3 Couples on Why They Decided to Get Married After Years of Living Together

Getting Married After Living Together

Photo: Getty Images

Sometimes the decision to wed is made almost at first sight — but sometimes it's the opposite. Here, three longtime couples reveal what finally convinced them to take the plunge.

The Couple of 11 Years
Caren says, "We met in 2000 and moved in together within six months. It felt like forever love but we were both divorced, no kids, and neither of us felt an urge to marry. I didn't feel important to go through the whole huge ceremony, bridesmaids, flowers, caterers, photographer thing again..."

What changed their mind and led to a wedding? "Some health issues came up for both of us. Nothing horribly serious but it made us think that we wanted to cement what we had and be able to make medical decisions for one another." At the wedding there were 25 guests, spectacular flower arrangements, and yes, the bride wore white. "It really was the most beautiful night of my life and brought us even closer. Luckily, Dan and I both stayed healthy!"

The Couple of 12 Years
Joan and Pete had each been married — once for him, twice for her. So when they met, neither was eager to wed again. In the ensuing years the duo enjoyed many romantic vacations including seeing the Eiffel Tower in Paris and moonlit cruises. They often joked about getting married on a beach, but when Pete finally popped the question last year it was during a quiet Friday night of TV watching. During a commercial the memorable words uttered by the groom to be were, "Do you want to make it three in one year?"

Joan recalls, "At first I didn't realize what he was talking about. I asked 'Three what?' My son and daughter had married in respectively, January and September. When it sank in that he was proposing I said I couldn't plan another wedding in 2014 but we could do it in 2015."

Now in the home stretch of party preparations — the wedding is next month — Joan says, "I have such a sense of peace about getting married after 12 years together. We really know each other and what we want. And frankly I'm tired of referring to Pete as my 'significant other.'"

See More: Watch: A High School Teacher Proposes To A Fellow Teacher With Ring Pops (And Her Students!)

Another Couple of 11 Years
When Diane and Jim met they were 29 and 30 respectively. Neither had ever married but it didn't seem a priority — they were focused on their careers. After 11 years together both experienced "light bulb moments" that it was time to take the relationship to a new level. While Diane didn't expect a proposal, she got one at the fabled Bethesda Foundation in New York's Central Park.

Their black-tie wedding took place in a historic landmark building in Westchester, New York. There were 85 guests. Diane explains, "Getting married at 40, the idea of 10 bridesmaids seemed silly. But there was a matron of honor, best man and my brother walked me down the aisle."

Before the wedding Diane couldn't have imagined having a child. The couple has a now 10-year-old adopted daughter from China. "Before we married we'd gone through so much together. But the legal commitment added heft and seriousness."

Sherry Amatenstein is a New York City-based marriage therapist and author.

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