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Marriage Isn’t the Only Way to Be a Family

Newlywed feminist writer Jill Filipovic says although marriage is still a “sexist institution,” it “makes you family.” Does it?

We attach a lot of meaning to marriage — love, commitment, children, financial security, etc. But does marriage make you a family? That’s what attorney, feminist writer, author and newlywed Jill Filipovic claimed recently in an article on why she changed her mind about marriage.

Marriage makes you family, which was especially important to us, since neither of us particularly want children; and family means sticking together through the tough spots, and coming out with a love that is deeper and stronger for it.

As a twice married and divorced woman, I had to think about that. Did marriage make me family? Now that I’m divorced, am I no longer part of a family? And was marriage the only way to stick through rough spots and become deeper and stronger?

Families by marriage don’t always last

But here’s the thing — not all of those families lasted. I lost contact with my first husband’s family when we split and he married again (and he lost contact with mine), and I lost contact with my second husband’s family when we split although my children are still (happily) connected to them. I lost both my parents in recent years and although I have a sister, I no longer talk to her — for healthy but complicated reasons.

Marriage ‘validates’ relationships

Most of us tend to prioritize romantic-sexual relationships over other types of relationships, especially if we wed; as Filipovic notes, “It’s silly that marriage is the clearest path” to how we validate a relationship and family, “but in the United States, it is.”

Award-winning journalist, coauthor of “The New I Do: Reshaping Marriage for Skeptics, Realists and Rebels,” mom, changing the narrative about older women

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