Commitment Ceremonies 101
September 22, 2011 9:23 AM Subscribe
Commitment ceremonies: how do you do them? Particularly - how do you explain the idea to family?
posted by divabat to Human Relations (29 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
My partner and I have been together for just over five years, with the relationship being open (I'm queer and occasionally see other women; he's working on seeing other women too) for the last two. It's been working great so far and we're in it for the long haul.
Recently we've been talking about having some sort of party or ceremony to recognise the journey we've been on, the deep love and companionship we hold for each other, and to celebrate that with the people we care for the most. (Personally I feel that people make an effort to show up to weddings rather than other social events!) However, the idea of marriage/a wedding gives us the heebee-jeebees. His parents are divorced, which has tainted the idea of marriage for him; I find issues with the assumption of exclusive commitment.
We thought about possibly having a commitment ceremony - essentially like a wedding, but without the legal marriage paperwork. While we both like the idea, we're stuck on how to explain it to our families (really, mine, since they're from a more traditional Asian culture; his is pretty liberal). I tried to ask my aunt about it as a test and she replied "How do you have a wedding without the registration? That's not a wedding!"
We live in an area that has de facto laws, so technically we don't even really need to legally marry to get most benefits since we're de facto already. Trying to explain that to said aunt was a little confusing though; she was wondering about how I wouldn't be so sure that he wouldn't cheat on me or run away with the house and all that. (I'm very sure he wouldn't!) And to be honest we're still a little confused ourselves, especially as it relates to visas (I'm applying for Permanent Residency and we were wondering whether a visa based on marriage makes it easier since my app's been in limbo for yonks).
People love him, my family adore him and keep asking when we'll get married, if we did get married we'd probably get "ABOUT TIME" as a response. Yet I don't really want to have to stand in front of my family and go "the reason we're not exclusive is because I am a lesbian whose love of my life happens to be a man, and we've both found that you can be dedicated and committed to each other without needing to limit the sex to each other. Oops, TMI!" I want the celebration, I want my loved ones to be there with us, I want the recognition and validation - I just don't want the hassle.
Have you made it work? How did you get around traditional/conservative ideas of relationships? How do you deal with possibly disappointing your father because he's not going to "give you away", or with confusing everyone because there's no paper to sign? Is there a way to keep everyone happy?
(I feel quite a few people would say "just do what you want to do, screw family"; however, for me, commitment ceremonies of any kind have always had family as a major factor - a blending of families and cultures, in our case. I would like to respect them while also keeping true to ourselves.)