As I write about "Rites of Passages", I will not refer to religion vs. spiritual since I believe "Rites of Passages" are moments in all our lives that brings us to the next stage as we mature. It's the natural progression of our human maturation. It doesn't matter if you are religious or non religious, or if you are an atheist. Most ROP are obvious, such as births, birthdays, graduations, marriage, and death. Some are not as obvious such as starting pre-school, first relationship date, moving, first time being allowed to wear make-up, first date, first career job and even divorce. I don't understand how everyone is there for your wedding but no one is around when you get divorced. Divorce is a stage of life that shakes us to our core. No one should be alone during that time and it should be celebrated for starting a new beginning with people who are close to us.
I have officiated over 200 weddings and only one couple that I married did not live with each other. It's a very open society and a lot of the rules have changed. I am not judging this at all and I do believe making the leap from dating to living with each other is one of those not so obvious ROP. For example: A very dear friend of mine in her 50's is dating a very wonderful man for the last year. They live several hours a part and the commute was starting to wear on them. They decided to make the relationship last, one of them had to move. My friend is the one who made the move and also changed jobs in the same area. She was exhausted not only from the move but also from the new job. She also was feeling off balance and over whelmed. Although the move is probably the right decision, she went from being single to living in a committed relationship similar to being married. There wasn't any engagement period. I think couples who decide to live with each other need to have some sort of ceremony to help with this transition. If there isn't an engagement towards marriage, what is it? Is it an engagement towards the engagement? Today people just call it-we live with each other. So what does that mean and what does that bring to that relationship? Living with someone should not be treated lightly. It's similar to being pregnant. I think the nine months being pregnant gives time to prepare for the birth. How would it be if one day we said I want a baby and the next day you had one. Even adoption takes time. We have baby showers to welcome in the new birth, we have engagement announcements to tell the world we are a couple planning on getting married. Maybe couples could have a "live in" party, making an announcement and celebrating with several friends/family members. A ritual could be added to the ceremony such as a "commitment box" where the couple writes their love for each other and what their hopes are for the co-habitating, etc. The box could be opened every 6 months or so to re-afirm their intentions. I know somewhere along the way one of them will want to marry.
Rituals such as this helps us stay on our paths. It gives direction of how we want to live and gives voice to our feelings. Ritual helps us check in, it can help bring clarity to a situation, it can also bring comfort and sometimes healing-which I will discuss in my next blog.