing because he’s looking at your relationship as if it were his own.

        It’s like when two people in a marriage or relationship enjoy activities without their friends and it does not include the other partner (like girls night out, etc.).  Some couples wouldn’t consider doing something without the significant other (my parents, for example).  

        It’s just having unique styles within a relationship.  I think he was just commenting on it and nothing more.  I don’t think he gave it any more thought than just that.

        Who cares what other people say about your relationship anyway, right?  Right.