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Alternatives to marriage

(79 Posts)
sunshineandbooks Fri 17-Jun-11 10:42:11

First of all, apologies to any married feminists who may take offence at this post. That's not my intention. I am not having at go at people's individual marriages. I think some marriages work fabulously well, including that of my own parents.

However, the more I learn about feminism, the more radical I am becoming. I realised after posting on another thread the other day that I don't ever want to live with another man. I want to date and have sex, certainly, and I like the idea of having a 'special' long-term relationship with the right man if I met him, but I definitely do not want to live with him or get married. In my RL I know one or two people who feel the same way (both single mothers like me).

I have realised that day-to-day I only see one man on a regular basis - and that's my boss (who is lovely and very feminist in outlook). All the people I see regularly are women and children (of both sexes). And I find this doesn't matter. I used to worry about the absence of a decent male role model for DS but I've got over that now because I think it is fine as long as he's seeing decent role models full stop. I will teach him that the most important thing is to be a decent person, and that is irrespective of gender. As he grows older and increases his own social circle, he will meet plenty of men and be able to see which ones are good, which ones are bad, and which ones he wants to emulate.

I don't like the idea of living in a commune because I think it only works if you set up the commune yourself with people that you already know you can live with. I'd actually be really up for this scenario but out of my little single mothers community, I am the only one with any sort of independent income, so we're a bit stuck on getting it off the ground, sadly.

I sometimes think about moving in with another single parent and sharing things economically like you would in a marriage. Except that as much as I love my friends I know I couldn't live with them like that because we all have habits that drive each other mad. grin I think it's an idea that works in principle though. What do others think? I often wonder if we'll see a shift in house-buying patterns anyway, with more people buying house in partnerships (i.e. economic not sexual partners) simply because these days pretty much no one can afford to buy a house on their own.

What other alternatives are there - other than living alone as I am doing now? I like living alone TBH but from a childcare perspective it makes sense if you can pool your resources. That said, if money wasn't an issue I guess I could hire a really good nanny and continue to live on my own anyway.

What do other people think?

MooncupGoddess Fri 17-Jun-11 11:13:59

Hi sunshine,

I feel like I am stalking you today, but if you will keep making interesting points... smile

I think about this a lot too as I am a happy single person. I don't feel the need for marriage or children at the moment (of course I may meet the love of my life tomorrow, as I am frequently reminded confused) but I really enjoy getting to know my friends' children and would love to be more involved.

It has to come down to community, doesn't it - some way of life where we can live close to the people we care about and share each others lives', but be able to close the door when necessary. (Unlike full-on communes which can be really hard work in lots of ways, I think.) But of course the traditional village model can be very stifling, and modern capitalism demands flexibility and the willingness to move for jobs etc. Hmm. What do other people think?

celadon Fri 17-Jun-11 11:15:19

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

garlicnutter Fri 17-Jun-11 11:27:45

Same-sex friends buying or renting together isn't at all new - you can afford a bigger kitchen & bathroom that way - but, long-term, it does become 'like a marriage' so you need to be wonderfully compatible anyway. In my own experience, I picked covertly abusive flatmates just as I did husbands (dammit!)

No way would I live in a commune. I'd consider living in a retirement community, maybe 10 years hence, but again it would have to be compatible with me and my personality, not just age- or sex-related factors.

Whenever I read shock-horror reports about the inexorable climb in single-adult households, I think "Well, duh! We choose it because it's better this way!" And because we can, obviously.

My ideal would be to live on my own, with near neighbours whom I really liked. I have been this lucky sometimes, and it's GREAT. Unfortunately you can't force your neighbours to stay put!

Even my highly un-feminist mother now prefers a live-nearby-but-not-together realtionship smile I've always said I'd love to have a LTR with a male soulmate ... who lives on the next street! (I must have known which way I was headed, husband-wise. Should have listened to myself!)

Imo, improved economic strength gives us greater choice. We're lucky we're not obliged to join our lives to someone else's for practical reasons. Very lucky.

garlicnutter Fri 17-Jun-11 11:29:17

Aha, celadon, your co-housing is the same as my 'retirement community'. I forgot these options are available to other groups, as well smile

snowmama Fri 17-Jun-11 11:31:34

ummm garlicbutter unless you have school aged and under children to raise .. then it is very difficult to do it on your own, hence sunshines initial point.

For me, genuine co-parenting is the nirvana (which sadly I will never experience).

Next best is some sort of resource split - sharing with someone who is happy to live rent free, and will help out with childcare? But again back to personalities being compatible.

I still personally love the 'single mama house share model' - I think it would suit me well, but how possible it is, I don't know.

garlicnutter Fri 17-Jun-11 11:41:11

Yeah, I know, I've served time looking after kids by myself smile Not having my own doesn't mean I've lived a uniformly child-free life! It's nonstop, isn't it?

Of course it's easier when you can share the taxi duties parenting. But living long-term with another independent adult IS difficult and can erode your personality if you choose poorly. Just like a marriage.

Afaics, it comes back to: [1] be lucky & wise in your choice of partner; [2] be lucky with your neighbours; [3] get a very big house to share with three or more others; [4] be filthy rich.

If childcare is the priority, wouldn't it make sense to live somewhere with a high proportion of single parents and join in (or set up) sharing schemes?

dittany Fri 17-Jun-11 11:41:13

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

dittany Fri 17-Jun-11 11:42:11

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

garlicnutter Fri 17-Jun-11 11:44:06

House-share extremely possible. Mortgage providers and landlords will treat you the same way as a couple. Tax and benefits agencies already have rules in place for sharers.

sunshineandbooks Fri 17-Jun-11 11:46:02

Dittany, that's fascinating and incredible for the times, especially given women's invisibility in legal terms (or was Europe different to Britain?)

How can we revive them? (without the god bit though)

snowmama Fri 17-Jun-11 11:49:03

Love the concept. Would be good to remove the religious aspect, but a really interesting idea.

Imagine what sort of capital outlay you would need to get something like that built - but if occupants could rent or buy, you could make the money back in no time at all...

dittany Fri 17-Jun-11 11:49:22

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

celadon Fri 17-Jun-11 11:55:27

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

snowmama Fri 17-Jun-11 12:02:33

I am also loving the cohousing article.

I wish I was rich. Do we have any quiet property developers/investors lurking in our midst, I can do the business case....wink

snowmama Fri 17-Jun-11 12:04:24

.. not that i makes much difference, but as actually meant to be a smile !

anastaisia Fri 17-Jun-11 12:16:52

We share with my mum - I couldn't if she wasn't wonderful, but she is so we can have a relationship where we're (usually) 2 adults living in the same house. But sometimes we get fed up. Not enough not to do it though.

I keep half jokingly trying to talk home ed friends into buy/renting on our street (there were lots of properties available the other month) because to me that would be idea - our own homes but a community and we could all help each other out. But no-one did....

Takver Fri 17-Jun-11 12:32:07

I'm never quite sure how different co-housing is from a lot of intentional communities. I lived in an intentional community for a number of years (where most members were living in separate houses with their own front door, kitchen etc, though there was also a large house where some members lived in single rooms).

It doesn't look that different from most co-housing developments I've seen in the UK (tbh, it feels like 'co-housing' is the latest trendy name), and I think thats true of most communities these days.

Its fab for kids, but the big downside for me is that was like being married to 20 different people, rather than an escape from that dynamic!

celadon Fri 17-Jun-11 12:42:53

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

sunshineandbooks Fri 17-Jun-11 12:47:53

Takver interesting perspective. Do you think that you'd feel the same in any community or do you think it was down to the people who were in that particular community? I imagine it would depend on how sociable you are too.

Thanks for the link celadon. One of the things I took from the article is what's always appealed to me about the idea of communal living - the number of people who become important in your life and your child's life. Perhaps I'm a bit naive here, but in this sort of setting if another parent died for example, I'd be willing to pitch in and between us all we could care for that child without having to send them off somewhere completely different. It's always worried me that if something happened to me, my kids would be in care. My parents are dead, my sister lives on the other side of the world and although she's willing and is named as guardian in my will, I'm not sure she could cope - having significant health problems of her own and a child with SN. Out of my friends, only one would be able to do it, and I don't think she would be allowed (having had her own DC temporarily removed due to MH issues, although they are both back now). I sometimes feel my children have a really small world and the glue holding that world together is me. If I go, it all collapses like a pack of cards. I would love for them to have more people in their circle so I could know that if anything happened to me they'd be ok.

Fennel Fri 17-Jun-11 12:48:28

We lived in communal set-ups when we first had children (and before), small intentional communities, you might call them. It worked fine mostly and we would do so again. The reason we don't at the moment is really due to the complexities of finding suitable properties given the costs of housing in much of the UK (we had too many children between us, too fast), and we were all very keen on not being car-dependent which made those lovely big properties with loads of land in the middle of nowhere too complicated. But we still share childcare for 5 children between 4 adults, our co-parents live round the corner now. That has been working for us for a long time.

I am planning to set up a retirement commune someday, I think these things can be a lot easier when you don't have shared childcare. For us, and for friends who also tried it, the hardest thing was having different parenting styles. Even only slightly different parenting approaches can create quite a lot of tension in daily life. Other people's unrestrained toddlers, shudder....

sunshineandbooks Fri 17-Jun-11 12:52:18

Just from the threads posted so far it looks like the greatest barrier here is money - quite a few of us would be doing it if we could afford to buy the properties it seems.

sparky246 Fri 17-Jun-11 13:27:53

theres loads of old buildings about laying empty.
i dont know why the councils dont take them over/do them up then let them out to single parents who want to share.

Takver Fri 17-Jun-11 13:36:10

Sunshine " Do you think that you'd feel the same in any community or do you think it was down to the people who were in that particular community? "

I think it was probably a mixture of circumstances + the people. I think the killer for us was that because we were managing a large area of land as a group, we had to work together as well as live together.

Previous to that we'd lived in a very communal house-share in two adjoining shared terraced houses (for about 6 years) - so the living together bit - and that was fine.

We were then in our own house in what is perhaps most tactfully described as a 'hippy village' grin which had a fair need for community agreement on use of resources and some need for communal working to maintain services. That was also fine.

I think if I were setting up my ideal women only (or mixed) partly communal setting it would involve as little communal management of resources as possible - so individual gardens, for example, not a shared field (even if some women then chose to pool their plots. And where there was a need for communal management, I'd try to minimise the need for day to day decision making by the group.

I also think Fennel/Sunshine that you have a very good point, money & the cost of properties is the single largest barrier, (in fact the community we lived in doesn't own its property but rents from a friendly landlord who charges way under a market rent for the site).

sparky246 Fri 17-Jun-11 13:37:27

well i do know why[i think]
rich people let theyre buildings lay to rot sometimes for tax purpurses-
shouldnt be allowed.

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