'I've been with my partner for 18 months. I just found out we have opposing ideas about marriage.'

I've been with my partner for 18 months and we've just had our first big clash of values.

Given that neither of us has any intention of breaking up, this means one of us will inevitably end having to change or forfeit their own beliefs.

The argument is about marriage and whether in 2022 there is really any need for it anymore. I am a female in my late twenties who is in strong support of the sanctity of marriage, and my partner a male in his late thirties who is invariably against it. Not because he’s not committed as many people jump to conclude, but because of a set of very logical and sound reasons. So much so that, despite my strong stance of support for weddings and marriage, as a feminist and a realist, I’ve struggled to contend his points. 

So if I agree with his logic, why then do I still feel utterly heartbroken at the thought of not experiencing it?

Watch the Mamamia team reveal their relationship deal-breakers. Story continues after video.

Video via Mamamia.

While de facto partnerships are common these days, so are bending the rules of weddings to suit you as a couple. So I tried to get to understanding the “why” behind his standpoint.

Is it the cost? The legally binding nature of marriage? The showiness? 

“It’s everything. All of it,” was his response.


I’d have been willing to compromise on any of these. Our guest list would be minimal, and I hate social media, so costs and splendour could be kept low. Or if it had been the legal aspect, I’d suggest a commitment ceremony on our de facto date rather than a legally binding wedding. But the fact that it’s everything means these alternatives can’t even be negotiated.

He made all the reasonable points that marriage changes nothing. And in his own romantic way, he said that marriage isn’t commitment – showing up to a relationship every day devoted to the other person is, and he does that, so we’re already doing better than some marriages. 

“You hate being the centre of attention, anyway. So why do you even want to get married? Wouldn’t you hate it?”

He’s right about the first part, but not the second.

Marriage is a uniquely human experience. Not having one feels like losing a rite of passage. We’re emotional and spiritual creatures that act out all sorts of rituals that don’t actually make sense or have “meaning” beyond what we choose to prescribe to them. The concept of money and currency which rules the world is a human construct too, and he subscribes to that, right?

“Yes, but money is still necessary. Weddings are not.”


I try tapping into the romantic aspect instead. I explain that for someone to turn to you one day, and say that of the seven billion people in the world, they choose you to spend every day with... it’s beautiful and special. We often describe wedding days as being the happiest day of a person’s life.

“But I can say that to you now. I’m choosing you now.”

But if we don’t choose to celebrate these happy meaningful moments of life; if we live every day without commemorating those things in life which are special and joyous, then every single day just blends into one and what’s the point of that?


“Well, I’d rather spend that money on travel. That’s what would make me happy.”

He’s not understanding me... I try changing tactics and meeting him on his logical level.

Well, there are social understandings about relationships. Not that what other people think is the be-all-and-end-all of our decision making, but the joke is made that often that “de facto just means he doesn’t want to marry you”. And besides, a ring is an international symbol that someone is off-market. It’s nice to go out and not have to worry if people are flirting or just being friendly.

“But people cheat all the time when they’re married. So why does that make any difference?”

I retaliate by saying “Yes, but the husband never leaves his wife for the mistress because those vows, that promise means something.”

I can feel how weak my argument is getting and how frustrated he is getting. He says I’m trying to lock him down and I get angry and frustrated and slam a door saying I’m not but why does it even matter if he’s so committed, anyway.

It’s ugly. We pull it together and regroup.

In a last-ditch effort, I tell him he’s wrong about a married spouse not having more legal weight than a de facto-spouse. I’ve worked in hospitals and in the funeral industry and have seen how “de facto” doesn’t have the same weight as “wife” or “husband” when push comes to shove. I’ve seen de factos miss out on coming into ICU over parents, having to contest wills, and that on cremation forms, “de facto-spouse” isn’t even recognised. This gets his attention, and he says he didn’t know all that. He’s listening. But I don’t mention that my hospital experience is a decade old, and the de facto lady contesting the Will didn’t actually live with her partner.


The next day I go to work and see that the cremation forms I process every day do in fact recognise de facto-spouses. This is great, and yet I feel completely deflated. I declare to him that my last argument points were all as flimsy as the rest. I cry for two days. 

Three weeks later, and I still feel like I’m mourning the loss of something deeply important to me, which I don’t understand because I can’t even come up with a legitimate reason.

We’ve agreed to speak to the married people in our lives, and keep an open mind to their answers.

I’m about to become a marriage celebrant and am now suffering quite badly by the cognitive dissonance this has created. If I convince myself to accept in my personal life that marriage is pointless and unnecessary, then I have to accept my whole career is also pointless. But if I stay true to what I believe that marriage is beautiful, then I will continue to mourn the lack of that experience in my own personal life. 

I don’t know what the outcome of this dilemma will be, but having studied psychology; outside of my hurt I find this internal battle deeply interesting.

He’s asked if it’s a deal breaker for me to which I’ve said it’s not. I won’t be throwing away a wonderful relationship when the reason I value marriage and weddings so highly is because of my intense appreciation for healthy relationships.

Feature Image: Getty.

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