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When I read Opal Stacie’s article Why After Six Years and Two Kids, I’m Not Worried About Marriage, I was reminded my long held belief that marriage is what you make it. As I’ve watched friends rush into marriage in their early twenties just to have a title or to ease any guilt that may have had about “living in sin”, I realized that when you’re in a relationship for all the wrong reasons, it’s just not going to work whether it’s for love, the law or the Lord.  Marriage really requires loving and staying faithful to someone when they’re at their worst and really foreseeing the rest of your life with them no matter what happens.

When my fiancé proposed to me last summer, it just felt right.  He was the first man I could realistically see myself growing old with.  I met that man during one of the lowest periods of his life, and still loved him anyway so I had complete faith that we could take on anything together.  To me marriage means that from that day forward, you don’t have to go at life alone. Method Man and Mary J. define what marriage means to me when they said, “Won’t let you hit the ground, if I’m falling myself,” in their rendition of All I Need.

Now I’m not the most traditional person in the world.  I will have been living with my fiancé for three years by the time we get married this fall.  I think there are plenty of long-term relationships that put most marriages to shame, so I understood where Stacie was coming from when she said that she and her partner have the commitment that most marriages do “without the fancy title”.  But let’s be real that “fancy title” and “piece of paper” changes things, at least legally.  And there are certain things wives are entitled to that long-term girlfriends aren’t. I figure if you are going to build a home with a man, and start a family, WHY NOT get married? Love isn’t always enough when building a life with someone.  In the unfortunate circumstance your spouse passes away, Social Security is not going to give two squats about your level of commitment.  All they care about is what matters in the eyes of the law.

Don’t get it twisted, there’s a reason why same-sex couples are fighting for marriage equality.  Marriage guarantees some legal protection and benefits, that being a glorified girlfriend doesn’t. Most importantly when it comes to children.  Here’s 11 ways how:

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