NYRican in LA: Not Getting Married and Not Happy About It

PHOTO: Mamita Mala and her boyfriend do the photo booth at a friends wedding. But will he put a ring on it?

June is the most popular month for weddings in the U.S. but I will not be walking down any aisle in a white dress in the foreseeable future. For most people who know me, this isn't a shocker. I was never one who dreamed about taking another person's last name or picking bridesmaids. For most of my life, I rejected the idea of marriage. A piece of paper won't validate a relationship and being someone's wife isn't a goal I need to attain to feel complete or closer to someone. Marriage seems like an arcane institution based on certain class, gender and sexual orientation privilege. Then why am I upset that my live-in boyfriend told me that we wouldn't be getting hitched?

Growing up, my parents' 17-year marriage failing due to infidelity showed me that wedded bliss ends in disappointment and depression. That's not to say that I completely wrote the idea off. I happily accepted a ring on my 18th birthday in a Greenwich Village Spanish restaurant from my then boyfriend. That fell through in large part because of us attending colleges in different states, meddling mothers, and us just being way too young and idealistic, thinking that young love based on us being politically-active young Puerto Ricans was enough.

When pregnant with my first daughter at age 19, again I allowed myself to fall prey to the fantasy that a whole family meant one with married parents. I expected the Chilean father to come to New York and marry me in the white dress I wore in a church for my high school graduation. He canceled those plans at the last minute and I wrote off the idea of ever being a bride.

Call it justification or deeper political awareness but from then on marriage seemed like something that straight couples did, often for convenience. Friends of mine married to get health insurance or to get their green cards and sponsor children left behind in other countries. I didn't know many people in my circle who wed out of love and a desire to publicly state their lifelong fidelity to one another. I rejected the offer from the father of my second daughter to marry me and I'm pretty sure my childhood and adult experiences with that institution led to my justifying getting emotionally and sexually involved with not one but two married men.

At first I was I grateful that my current pareja held the same negative feelings about marriage. He had been in a relationship with the mother of his child for over a decade without exchanging vows. He grew up witnessing his own parents' dysfunctional marriage. But one night on the phone, he from Los Angeles told me in New York that I was the type of woman who made him reconsider, who made him want things he never thought he wanted. He wanted to marry me, eventually.

Suddenly the issue was on my life table again and instead of rebuffing the idea, I embraced it. I was flattered and excited and deeply in love with this man. It would be nice to share something just between the two of us. It would mark the merging of two lives that via technology challenged distances. It was incredibly romantic and I fell for it. I suddenly wanted it.

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