Today, when it was announced that Maggie Gyllenhall and Peter Sarsgaard were wed, a commenter noted, "now they can refer to each other as "spouse" or "husband" instead of the super-creepy "lover!'" But:
Last month, on a post where Jon Hamm and Jennifer Westfeldt were mentioned, another commenter wrote, "I love that Jon Hamm and Jennifer Westfeldt have been together for something like 12 years and are just happy being together. They don't have to get married or seal it with a ring."
Someone else countered:
The only problem with that arrangement can be when you get older and you are on Social Security as your main income. My friend's aunt and her boyfriend were never married after 20+ years. He just died and she will not be getting his Social Security, which was more than what she gets. Normally the surviving spouse gets the larger amount. She won't be able to afford their house and needs to move. Not that this would happen to Jon Hamm but it could. And I'm not sure if different states have different rules. They are in Colorado. In California I know there is a common law marriage after 10 years even if you don't officially tie the knot.
Keeping in mind that it is a tradition rooted in the transfer of property, and things like dowries, pre-nups and joint tax returns still exist, what are the pros and cons of marriage?
(Susan Sarandon & Tim Robbins; Angie and Brad; Oprah & Stedman)
Things to consider:
- Your commitment to your partner is nobody's business but your own
- Your money is your own!
- Refusal to conform to some societal norm that says you "must" get married
- For the straight ladies: No need to explain why you did or didn't take his last name
- If you break up, no legal divorce messiness
(Ashton & Demi, The Beckhams, Jay-Z & Beyoncé)
- Public ceremony: Letting your friends and family know you're in this, for real
- Financial security — shared health insurance and tax breaks are definitely skewed to benefit the legally wed
- Hospital rights in a medical emergency
- Inheritance rights
- Should kids enter the situation, they're legal heirs (think of Matilda Ledger, who legally was not the recipient of Heath's estate)