Following up on Luther's contract encouragements, I agree. You need to have some plans in place, and there are organizations/lawyers that will help you to do that. This has been brought up on other threads with resource links, so I won't repeat it here.
My question still is, why do people get legally married? Why did you (those of you out there married or getting married), do it? I can think of several reasons, many of which have been brought up before:
1. The church advocates it and you are religious
2. You feel pressured by society
3. You don't think it's right to raise a child in an unmarried household
4. You don't think you should live with someone unless you're married
5. You do it so others in society will take you more seriously as a couple
6. You do it for convenience (i.e. don't want to deal with a lawyer to get your estates planned out, wills set up, etc.)
7. Your significant other thinks it's really important and places value on it
8. You see it as the next step, without really knowing why - you've grown up with it
9. You do it for financial reasons (to get more benefits, even if you don't agree with them)
So it's not that I disagree with this article, but think it's incomplete. Take Matthew and others like him (even myself) for example. You already consider yourself married (which I take to mean here committed to one person with the plan to make it last forever, live together, things of that nature). You don't think that the marriage (meaning the new legal status of your relationship) will change anything, and you see the wedding at just a party to show your friends and family your commitment. THEN WHY TAKE THAT STEP? (contract, not party)
It's like saying I don't think I'll get any additional pleasure out of eating that brussels sprout, but I'm going to do it anyway. No explanation given why.
People all the time say "the contract doesn't mean anything", "marriage doesn't change anything", yadda yadda. Then why are you married? It usually doesn't get answered. Why write posts & article about how it really doesn't mean anything different, but then say "but I'm getting married"? That's just a question of curiosity, really. Because I do think you have to really look at why you're going through with something.
With these discussions recently, I asked my boyfriend if he'd be okay with it if we possibly never got married. After explaining why I felt that way, and what the alternatives are to marriage (in terms of the legal stuff we have to go through), his next question was, what don't we get? I told him things that explicitly say you have to be married to receive. The family membership at the Y, health insurance for your spouse through work, etc. His response was "No health insurance? That would really suck if one of us was ever out of work for a while..." But all along, I've been saying the reason I'd get married is purely financial. It wouldn't be to prove I loved someone more, or that I felt we'd be accepted more by society, it's that we could get tax breaks, discounts at theme parks, discounts on auto insurance, great healthcare for next to nothing (I work at a hospital), etc. etc. etc. etc. etc.