Should we get married?

My gf and I have lived happily together for many (18?) years. We plan on being together until one of us dies, anything beyond that is creepy. We are listed as each others “next of kin” on our Advanced Directives and we have simple wills leaving everything to each other. When we have had surgery etc we’ve had no problems not being married. We file our taxes as single people.

My gf is currently acting as executrix for her aunt’s estate. The aunt was 82 and left the bulk of her ~2.25 million dollars to her two sisters who are in their 80s and in declining health. Serving as executrix has spurred her to straighten up our affairs, as she will eventually have a bunch of money to disperse.

Ever since moving in together we’ve played with the idea of getting married, mostly as an excuse to throw a big party. But now we have been considering just getting a license and filing it, but are there any good arguments pro or con? I have two kids who are adults. She has no children. She is 62, I am 63. We do not plan on having any children of our own.

What is your humble opinion?

Yes. Can’t see why not, unless there are certain financial penalties or costs of getting married (such as taking on each other’s debt or something). That being said, a big party would probably be a little bit strange, given how long you have been together already.

Even with the precautions you have already taken, actually being married may be helpful from the standpoint of medical care, and being able to make decisions for each other without having to navigate bureaucratic tangles.

I’ve read enough stories about non-married partners having issues with hospitals and doctors deferring to legal relatives (in your case, your children), rather than the partner, even with legal precautions having been taken, to suggest that it may be worth your while, especially as you get older.

There was a subtle shift in how people perceived us after my wife and I were married (10 years together before that, both of us married previously) It shouldn’t be that way, but we definitely felt that our relationship was taken more seriously as a married couple. Plus, she could get on my health plan.

We had a very fun party for about 60 people at our house. A good time was had by all.

If you have a large estate, these are the kinds of things that get contested by disgruntled relatives. Marriage provides a more solid wall around your relationship and makes it harder for relatives to squeeze their way into your affairs. Relatives may be able to contest the wording of those documents or whether you were pressured to sign them. But those strategies aren’t really feasible for the relative to use against a marriage.

Hah, I must run with a party loving crowd. Before COVID my friends had parties for any reason. Because of COVID we will skip the party, though.

I guess that’s the thing we want to avoid. If we can get married for $100 (Pennsylvania fee for license when both parties are divorced) it should be worth it.

When I was younger, my peers and I regarded marriage as a structure of the patriarchy, just a piece of paper, an imposition on personal freedom, etc. Now I am married. The social structure makes various things much easier when a couple is married (even if you already have power of attorney, etc.). Plus at your age there are additional considerations, such as social security survivor’s benefits, for which you have to have been married. Personally I would recommend getting married, since you plan on being together anyhow and have had a successful relationship for such a long time. If you each had children you might want to consider a prenup, but that’s not an issue for you. But you could always consult an attorney together if you have detailed questions.

I would say yes. You are already committed to each other long-term, and as much as you may think you have all the necessary legal ducks in a row, you might be surprised by what weird corner cases will slip through the cracks or how much the “spouse” designation cuts through the red tape.

And weddings are awesome. My wedding was the best and most fun party I’ve ever thrown. Don’t miss out on that!

One benefit that may come in handy is that spouses aren’t compelled to testify against their spouse.

Depending on what state you live in, you might already be legally married. It’s called a common law marriage. Currently legal in 8 states. The only problem with this is many states that do not allow CL marriages also do not recognize them from other states.

Common Law Marriage by State (

Probably you should, but it’s your call. I agree with having the party though, if that’s what you both want. One can decide to throw a party for ANY reason, or even no reason at all.

Asking for wedding gifts might upset some folks, though.

But Kayaker has been clear they hold themselves out as boyfriend/girlfriend, not as a married couple. Which, if I recall correctly, is an element of common law marriage. It’s not enough to live together, you have to consider yourselves married. Which they don’t.

For example:

Common Law Marriage: “persons cohabiting and acknowledging each other as husband and wife, and generally reputed to be such, for the period of 3 years, and until the decease of one of them, shall thereafter be deemed to have been legally married.” (N.H. Stat. §457:39)

In any event, PA is not one of the states.

Pennsylvania doesn’t have common law marriage. There are times we meet people and they assume we are husband/wife and we do not correct them.

Years ago I was visiting friends who were a nice couple. She was updating her calendar and pointed out, jokingly, that in a week they would celebrate their 7 year anniversary and would therefore be married.

The next day she came home from work to find stuff missing from their apartment. She ran back outside and called 911 from a neighbor’s house. After the police cleared her apartment, they asked her to come in and assemble a list of what was missing. All her boyfriend’s possessions were gone. There was a note saying, “sorry, not ready for marriage”. Never heard from him again.

I’m flattered, but no…no.

I’ve heard this, but really? A two week long marriage grants this protection, but living together for decades doesn’t? Hmmmm.

Yes. Really. There are two spousal privileges. One apples to testifying. One applies to communications. There are, of course, exceptions.

We will be meeting with my friend/lawyer soon to update wills and get some executrix questions handled.

I have a feeling that when this law was established, “living together [unmarried] for decades” was not a thing that anyone considered was even done. And they probably also might have thought if you did that sort of thing, well you don’t deserve the protection of the law.

But ya got a point!

One peculiarity of the law, at least in Arizona, is that your corpse belongs to your next of kin if intestate. I don’t know if you can control that via a will but it is possible that your next blood relative decides how to dispose of your body and not your unmarried significant other.

Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn have been together and unmarried for decades, and I think they even have a kid together without being married. Of course, they both have plenty of assets as movie stars on their own. I am not sure if it makes any difference for the OP WRT assets, but I think the practical aspects of marriage may be an advantage for some situations (e.g. legal, the previously mentioned health directive, health insurance if one of you retires, social security benefits, etc). You can probably work to find ways around some of those limitations, but it may take some work, whereas marriage includes all of these benefits.