Fourteen years ago, when I was first divorced, I had a mission: I was going to find another husband. I was 41 and not getting any younger, and back then I thought marriage equated to a real family (whatever that means). I thought being married meant stability and happiness. Boy, was I wrong.
My quest to find husband number two was a disaster. What I mean by disaster is who I dated: a man who was hot and cold, a guy who was desperate to get married again before his ex-wife did, and someone who had multiple addictions. My rush to become a Mrs. again caused a roller coaster of excitement, disappointment, frustration, and low self-esteem.
It took me less than a year to realize that I didn’t need a husband to find happiness in life. What I needed was to like myself more. Almost a decade and a half later, I must really, really like myself because I remain unmarried. Over the years, I’ve watched several of my friends get divorced after me and then get remarried. To sum it up, I consider myself the last man standing.
But just because I am happy being technically single, that doesn’t mean I don’t believe in love. I happen to love love, and I have actually been in love with the same person for the past six years. We’re best friends. We listen to each other, care deeply for each other, and respect one another. We laugh till our cheeks hurt and we still kiss like two characters in a romance novel.
So, how come we haven’t tied the knot? Because we’re doing something that seems to be a trend amongst divorced people right now: put a ring on it, skip the wedding, and stay eternally engaged.
The idea for this article stemmed from a post on the Divorced Girl Smiling group page that read:
I don’t want to be married. I did that for 30 years and now I’m done. I don’t want to live with someone. Again, I’m done. But I would really like to have a partner who feels the same. Spend a couple evenings a week hanging out, going on weekend adventures. But living our own lives. Are there even men out there who want the same thing?Don’t like ads? Become a supporter and enjoy The Good Men Project ad free
The post got dozens of responses, almost all in agreement that marriage after divorce might not be the way to go. Chiara DeLosh, a mom of two who got divorced four years ago wrote this:
I completely agree! Just give me attention and a forever fiancé diamond.
“Forever fiancé diamond?” I love it! DeLosh might have just found a marketing campaign that could catapult Zales’s sales to the moon! I reached out to her to talk about why she would prefer to be a “forever fiancé,” versus a second wife.
“I’ve already been married, and I’ve already had kids, so this time around I’d like an equal partner,” said DeLosh, a Florida-based financial advisor. “I’m not opposed to getting married again eventually, but I’m willing to embrace a much longer engagement or a lifetime engagement.”
But there is one thing that marriage and an eternal engagement have in common: a diamond ring.
“The ring is a symbol of commitment, just as it is for a married couple,” she said. “A ring says, ‘I’m in this relationship forever. I’ll love you, I’ll care for you.’ Just being boyfriend girlfriend leaves it open. There’s always potential to break up. The ring kind of says that he is committed and his heart is in it.”
Melissa Olson got divorced in 2009 and began dating her now forever fiancé a couple of years later. In 2015, he proposed with a diamond ring.
“We were excited and happy and kept living life waiting for the right time to have the wedding,” said Olson, a Chicago-based mortgage banker and mom of a teenager and young adult.
Six years later, the two are still engaged.
“We have the security of being each other’s life partners,” she said. “We don’t need anything legal to bind us. I like knowing we’re not dating, we’re engaged.”
A sapphire and diamond forever fiancé ring has been sitting on my left ring finger for over two years. I often get asked if I’m engaged, and my answer is always vague and includes an ear-to-ear grin. I think it’s because I’m just happy. Wearing a ring makes me feel connected, bonded and committed.
The beauty of not being married is that either of us can walk away from the relationship whenever we choose. Since there is no house in both our names, no assets to divide, and no kids for whom we need a custody arrangement, there’s no weighing the positives and negatives of staying or leaving. We stay together for the right reason: love, not for the fear of what will happen in the divorce.
Skeptics might think those eternally engaged don’t have a real commitment or a real relationship. To be honest, I think I have an idea of what it would be like to be married to my forever fiancé, but I won’t know for sure unless we take a walk down the aisle together someday. What I do know is that more important than knowing if it’s real, is knowing that it feels very right, which it does. I’m happy in the relationship every single day. There is trust, loyalty, respect, enjoyment, likability, thoughtfulness, and of course, love. Isn’t that more important than a piece of paper that legally binds two people?
Some might also think not getting married is taking the easy way out. Maybe they’re right about that, but why is that a bad thing? As divorced people, haven’t we been through enough hard times?
The hallmark of mindfulness, which is a big buzzword in today’s culture, is to focus on being in the present for the purpose of finding gratitude, relieving stress, and staying healthy. Being eternally engaged is, in my opinion, a true example of being in the present.
Instead of trying on wedding dresses, tasting wedding cakes, and sending out invitations in anticipation of the big day, you’re here, right now, enjoying every moment with each other. You’re not gearing up for a life together, you’ve already arrived. Being eternally engaged to me feels like I’m lying on the beach with the sun beaming down on me. In other words, the honeymoon never ends.