Marriage, marriage. . . I can honestly say it's one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life. In Sept. we will be celebrating 5 years!
We got married when we were both barely 22. We had been in a long distance relationship for the 1 year that we knew each other. As soon as we met (in a bar, btw) there was the instant love at first sight feeling. We didn't see each other again for about 6 weeks, but after meeting that one time, each of us called our parents and told them that we met "the one". Needless to say, our parents and friends told us we were all crazy, but in our hearts we knew what was right. We got engaged 4 months after we met (he proposed) and then got married 9 months later, after college. The proposal was really more of a formality, as we had already set the date and were planning everything, but we were in no hurry to do anything "formal". But he knew it would mean a lot to me, so he surprised me.
Since we were living in different states, that's the one of main reasons we chose to get married - so we could actually start a life together. We found an apt. and moved in together for the 4 months between college graduation and the wedding. My parents weren't thrilled about it, but I still don't think his parents have a clue. (His dad is a pastor and his parents would have had a cow!)
Anyway, we got married because we wanted to and we knew it was right. And even though everyone thought we were nuts, we're the ones who are still together and happy as clams!
I always said I wouldn't change my last name until I met DH - then I actually wanted
to change it. I dropped my middle name, so my real name is first name, maiden name, married name.
To answer your other question about living together - maybe I'm old fashioned - and I am in no way criticizing people who do live together - I don't know if it's something I could ever do. At least when we did for 4 months, we had a serious commitment. I know after building a life together it's hard to step back and start over if it doesn't work out. I have a friend who lives with her boyfriend now. She has a good job, wants to buy a house, etc. - but what happens to the boyfriend? Does he automatically have the right to her success, especially when he doesn't have what she does? They have no commitment whatsoever and call me pessimistic, but I doubt it will work out.
It just seems to me there needs to be some sort of serious long-term commitment - even if it's not marriage.
Okay, I think I've rambled enough!
Very interesting thread!