The Meaning of Marriage

I've been thinking a lot about how or if our relationship will change after our marriage is official. Our living situation would not change, as we are already cohabitants. Other than the legalities that accompany a marriage license, I wondered what might be different. I thought about the vows we will take in less than eight months- to honor one another, to stick together through good times and bad, sickness and health, for richer or poorer. Aside from stating these things in front of our loved ones, I feel that we have already vowed, though not verbally, to do these things for one another. One of the aspects of our relationship that I love, love, love the most is the respect we have for one another. This is something that I had not experienced with other relationships, but came very naturally between the two of us. With our respect for each other, we are able to really listen to one another and share a comfort in expressing our hopes/concerns/fears/joys we experience both within our relationship and also that we experience as individuals.
Though we haven't been exactly poor at any time, we've both struggled through paying our bills through college and now with the fears of today's unstable market. Finance is a subject in our daily conversation. We don't have a joint bank account, and will continue to have the majority of our money in separate accounts after we marry, but we do share expenses now and if one of us is struggling, the other helps out.
I have a chronic illness. X has known this from the beginning of our friendship that predated our dating relationship. He's never treated me differently because of it, but when there are times that I'm ailing, he takes care of me. We have discussed concerns that may arise because of it later in our relationship, and I know he will be there despite it. The same can be said for myself if he is ever ill.
Throughout our relationship, we have gone through a number of trials. When we first began dating, to put it bluntly, I had a lot of issues that were a result from my last relationship. It was hard for both of us in the beginning, but we've made it through that. In the last year, both of our mothers were diagnosed with cancer- which has been an ongoing emotional rollercoaster for both of our families. We have been each others supports, a shoulder to cry on, an outlet to vent, a place to laugh and enjoy life. This is what marriage is. Though it may vary from person to person and differ through religious point of views, this is the core.
And so, when I think about what will change between us, I can say that not much will. And that's okay, because really I feel we are already married- in our hearts.
What does marriage mean to you and your s.o.?

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