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Non-Marriage Joining Ceremonies


Spiritually Rich, Non-Religious Ceremonies for Lovers

Susan M. Mumm, MA

There are many books about marriage ceremonies, and I have written some marriage ceremonies myself. However, there is not much written about other kinds of ceremonies for lovers, for example, ceremonies for starting what you might call a “serious” lover relationship, or for moving in together. Not all couples want to get married. This does not mean that they do not want or need to pledge some commitments to one another for building a happy, successful relationship. I therefore think we are in need of some ceremonies that people can use for the times in their lives when they don’t feel marriage is an appropriate choice for their relationship.

Some percentage of people choose to be married for the majority of their lives. Some people choose to never marry. What will perhaps become the new norm, is that many people will spend some decades of their lives in a marriage, and some decades in non-marriage types of relationships. Some of these non-marriage relationships may be quite long-term and serious, and I therefore think couples could benefit from participating in some kind of ceremony to provide structure and inspiration for such relationships.

Likewise, most young people will participate in several serious relationships before settling into a marriage. It would be nice if these non-marriage relationships could be ended on more amicable terms than they often are, and perhaps converted to friendships. What would make this more likely, is if people entered such relationships with an awareness that they might not be life long and an attitude that that is okay. This first ceremony in this section "Vows for Successful Lovers" cultivates this kind of healthy attitude. Vows for Successful Lovers is also appropriate for middle age couples who are involved in a serious relationship that may or may not evolve into a marriage.

The second ceremony is a “moving in together” ceremony for people who do not want to be legally married. I have known a good many couples who have had happier and longer relationships than their married counterparts. I think legal marriage is a great thing. But it is not for everybody, nor appropriate for every stage of life. I think sometimes people think if they are not getting married, there is no need for a formal ceremony, but I beg to differ. I think a moving in together ceremony is a great way to celebrate, define expectations, and share your goals and aspirations with family and friends.

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