There are some places that make us want to fall in love. Whether it is a colorful sunset, casting an alluring glow upon your love, or just the addition of live trumpets and horns while dining in the South; regardless, feeling moonstruck is something we all look forward to.
So, whether you wish to spark a flame with a new lover, rekindle a flame with a longtime love, travel with your beloved for a short romantic break, or go on the quintessential honeymoon after your wedding, here are the most romantic travel destinations, worldwide, to set the right mood.
1.Hawaii (Maui, Kauai)
Best Time to Visit Hawaii: Spring to Fall
Kauai is notorious for its enchanting sunsets, postcard-perfect coastlines, laid-back surfer towns, and fewer tourist crowds than other Hawaiian isles; it is the idyllic choice for the outdoorsy couple looking to embrace the Aloha spirit. Kauai is a favorite for couples who want to get away from the crowds and enjoy secluded, natural beaches.
Make sure to check out: The food trucks and bohemian boutiques. Enjoy a picnic on Hanakapi'ai Beach and a couple's massage at the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa or the St. Regis Princeville Resort. In addition, get your heart racing with a hike along the Kalalau Trail and have your breath taken away by the views of the Na Pali Coast's inspiring green cliffs.
2.Quebec City, Canada
Best Time to Visit Quebec City, Canada: Winter to Fall
For the overly warm-blooded couples, visiting Quebec City in the Winter could be the ideal place for a cozy winter getaway. A charming French-Canadian city, Quebec is full of snow-covered streets, romantic restaurants, and plenty of fireplaces to cuddle up to. Nevertheless, if you cannot take the cold, fear not, Quebec City is still a romantic destination for you. In the Spring, visit Quebec to enjoy the jazz bars, trendy shops, and kayaking/canoeing tours.
Make sure to check out: The music and drinks at the local jazz bars. Visit the Musee de la civilisation, Montmorency Falls, Cathedral-Basilica of Notre-Dame de Quebec, and the St. Lawrence River. Also, make sure to go to the ice skating rinks and take kayaking and canoeing tours.
3.Charleston, South Carolina
Best Time to Visit Charleston, South Carolina: Spring to Fall
With Spanish-moss draped strolls, horse-drawn carriage rides, antebellum char, and a thriving culinary scene, there are more than a few draws for romantics to Charleston, South Carolina. Take your partner to have a memorable barbeque meal and enjoy the historically rich architecture. Once you're done, don't forget to stop by the local places for a bubbly evening filled with wine, cheese, and soulful, live jazz.
Make sure to check out: The much talked-about Husk restaurant in Charleston. Linger over an intimate meal at Peninsula Grill and take a low country walking tour to appreciate the city's history-steeped beauty.
4.Buenos Aires, Argentina
Radiating passion, Buenos Aires is a beautiful, multicultural city that is the birthplace of the tango: the dance of lovers. Perfect for a romantic vacation, Buenos Aires' historic architecture, beautiful gardens, and boulevards lined with trees for a romantic stroll are great ways to show your romantic partner a good time.
Make sure to check out: The Puerto Madero for an evening stroll. Take a helicopter ride over the city, enjoy a picnic in the La Costanera Ecological Park or a tango lesson or two, dine al fresco in the Palermo Viejo neighborhood, and watch a Tango show or opera.
Best Time to Travel to Bruges, Belgium: Spring to Fall
Bruges is a city consisting of magnificent medieval buildings, pretty canals, and picturesque streets that look straight out of your childhood fairy tale books. Cobblestone streets are lined with scenic buildings housing boutiques, chocolate shops, and eateries offering exquisite fare. Through its amazing food, vast history, rich cultural heritage, warm people, and "magical" villages, Bruges makes for a romantic escape.
Make sure to check out: The Old Town and cycle around with your boo to explore the parks and cafes surrounded by a canal. Share some world-renowned Belgian Waffles. Visit the Basilica, Salvador Dali Exhibition, Windmills, Groeninge Museum, Ice Sculpture Festival, the River in Antwerp, and the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Best Time to Visit to Paris, France: Spring and Fall (cheapest in Winter)
Paris is an exquisitely beautiful city to discover on your own; though, it is even better when you're accompanied by your significant other, mainly because the city exudes romance. From sidewalk cafes perfect for getting cozy to some of the world's most passionate art, Paris is synonymous with romance and you'd be remiss if you left it out.
Make sure to check out: The neighborhood of Montmartre, with its cobblestone streets, is a charming place to explore and witness breathtaking views of the city below. Naturally, there is the Eiffel Tower, which is even more awe-inspiring at night, when it sparkles. Also, check out the renowned art at both the Musee du Louvre, and the Musee d'Orsday and take a nightly stroll along the Seine or the striking Pont Alexandre III.
Best Time to Visit to Santorini, Greece: Spring to Late Fall
With its iconic blue-domed churches, whitewashed buildings, and magnificent cliff-side vistas, there is no wonder why Santorini draws tourists from across the globe. The romantic charm and serene vibes of the striking island of Santorini has made it a popular choice for a romantic getaway. While here, take your love to admire the magical sunsets, marvel at beautiful Grecian buildings, and enjoy tastings at top-notch wineries.
Make sure to check out: The Venetian Castle in Akrotiri, along with the La Ponta Tower. Hold hands and, together, experience the thrill of cliff jumping at Amoudi Bay. Spend a relaxing day on Kamari Beach, hike the active volcano in Nea Kameni, escape to the Red Beach, explore the Atlantis Books in Oia, party like the Greeks at Enigma, and travel above the beautiful island from a helicopter. In Santorini, your romantic options are never-ending.
Best Time to Visit to Venice, Italy: Mid-Spring and Early to Mid-Fall
Venice is an Italian city perfect for lovers. Whether on a honeymoon trip or simply a romantic getaway to express your love, Venice is undoubtedly the perfect romantic destination. From a dinner date with a beautiful view of the Grand Canal to experiencing the popular gondola ride, there are a limitless amount of adventures you and your romantic partner can endure.
Make sure to check out: The Teatro La Fenice and watch Opera like you never have before. Enjoy a cuddlesome gondola ride and Vaporetto ride. Visit the Dorsoduro shop, the Doge's Palace, the Rialto Bridge, the San Giorgio Maggiore, the Alberoni Beach, and the Restaurant Terrazza Danieli.
Best Time to Visit Rome, Italy: Fall to Spring
Brimming with old-world charm, Rome stands as one of the most romantic cities to travel in the world. Hand in hand, take your romantic partner wandering along the streets to take in all the beautiful architecture. In Rome, you have art, history, food, and win culture at your fingertips; all you have to do is reach out and grab it.
Make sure to check out: The Eternal City offers a cinematic backdrop with its instantly recognizable landmarks, from the Pantheon to the Colosseum to the Roman Forum to the Trevi Fountain. Also, leave some time to thoroughly explore the Borghese Gallery, Borghese Gardens, Spanish Steps, Piazza Navona, and the rendezvous restaurant "The Library" with your loved one.
10. Kyoto, Japan
Best Time to Visit to Kyoto, Japan: Spring
Kyoto is one of the most romantic destinations to explore with your special someone. Have a romantic boat ride along Kyoto's cherry blossom-lined along the Okazaki Canal. With tranquil destinations brimming with astonishing beauty around every corner, it's hard to pass up this romantic city.
Make sure to check out: The Gardens are often some of the loveliest areas to experience such as the Kyoto Botanical Gardens. The Kyoto Botanical Gardens feature cherry blossom trees — ideal viewing time is in the Spring — flowers, opens spaces great for having a relaxing picnic, a greenhouse, incredible temples, and relaxing public baths. Afterwards, make your way to Gion, which houses willow-flanked roads and gorgeous stories tea houses. Check into the Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto and you'll have the ideal accommodations, framed by the Higashiyama mountain range.
11.Koh Tao, Thailand
Best Time to Visit Koh Tao, Thailand: Winter
Koh Tao is a tranquil place for nature-loving couples who are looking for a relaxed romantic vacation on a stunning island. The rich and diverse marine life of Koh Tao has been one of the leading factors for drawing beach lovers from across the world. This tiny island in Thailand is known for its world-class scuba diving opportunities and spectacular sunsets.
Make sure to check out: The remarkable sunsets from lantern-lit restaurants that line the beach. Go sunset swimming at Sairee beach and island hopping to neighboring islands like Koh Samui and Koh Phangan. Watch the sunset at Mango Bay Viewpoint. Enjoy a romantic dinner at Thaita Italian Restaurant, Blue Heaven, The Gallery Restaurant, and Eagle View; plus, be sure to check out their many romantic resorts.
12. Srinagar, India
Best Time to Visit to Srinagar, India: Spring to Late Fall
Known as "Paradise on Earth," Srinagar is stunningly beautiful and downright romantic. From the arc of green mountains with snow caps to the placid water bodies, to the colorful floating gardens, to the array of houseboats and shikaras in Dal Lake in Srinagar, Srinagar makes for a surreal scenery that every couple would want to enjoy.
Make sure to check out: The houseboats in Srinagar. Plus, take a shikara ride in Dal Lake, meander through the royal Mughal gardens — Nishat Bagh, Chashme Shahi, and Shalimar Bagh — with your beloved.
13.Cape Town, South Africa
Best Time to Visit Cape Town, South Africa: Fall to Spring
Cape Town is one of the most beautiful and most romantic cities in the world. Having stunning scenery, endless small adventures, gorgeous beaches, and cosmopolitan culture, Cape Town makes the perfect place for a romantic destination.
Make sure to check out: The hiking trails on Table Mountain. Enjoy romantic strolls on the white sandy beaches and vintages cars at Franschhoek Motor Museum, taste the finest wines at Cape Winelands, and take a cable-car ride over to the neighboring cities.
Best Time to Visit to Marrakech, Morocco: Spring and Fall
With vast stretches of the Sahara Desert on one side and the mighty Atlas Mountain peaks on the other, Marrakech is a city that provides a unique setting for a romantic vacation. From exploring the markets to watching snake charmers to taking refuge in charming boutique hotels, known as riads, Marrakech is wonderful for lovers to travel together. The breathtaking landscape has palm trees, and the aforementioned view of the Sahara Desert and Atlas Mountains.
Make sure to check out: The Majorelle Garden. In addition, make sure to visit Jemaa el-Fnaa public square, intricately designed Bahia Palace, Koutoubia Mosque, Saadian Tombs, and take a horse or camel ride through the dunes of Palmeraie.
Featured image by Shutterstock
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Originally published on February 5, 2019
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Taysha Robinson is a writer and high school English teacher, based in metro-Atlanta. A self described philomath, you can find her reading books and articles of every genre, attending educational conferences, and hiking wherever the terrain will allow.
Amber Riley Is In Her Element
Amber Riley has the type of laugh that sticks with you long after the raspy, rhythmic sounds have ceased. It punctuates her sentences sometimes, whether she’s giving a chuckle to denote the serious nature of something she just said or throwing her head back in rip-roarious laughter after a joke. She laughs as if she understands the fragility of each minute. She chooses laughter often with the understanding that future joy is not guaranteed.
Credit: Ally Green
The sound of her laughter is rivaled only by her singing voice, an emblem of the past and the future resilience of Black women stretched over a few octaves. On Fox’s Glee, her character Mercedes Jones was portrayed, perhaps unfairly, as the vocal duel to Rachel Berry (Lea Michele), offering rough, full-throated belts behind her co-star’s smooth, pristine vocals. Riley’s always been more than the singer who could deliver a finishing note, though.
Portraying Effie White, she displayed the dynamic emotions of a song such as “And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going” in Dreamgirls on London’s West End without buckling under the historic weight of her predecessors. With her instrument, John Mayer’s “Gravity” became a religious experience, a belted hymnal full of growls and churchy riffs. In her voice, Nicole Scherzinger once said she heard “the power of God.”
Credit: Ally Green
Riley’s voice has been a staple throughout pop culture for nearly 15 years now. Her tone has become so distinguishable that most viewers of Fox’s The Masked Singer recognized the multihyphenate even before it was revealed that she was Harp, the competition-winning, gold-masked figure with an actual harp strapped to her back.
Still, it wasn’t until recently that Riley began to feel like she’d found her voice. This sounds unbelievable. But she’s not referring to the one she uses on stage. She’s referencing the voice that speaks to who she is at her core. “Therapy kind of gave me the training to speak my mind,” the 37-year-old says. “It’s not something we’re taught, especially as Black women. I got so comfortable in [doing so], and I really want other people, especially Black women, to get more comfortable in that space.”
“Therapy kind of gave me the training to speak my mind. It’s not something we’re taught, especially as Black women."
If you ask Riley’s manager, Myisha Brooks, she’ll tell you the foundation of who the multihyphenate is hasn’t changed much since she was a kid growing up in Compton. “She is who she is from when I met her back when she was singing in the front of the church to back when she landed major roles in film and TV,” Brooks says. Time has allowed Riley to grow more comfortable, giving fans a more intimate glimpse into her life, including her mental health journey and the ins and outs of show business.
The actress/singer has been in therapy since 2019, although she suffered from depression and anxiety way before that. In a recent interview with Jason Lee, she recalls having suicidal ideation as a kid. By the time she started seeing a psychologist and taking antidepressants in her thirties, her body had become jittery, a physical reminder of the trauma stacked high inside her. “I was shaking in [my therapist’s] office,” she tells xoNecole. “My fight or flight was on such a high level. I was constantly in survival mode. My heart was beating fast all the time. All I did was sweat.”
There wasn’t just childhood trauma to account for. After auditioning for American Idol and being turned away by producers, Riley began working for Ikea and nearly missed her Glee audition because her car broke down on the highway while en route. Thankfully, Riley had been cast to play Mercedes Jones. American Idol had temporarily convinced her she wasn’t cut out for the entertainment industry, but this was validation that she was right where she belonged. Glee launched in 2009 with the promise of becoming Riley’s big break.
In some ways, it was. The show introduced Riley to millions of fans and catapulted her into major Hollywood circles. But in other ways, it became a reminder of the types of roles Black women, especially those who are plus-sized, are relegated to. Behind the scenes, Riley says she fought for her character "to have a voice" but eventually realized her efforts were useless. "It finally got to a point where I was like, this is not my moment. I'm not who they're choosing, and this is just going to have to be a job for me for now," she says. "And, that's okay because it pays my bills, I still get to be on television, I'm doing more than any other Black plus-sized women that I'm seeing right now on screen."
The actress can recognize now that she was navigating issues associated with trauma and low self-esteem at the time. She now knows that she's long had anxiety and depression and can recognize the ways in which she was triggered by how the cult-like following of the show conflicted with her individual, isolated experiences behind the scenes. But she was in her early '20s back then. She didn't yet have the language or the tools to process how she was feeling.
Riley says she eventually sought out medical intervention. "When you're in Hollywood, and you go to a doctor, they give you pills," she says, sharing a part of her story that she'd never revealed publicly before now. "[I was] on medication and developing a habit of medicating to numb, not understanding I was developing an addiction to something that's not fixing my problem. If anything, it's making it worse."
“[I was] on medication and developing a habit of medicating to numb, not understanding I was developing an addiction to something that’s not fixing my problem. If anything it’s making it worse.”
Credit: Ally Green
At one point, while in her dressing room on set, she rested her arm on a curling iron without realizing it. It wasn't until her makeup artist alerted her that she even realized her skin was burning. Once she noticed, she says she was "so zonked out on pills" that she barely reacted. Speaking today, she holds up her arm and motions towards a scar that remains from the incident. She sought help for her reliance on the pills, but it would still be years before she finally attended therapy.
This stress was only compounded by the trauma of growing up in poverty and the realities of being a "contract worker." "Imagine going from literally one week having to borrow a car to get to set to the next week being on a private jet to New York City," she says. After Glee ended, so did the rides on private planes. The fury of opportunities she expected to follow her appearance on the show failed to materialize. She wasn't even 30 yet, and she was already forced to consider if she'd hit her career peak.
. . .
We’re only four minutes into our Zoom call before Riley delivers her new adage to me. “My new mantra is ‘humility does not serve me.’ Humility does not serve Black women. The world works so hard to humble us anyway,” she says.
On this Thursday afternoon in April, the LA-based entertainer is seated inside her closet/dressing room wearing a cerulean blue tank top with matching shorts and eating hot wings. This current phase of healing hinges on balance. It’s about having discipline and consistency, but not at the risk of inflexibility. She was planning to head to the gym, for instance, but she’s still tired from the “exhausting” day before. Instead, she’s spent her day receiving a massage, eating some chicken wings, and planning to spend quality time with friends. “I’m not going to beat myself up for it. I’m not going to talk down to myself. I’m going to eat my chicken wings, and then tomorrow I’m [back] in the gym,” she says.
“My new mantra is ‘humility does not serve me.’ Humility does not serve Black women. The world works so hard to humble us anyway."
This is the balance with which she's been approaching much of her life these days. It's why she's worried less about whether or not people see her as someone who is humble. She'd rather be respected. "I think you should be a person that's easy to work with, but in the moments where I have to ruffle feathers and make waves, I'm not shying away from that anymore. You can do it in love, you don't have to be nasty about it, but I had to finally be comfortable with the fact that setting boundaries around my life – in whatever aspect, whether that's personal or business – people are not going to like it. Some people are not going to have nice things to say about you, and you gotta be okay with it," she says.
When Amber talks about the constant humbling of Black women in Hollywood, I think of the entertainers before her who have suffered from this. The brilliant, consistent, overqualified Black women who have spoken of having to fight for opportunities and fair pay. Aretha Franklin. Viola Davis. Tracee Ellis Ross. There's a long list of stars whose success hasn't mirrored their experiences behind the scenes.
Credit: Ally Green
If Black women outside of Hollywood are struggling to decrease the pay gap, so, too, are their wealthier, more famous peers.
Riley says there’s been progress in recent years, but only in small ways and for a limited group of people. “This business is exhausting. The goalpost is constantly moving, and sometimes it’s unfair,” she says. But, I have to say it’s the love that keeps you going.”
“There’s no way you can continue to be in this business and not love it, especially being a plus-sized Black woman,” she continues. “We’re still niche. We’re still not main characters.”
"There’s no way you can continue to be in this business and not love it, especially being a plus-sized Black woman. We’re still niche. We’re still not main characters.”
Last year, Riley starred alongside Raven Goodwin in the Lifetime thriller Single Black Female (a modern, diversified take on 1992’s Single White Female). It was more than a leading role for the actress, it also served as proof that someone who looks like her can front a successful project without it hinging on her identity. It showcased that the characters she portrays don’t “have to be about being a big girl. It can just be a regular story.”
Riley sees her work in music as an extension of her efforts to push past the rigid stereotypes in entertainment. Take her appearance on The Masked Singer, for instance. Riley said she decided to perform Mayer’s “Gravity” after being told she couldn’t sing it years earlier. “I wanted to do ‘Gravity’ on Glee. [I] was told no, because that’s not a song that Mercedes would do,” she says. “That was a full circle moment for me, doing that on that show and to hear what it is they had to say.”
As Scherzinger praised the “anointed” performance, a masked Riley began to cry, her chest heaving as she stood on stage, her eyes shielded from view. “You have to understand, I have really big names – casting directors, producers, show creators – that constantly tell me ‘I’m such a big fan. Your talent is unmatched.’ Hire me, then,” she says, reflecting on the moment.
Recently, she’s been in the studio working on original music, the follow-up to her independently-released debut EP, 2020’s Riley. The sequel to songs such as the anthemic “Big Girl Energy” and the reflective ballad “A Moment” on Riley, this new project hones in on the singer’s R&B roots with sensual grooves such as the tentatively titled “All Night.” “You said I wasn’t shit, turns out that I’m the shit. Then you called me a bitch, turns out that I’m that bitch. You said no one would want me, well you should call your homies,” she sings on the tentatively titled “Lately,” a cut about reflecting on a past relationship. From the forthcoming project, xoNecole received five potential tracks. Fans likely already know the strengths and contours of Riley’s vocals, but these new songs are her strongest, most confident offerings as an artist.
“I am so much more comfortable as a writer, and I know who I am as an artist now. I’m evolving as a human being, in general, so I’m way more vulnerable in my music. I’m way more willing to talk about whatever is on my mind. I don’t stop myself from saying what it is I want to say,” she says.
Credit: Ally Green
“Every era and alliteration of Amber, the baseline is ‘Big Girl Energy.’ That’s the name of her company,” her manager Brooks says, referencing the imprint through which Riley releases her music after getting out of a label deal several years ago. “It’s just what she stands for. She’s not just talking about size, it’s in all things. Whether it’s putting your big girl pants on and having to face a boardroom full of executives or sell yourself in front of a casting agent. It’s her trying to achieve the things she wants to do in life.”
Riley says she has big dreams beyond releasing this new music, too. She’d love to star in a rom-com with Winston Duke. She hasn't starred in a biopic yet, but she’d revel in the opportunity to portray Rosetta Tharpe on screen. She’s determined that her previous setbacks won’t stop her from dreaming big.
“I think one of my superpowers is resilience because, at the end of the day, I’m going to kick, scream, cry, cuss, be mad and disappointed, but I’m going to get up and risk having to deal with it all again. It’s worth it for the happy moments,” she says.
If Riley seems more comfortable and confident professionally, it’s because of the work she’s been doing in her personal life.
She’d previously spoken to xoNecole about becoming engaged to a man she discovered in a post on the site, but she called things off last year. For Valentine’s Day, she revealed her new boyfriend publicly. “I decided to post him on Valentine’s Day, partially because I was in the dog house. I got in trouble with him,” she says, half-joking before turning serious. “The breakup was never going to stop me from finding love. Or at least trying. I don’t owe anybody a happily ever after. People break up. It happens. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was terrible, hunny. I had to get the fuck up out of there. You find happiness, and you enjoy it and work through it.”
Credit: Ally Green
"I don’t owe anybody a happily ever after. People break up. It happens. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was terrible, hunny. I had to get the fuck up out of there. You find happiness and you enjoy it and work through it.”
With her ex, Riley was pretty outspoken about her relationship, even appearing in content for Netflix with him. This time around is different. She’s not hiding her boyfriend of eight months, but she’s more protective of him, especially because he’s a father and isn’t interested in becoming a public figure.
She’s traveling more, too. It’s a deliberate effort on her part to enjoy her money and reject the trauma she’s developed after experiencing poverty in her childhood. “I live in constant fear of being broke. I don’t think you ever don’t remember that trauma or move past that. Now I travel and I’m like, listen, if it goes, it goes. I’m not saying [to] be reckless, but I deserve to enjoy my hard work.”
After everything she’s been through, she certainly deserves to finally let loose a bit. “I have to have a life to live,” she says. “I’ve got to have a life worth fighting for.”
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What Is A 'Monogamy Agreement' And Should You Have One?
As a writer, I've gotta admit that it can get more and more challenging to tackle certain topics. Why? It's because I'm a pretty word-literal person. Yet, like a lot of people who I witness on a daily basis, who constantly move the goalposts in order to suit whatever whim they're on at any given moment, even the dictionary has a way of doing something similar when it comes to various words' definitions.
Take monogamy, for example. When I was growing up, it meant "married to one person for a lifetime." This meant that you couldn't be remarried and technically consider yourself monogamous (because you're not with the first person you said vows to). And you definitely couldn't be living with someone or in a long-term relationship and use the word. No, for you, something like "exclusive" would be more accurate (and that's actually the word that I lean into in those instances even now).
These days, though, the goalpost says that monogamy is "marriage with only one person at a time." So, while people who've had more than one spouse can now use the word, when it comes to what we're about to dive into today (a monogamy agreement), folks who are interested in those would still be far better off going with something like "exclusive" to drive their point home. That's because this topic doesn't really have anything to do with marriage…although it does approach commitment in an interesting kind of way.
Yeah, in a world that is ever finding ways to change marriage, redefine marriage or figure out how close they can get to marriage without actually getting married, monogamy agreements have entered the chat. And because we try to cover as many bases as possible, basically on the "FYI tip," I wanted to take a moment to break down what exactly they are.
Let’s Tackle Traditional Marriage First. For Clarity’s Sake.
I won't lie — even as someone who's been working with married couples for many years now, whenever I happen upon a healthy (first) and happy (second) married couple of more than a decade, I'm halfway in shock. That's because, these days, people seem to treat the sacredness of marriage like they would a dating relationship — they have a big party in the form of a wedding, pledge to God and everyone present that they're not going anywhere (Ecclesiastes 5:1-7) and that their love is patient (I Corinthians 13:4) and then, somewhere down the line, when things get rough, they end it…only to rinse and repeat.
Now when it comes to things like infidelity and abuse, that's not what I'm speaking of here. I'm talking about there are so many people acting like they are married before they actually are (a boyfriend or girlfriend is not a husband or wife) that by the time they do say "I do," they are numbed out to the fact that a marriage is supposed to be several steps up in seriousness and sacredness than a dating dynamic is.
I definitely could go on and on about how there is supposed to be a boatload of integrity behind the vows that are exchanged between two people. However, this article isn't about marriage — it's about monogamy agreements. What I will say about marriage, for now, is it's not just about if you love someone a lot. Ask any pastor, marriage counselor, or even lawyer worth their merit, and they will confirm the fact that marriage is a legal contract — that you are not just vowing sentiments and emotional promises. No, under the law of marriage, there are also certain rights and responsibilities that you are agreeing to as well. That's why people should go into marriage with a very sober and level-headed mind because they're a lot easier to get into than they are to get out of. No doubt about it.
Speaking of legalities, let's touch on marriage licenses for a moment, shall we? Because there is something about them that you actually may not know (that I absolutely think that you should).
So, What’s the Deal with Marriage Licenses and Marriage Certificates?
Although this really could get its own article, let me just say that marriage licenses definitely deserve some level of side-eye in this country. Even though history says that it started out as being a business contract in England, in America, the long short of it is racist politicians used marriage licenses as a way to keep track of interracial couples (you can read more about it here, here, and here). Yep. So, that's part of the reason why even some traditionally married couples are not super fond of marriage licenses — because, basically, the government is "regulating" the relationship on some level.
With that cleared up, just what is the difference between a marriage license and a marriage certificate? Good question. A marriage license is what allows you to get married in your state prior to saying "I do," while a marriage certificate is a document that proves you are married once your wedding ceremony is actually over.
Can you get a marriage certificate without a marriage license? The short answer would be "no," although couples who fall into the category of "common law marriage" sometimes are able to work around this based on what state they live in. For everyone else, getting married without a marriage license is basically a commitment ceremony. That's because, in order to get a marriage license or marriage certificate, your state's county clerk would have to issue you one.
Now, I ain't got no lies to tell you — go to YouTube, and you will see a good amount of videos (like this one here) stating that not only can you work around not getting a marriage license, you absolutely should. To that, I'll just say that one of the biggest problems with social media is everyone is a so-called expert now, even if they have no credentials to back it up. So with that in mind, if this section of the article has you tempted to go down a long rabbit hole (and I totally get it if it does), speak with some people who have actual and literal experience in the field in your state. Don't just go rogue with your own resolve (please don't let YouTube and TikTok hem you up).
Okay, So What Is This Whole Monogamy Agreement Thing About?
So, what does all of that have to do with a monogamy agreement? Well, in order to explain why some people are opting for it as an alternative to a marriage license (or marriage altogether), it was important to explain marriage licenses and certificates just so that you could clearly get what the differences are.
Now that you know, a monogamy agreement is pretty much just how it sounds: it's an agreement that is established between two people who want to have some form of a commitment to one another, yet they don't want all of the legalities that come with traditional marriage.
If you're trying to wrap your head around that, I'll explain it to you this way. You've probably heard someone say that they wish that the marriage contract could be renegotiated every few years. For instance, rather than being "locked into" until death parts us, every five years or so, they wish that they could revisit their marriage to see if they want to opt-out, change certain initial agreements, or restructure the marriage altogether. Well, for folks who are wired this way, a monogamy agreement is probably the best route for them to take because, again, although it's not a legally binding contract, it is a formal agreement between them and their partner about what each of their expectations is.
See it like an integrity agreement — no one is making assumptions about where things stand or where things are headed (hopefully); the monogamy agreement puts things in black and white so that it's all crystal clear.
And when I say "black and white," I literally mean just that. Again, although it's not a legal contract, it is a document that lays everything out so that there is no confusion. And what do I mean by "everything"? It's totally up to you and your partner, yet some of the things that people usually include are goals and values, sexual expectations, financial responsibilities, boundaries (both in and outside of the relationship), how infidelity is defined, ultimate goals for the relationship — and yes, when the agreement is up for renegotiation whether that's in a year, five years or 10.
Who Should Consider a Monogamy Agreement?
Now that you know more about what a monogamy agreement is, let's begin to land this plane with the people a monogamy agreement may be best suited for. While at the end of the day, the short answer is anyone who wants one, there's a specific reason why I decided to even broach this topic.
It's because, while it's not (yet) earth-shattering in either direction, marriage is somewhat on the decline as cohabitation is on the rise in this country. And while research continues to reveal that married couples are more satisfied with their relationship than folks who live together and many who do cohabitate, they see it as a stepping stone towards becoming spouses at some point, let's not act like millennials (and under) aren't a bit gun shy when it comes to saying "I do."
Reportedly, 56 percent of them are not married. For many women, it's because they are prioritizing their education and careers over marriage and a family. Also, some suffer from what is known as gamophobia (the technical term for having a fear of getting married), in part due to a pattern of failed relationships, being the child of divorce (divorce affects children more than a lot of people want to accept) and what getting divorced themselves could possibly cost them. Then there are those who just never wanted to get married…yet that doesn't mean that they don't believe in some form of commitment on some level.
For individuals who don't want to casually date or even just sit at the "boyfriend/girlfriend level" for years on end, monogamy agreements may be a solid fit. You can have your own version of a commitment ceremony (or not), knowing that you're not on one page regarding what your relationship is about while your partner is somewhere totally different. There's no confusion because you literally have documentation about where the two of you are.
Now, I will say this: no agreement works if two people's words are trash (LOL). Yet honestly, that can apply to traditional marriage or a monogamy agreement. I'm just putting you on to what a monogamy agreement is all about if you've been trying to figure out how to have a serious commitment without a legal contract.
No doubt about it, monogamy agreements are gaining some real traction out in these streets.
Something for the committed-yet-not-marriage-minded.
Interesting, right? Relationships always are, chile.
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