Susan Deitz

DEAR SUSAN: Your rebuttal to my comment about cities being better places for meeting is reasonable. But a lot of people head to the city for reasons other than settling down. To me, "settling down" means more than dating monogamously -- it's building a life together, making decisions as a couple, having children. Many city people are focused on career or education or just having fun. I was a city person for more than a decade, then moved to the suburbs. Lately, I've been pondering a real difference between city and suburban lifestyles as far as settling down goes.

From the Single File blog

DEAR BLOGGER: Agreed. The odds of finding what and who you want are probably higher in a city than they are in suburbia. Does that mean a suburban setting is more conducive to love/commitment? Let's ask the readers to answer it. Then let's compare the findings with your musings when a good number of returns come in.

You may be on the brink of another important issue, the definition of "settling down." To me, it has an unsettling tinge of oldish thinking -- settling back in an easy chair and semiretiring from the interesting parts of life. You have a great definition, having to do with togetherness and active living. As you envision "settling down," who wouldn't want it?

DEAR SUSAN: The advantages of being married are overwhelming. Most important are the legalities. Children -- their visitation, custody and medical decisions -- should be foremost. Then there are other issues -- property, bank accounts, paychecks. But nothing gives me greater happiness than saying, "I'd like you to meet my wife." That magic word conjures up images unimaginable with any other term, especially "significant other." From the Single File blog

DEAR BLOGGER: My mother and I have this duel on a regular basis. Moi: More and more often these days, when two people make a long-term commitment, they decide not to marry. And there seem to be fewer reasons to get married. They can have a family life, have children and live as a family, all without a marriage license. They can have it all and still keep their single status. All current research confirms this.

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Mom's comeback: If two people are prepared to weather the storm together, to assume parental responsibilities and risk occasional boredom, why not go all the way and get married?

Now, I pass the ball to you. If all those other conditions are in place -- and they are for many couples living as committed mates enjoying family life, only not as signatories on a marriage license -- what are the reasons for not marrying?