Life partner vs marriage: What’s the difference?

When committing to a partner, not every couple goes the typical route of marriage.

Some prefer to simply be life partners.

But when looking at life partners vs marriage, what is the big difference?

We will get to the bottom of it so that you can eventually make the right choice for yourself!

What is a Marriage?

First, we want to get really clear on the definitions of marriage and life partnership in order to figure out what we are dealing with, exactly.

Marriage is the legal union of two people. It is a legally binding contract that states two people are committed to one another, financially and emotionally.

For those who are religiously inclined, marriage is also a spiritual union.

You see, marriage is seen as the ultimate union between two people.

It is a bond that is meant to last a lifetime.

Typically, people who enter into marriage have their eyes set on the big picture: lifelong commitment and companionship.

There are no expiration dates on marriage. It is not something that should be taken lightly or entered into without thought, as it involves two people pledging to become one, in every way possible.

People who marry usually do so because they want to spend the rest of their lives with another person and build a family together.

This is what makes marriage such an important decision in life.

The union of two people can either be harmonious and bring them both joy, or it can be tumultuous and lead to years of pain, anger, and resentment between partners.

Of course, marriage is also a bit harder to get out of, hence the big decision to enter into it in the first place.

However, if you are willing to take on the responsibility of marriage, you will be rewarded with a lifelong companion and a family.

What is a Life Partnership?

Now that we have gotten clear on what marriage is, we can now look at life partners.

Although there are many similarities between life partners and married couples, there are also many differences.

A life partnership is simply a union of two people who have chosen to commit to each other for their entire lives but choose not to legally marry and not enter into any religious or spiritual bond.

The difference between a life partner vs marriage comes down to the fact that one is legally binding and the other is not.

Furthermore, those who choose to be life partners do not want to get married because they do not feel it is necessary for them as individuals or for their relationships.

In other words, a life partner is an agreement between two people to be committed to one another without a legal obligation.

This can come in handy if one or both partners are not interested in marriage, or if one or both partners are not financially stable enough to enter into a marriage.

A life partnership is not legally binding, which means there are no requirements in terms of financial or emotional obligation between the two partners.

Partners are free to end their relationship at any time with no consequences.

This is also what differentiates life partners from married couples – sometimes they are less inclined to be committed as they aren’t legally bound to one another.

However, that does not mean that life partners cannot be committed to each other.

Some couples who are life partners choose to get married because they want to make their relationship more official and binding.

Of course, this also means that it is much easier for a couple who are life partners to end their relationship than a couple who are married.

The union of two people can either be harmonious and bring them both joy, or it can be tumultuous and lead to years of pain, anger, and resentment between partners.

These are some of the reasons why people choose not to get married – they want the flexibility in their relationship that comes with being a life partner instead of having the commitment and restrictions that come with marriage.

Of course, either one of these partnerships can be beautiful and strong or tumultuous and toxic, the label doesn’t define the relationship.

But let’s look at the big differences:

The Big Difference – Legally Binding Contract

As we mentioned above, one of the biggest differences between marriage and life partnership is the legal contract.

If you are married, you are both obligated and legally bound to each other for the rest of your lives.

If you are a life partner, you are free to pursue a new life partner at any time and without any legal consequence.

Simply put, a life partner can be broken at any time by either partner.

Marriage, on the other hand, is a legally binding contract that dictates one couple will remain together until death.

If a couple ends up getting a divorce, they have to go through a lengthy legal process to get out of the marriage contract.

That also means that things such as cheating can be sued in court when it comes to marriage.

If you are a life partner, you have no legal recourse if your partner cheats.

This is one of the reasons why some people choose to be life partners instead of getting married – it gives them the freedom to date other people and not face any legal consequences for doing so.

However, that is not the main reason why people remain life partners instead of marrying.

Some just don’t believe in the act of being in a legally binding contract with someone they love.

This brings me to my next point:

Another Big Difference – Commitment Vs. Legal Obligation

Another difference between marriage and life partnerships is the level of commitment each partner has to the relationship.

When two people are legally married, they are legally bound to one another.

They are committed to one another financially, and they are committed to one another emotionally.

Not only are they committed to each other, but they are also obligated to each other.

If one person in the relationship loses their job, the other partner legally has to take care of them financially until they are able to find a new job.

It doesn’t matter if the other partner has a job, if they have savings, or if they have the ability to take care of themselves.

When two people are legally married, they have a legal obligation to one another.

Now: while that is beautiful in its own regard, many people prefer the route of a life partnership, where they will still be committed to one another, but only out of the love they feel for that other person, not because of some contract.

They also don’t want to be obligated to one another financially, which is a huge plus when it comes to life partnerships.

The only thing they do is love one another, and that’s all that matters in a relationship anyway.

So, a lot of life partners have the argument that they don’t need a contract in order to support each other fully and commit to one another.

They can do that on their own.

That is the main reason why many people prefer life partnerships instead of marriage.

It’s because they don’t believe in having to be legally bound to one another.

And, in my opinion, that’s okay.

Ask a Relationship Coach for advice

While the points in this article will help you deal with the difference between marriage and life partnership, it can be helpful to speak to a relationship coach about your situation.

With a professional relationship coach, you can get advice tailored to the specific issues you’re facing in your love life.

Relationship Hero is a site where highly trained relationship coaches help people navigate complex and difficult love situations, like deciding whether they want to get married or not.

They’re popular because they genuinely help people solve problems.

Why do I recommend them?

Well, after going through difficulties in my own love life, I reached out to them a few months ago.

After feeling helpless for so long, they gave me a unique insight into the dynamics of my relationship, including practical advice on how to overcome the issues I was facing.

I was blown away by how genuine, understanding, and professional they were.

In just a few minutes you can connect with a certified relationship coach and get tailor-made advice specific to your situation.

Click here to get started.

The Next Big Difference – What It Means for Children

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Another big difference between marriage and life partners is what it means for children.

If you are legally married and have children, you have a legal obligation to raise those children with your partner.

You are also financially obligated to take care of those children in the case of divorce.

Assuming both partners are financially able to take care of the children, they both have an obligation to do so.

The biological parent would still be financially obligated to their children, even if their partner passes away.

Now: apart from the financial part, some children do not understand why so many kids in their class have parents with the same last name while they don’t have that.

So of course, for the children, it can get a bit confusing.

That’s why some people prefer marriage when they plan on having children.

They simply don’t want their children to go through the confusion of not having the same last name as their parents, and that’s okay.

The Next Big Difference – What It Means for Your Finances

The next big difference between marriage and life partners is what it means for your finances.

The way I see it, there are two categories of people who get married: those who get married because they are in love with someone, and those who get married because they think they can get money by getting married instead of just living together.

The latter group gets into a lot of trouble sometimes, because when it comes to finances, you should only be with someone if you’re in love with them.

And if you’re in love with someone, then you wouldn’t need to get married for financial reasons; it would be out of love.

So if you’re planning on getting married just to save money, I would highly advise against that idea unless you really don’t care too much about the other person and are just there for the money.

It’s not worth the heartache that will come after your relationship falls apart due to lack of trust or whatever else comes up when couples get married for any reason other than loving each other.

Now: we already mentioned earlier that marriage is a legally binding contract and usually, that means each person’s assets will from now on be split 50/50.

For example, if you and your partner are living together and you both have $100,000 in the capital, then this money is considered yours and his/hers.

This is the case because marriage is a legally binding contract that says that each person’s assets will belong to both partners when they get married.

If for some reason your partner dies, their assets will go to you.

Also in the case of a divorce, things can get really sticky when you are married.

After all, your assets will be split up and the partners can sue each other for more money.

Again, if you’re planning on getting married and aren’t in love with the person, I highly advise you to rethink your idea.

Because things can get ugly when you’re in a marriage for any reason other than being in love with the person.

And it’s not worth it.

If you struggle in your own marriage, this next point is for you:

Another Big Difference – What It Means for Your Social Life and Your Relationships With Friends and Family Members

The next big difference between marriage and life partners is what it means for your social life and your relationships with friends and family members.

Well, while most people are relatively open and understanding, many friends and family members might not approve of your choice of not getting married.

And that’s totally fine.

It’s your life, and you’re allowed to live it however you want.

Just know that if you choose not to get married, you might have some explaining to do.

After all, many people might not understand why two people would choose to live together without being married.

But again, it’s your life and your choice; so if you don’t feel like getting married, then don’t do it!

My advice here is to have your opinions straight and be ready to calmly explain them.

More often than not, people who have a problem with life partnerships have just never taken the time to really think about why marriage is not for everybody.

Explaining it to them might open their eyes to a different route to go, that is just as full of love as anything else!

The bottom line is that you’re free to do what you want with your life.

And if marriage just isn’t for you, then don’t do it!

You’ll be much happier in the end.

The spiritual difference – committing to someone fully

First off, I have to say that some people are not a big fan of marriage; this is because they don’t believe that the government should be involved in people’s private lives.

However, we are currently living in a society where people believe that marriage is necessary because they think they need the government’s permission to show their love for each other by getting married.

But if you think about it, this is technically not super important, because even though you might be legally married through the government (the state), your relationship is still based on love; so there shouldn’t be any reason why you would need a legally binding contract, right?

Yes and no. While both of these relationships can be just as loving and committed as the other, there is a spiritual difference between marriage and life partnership.

If both partners are religiously inclined, marriage is a spiritual union.

A marriage is a commitment to a partner that goes beyond the physical.

When two people are married, they are spiritually connected to one another.

They are committed to one another, and they are spiritually connected, often in the name of God.

When two people are life partners, they are committed to one another, but they are not spiritually connected to one another in the same sense.

Now, before you come at me, I believe 100% that life partners can also be spiritually connected, but we’re talking from a religious standpoint here.

For some people, religion isn’t even the biggest factor, though, they believe that marriage means the ultimate form of commitment, and this is because it’s a public statement that says that they are committed to one another.

With life partners, there is no public commitment, at least not like that.

There is no legal document signed in front of anyone, and there is no official ceremony to make the commitment.

With life partners, the commitment comes from within; and it isn’t something that you can prove or demonstrate to anyone else.

Life partners are committed to one another by choice, not by law.

Now you might argue that this is even more proof of their strong connection, and I agree! Life partners definitely have a strong connection!

It just isn’t the same thing as marriage, but that’s like comparing apples and pears.

Now, this is not to say that these are bad things; they’re just different things.

In my opinion, marriage and life partnership are both great ways to be with someone you love!

If you’re religiously inclined, go for marriage!

If you’re not so into religion or spirituality, skip the religious aspect and go for a life partnership!

What are the similarities between marriage and life partnership?

Well, you probably have gotten the gist of it all by now, but marriage and life partnership really aren’t so different apart from some legal aspects.

They are both (hopefully) rooted in love and commitment, and they’re both rooted in the idea of a lifelong commitment.

Now, a life partnership really can be lasting forever.

Marriage, on the other hand, can also end in divorce if things don’t go well.

So there really is no guarantee, no matter which path you end up choosing!

Essentially, both of these relationships are signs of love and should be honored as such.

Marriage might bring you the advantage of being a legal family member, having the perks that come with that, and being legally committed to your partner.

Other than that, these two lead practically the same life!

In the end, it’s up to what you prefer

At the end of the day, it’s up to you to decide if you want to be a life partner or if you want to be legally married.

It really depends on what you and your partner want out of the relationship, and what you feel comfortable with.

You see, there is no answer to the question of which one is better or worse because they are simply different!

Both can be a lifelong happy partnership, both can end up in divorce, breakup, and heartache.

I believe that with the right person, you don’t need a legal contract to be committed to them, but it can be beautiful to know that you made the ultimate choice to be with them.

So really, whatever floats your boat is good.

Anna Scheucher

Anna Scheucher

Freelance writer specializing in holistic health, wellness, and psychology. Check out my blog to find out more!

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