I was driven to write the post given the number of times I have explained our story. Everyone is quite curious to understand why I'm now wearing a wedding band but did not announce (except for Facebook) our marriage. People want to say 'congratulations' but aren't quite sure if we are only engaged, married or ???
It all started quite simple, both Jörn and I felt like we were more than the traditional labels of 'boyfriend/girlfriend' yet we didn't want (or need) the complications of a legal marriage. Don't misunderstand my language here, by no means do we believe that our marriage will be 100% without complications. To the contrary, we learn more about each other all the time, and fall deeper in love because of our faults. No, what I mean about complications are exactly the legal aspects.
For starters, Jörn is a German citizen, I am American citizen and we live in Switzerland. In case that doesn't already spell it out for you here are some more details. Being an American citizen living in Switzerland (or anywhere for that matter) is becoming increasingly difficult due to the American government 'cracking down' on the super rich people hiding their money to avoid paying taxes. Woo hoo!! I'm all for tracking down those big fish and making them pay taxes, HOWEVER, all the small fish out there are getting caught up in the process. I won't go on and on here about all the issues there are for Americans living abroad, I'll save that for another post. Or better yet you can jump on over to American Citizens Abroad to read about all the stuff you have to think about if you want to live abroad. For us it meant a big hurdle to jump just to tick off the 'legally' married box.
In addition to the citizenship issue, there are several other reasons why we decided a 'legal' marriage was not right for us... right now. Planning and successfully executing a wedding in Switzerland, away from family and friends is not ideal. Switzerland is not the cheapest place to host a wedding! Personally I'm also a little 'wedding'd out'. I spent the majority of my twenties either going to weddings, photographing weddings or participating in the wedding party. I love weddings! Really, I'm the real life Katherine Heigl from 27 Dresses. The only problem with that many weddings is that a little of the romantic-ness is lost every time I witnessed the 'behind-the-scenes' of a wedding. I've planned many events from business to private and a mixture in-between and I'm good at planning a great event. I should really want to plan a wedding, but I also know the stress that planning a wedding, especially your own, can cause. I will take a pass on that. What about Jörn, you ask? He has a thing about large groups of people. Stage fright, anxiety, fear or whatever you may call it, he would not enjoy that kind of event especially if the spot light would be on him the whole time. He agrees on a pass for an actual wedding ceremony.
Now on the the most important reason why we don't need the legal certificate of marriage; we don't need it to define our relationship. In fact it's a little tiring to try to 'fit' our relationship into some conventional box with proper labels. To us, we are married. We have committed ourselves to each other, said our vows to each other and have agreed to spend the rest of our lives trying to make the other person's life better.
Once we decided on this course we have again and again reaffirmed that we have made the right choice for us and that is really the only thing that matters. We would love to hear about your stories on non-traditional marriages, leave comments below!