Let’s keep it 100. Unless it’s same sex, these days marriage just isn’t a big deal. Although the purpose of this think piece is not to advocate marriage, I can’ t help but wonder if you’re living like you’re married why not just get married?! I digress. The excuses for not getting married are as varied as the couples themselves. They range from, “I’ve been there, done that and ain’t thinking about doing it again” to “a piece of paper don’t mean nothin” and everything in between.
I won’t devote time weighing the pros and cons of why folks should or shouldn’t be married. This is what I know, when folks are in a long term relationship without the benefit of marriage and someone dies, 9 times out of 10, the survivor is left in the cold. Being left out in the cold effect can happen to women and men alike. However, it’s more likely to happen to women.
Here’s how it plays out. Your living with your significant other and something happens. They get sick, die, leave, you break up yada, yada, whatever. The point is, you’re no longer together. What do you walk away with? Think about it now. Better yet, what do you deserve?
Anyone who thinks you shouldn’t walk away with something is crazy. The time you put into that person, cohabitating, putting up with their nosy momma, their mood swings, their illness, their joys, their sorrows, their triumphs, their weaknesses, waking up to their morning face(come on now), their insecurities, their strengths, keeping their secrets, having their back, all the celebrations,funerals, graduations, ceremonies; their sadness, their up times and down times, the mood swings (I know I already mentioned this but I figure it’s worth mentioning again), sharing the bills, their annoying habits you thought were cute when you first met, their this, their that. If you really think about it, you’re closer to this person than their own biological family because you deal with her/him E-V-E-R-Y S-I-N-G-L-E D-A-Y. After considering all of this, if you still think you don’t deserve something you may be a little off, just a little. Of course, none of this applies if you’re leaving an abusive relationship. But if you aren’t, there are some things you can do to protect yourself and prevent the all too common trend of being a fool! What follows are my rules aptly called How Not to be a Fool,
1. Keep Separate Bank Accounts, duh!
2. Your stuff is yours and hers/his is his/hers. Let me clarify, in the event that you end up leaving the relationship, you leave with EVERYTHiNG you bring to the relationship.
3. Fill out an Advanced Health Care Directive, these forms are at most major hospitals and allow you to make medical decisions in the event your boo should become sick.
4. Don’t put your sweetie on your employer sponsored health insurance. Why? because unless something has changed in the past few months, the IRS does not recognize domestic partners. Benefits are treated as taxable income.
5.If you’ve been together for a while and plan on staying together, set up some sort of estate plan. Without one, the relative you don’t want to have your stuff just may end up with your stuff and your boo walks away with nothing.
6. If you buy a house together make sure your name is on that title. In the event of a break up, the house will go to whoever is on the title. But even if your name is on the title it can still be a headache deciding what to do with the house. Hell, just don’t buy a house together.
7. This is so important, make sure you are listed as a beneficiary on your sweet hearts life insurance. What? Okay, here I go. Some people may have a problem with this. For those people I have a simple question, how much does a person truly love and care about you if they don’t give a damn about you after they die?