The Freedom Advisor

Eloping and follow-through


i was just boyfriend and i are wanting to elope, because of the simple fact that my parents stresses us out.....but heres the thing, im legal and so is he, ....but i just dont know where to go, what to do, anything like that....and i was wondering if u could assist me or give me some interesting advice on what to do, where to go, stuff like that! I never had anything like this cross my mind. I never thought about getting married like this, i always thought that it would be on my mother because she always wanted me to get married. We have an interracial relationship and its hard for people to cope with that, but we dont care, we love eachother very much, and want to be together. We are sure that we want to do this. What do u think the costs would be? How do we go about doing this? What suggestions do u think u could give us?
Thank you,
Crystal and Kerry

Hi Crystal and Kerry,

You say you're both "legal," so you wouldn't need anyone's permission to marry. That also means, presumably, that you're both capable of working. Do either of you have a job? Are either of you in school or training that will help you get good-paying, steady work? If you're going to strike out on your own, you'll need some realistic plan for paying your way. If you haven't already, start looking at the cost of setting up house in your area (or an area you're interested in moving to -- more on that in a bit).

To but it bluntly, love is not enough: you need to pay the bills. Love dies if you die of hunger. You need a plan for paying for your life together first, then you can think about how your love might flourish (or not) under such a plan. We know this isn't very romantic, but you're talking about creating a life together, which involves all those little details that are so boring, as well as the fun parts of being with someone you love.

Things to consider include: housing costs; transportation costs; food costs; the general economic stability of the area; etc. Some states have no state income tax (NH, WY, TX, WA, and FL are a few), and within any state, the local tax rates, from income tax to municipal taxes, can vary significantly. Those costs add up, but are relatively hidden to most people; it's worth checking into them (similarly, fuel taxes add to transportation costs, whether you have a vehicle or use public transportation, and vary enormously).

On the interracial nature of your relationship . . . you don't mention where you're living at present, but we do know that social acceptance of such relationships varies widely across the U.S. Some places are very tolerant, while others seem strongly intolerant still. Don't underestimate the wear social disapproval can cause on a relationship. Can you both develop thicker skins (an excellent idea in any case), or is relocating an option you'd both consider? If you're in a place that is intolerant, is it worth it to you to move to a place that will be more accepting? New York City (although we don't recommend living there), Cleveland, Minnesota, Wisconsin (at least in some areas), and parts of the People's Republic of Kalifornia are all places we know of where interracial relationships are much more accepted. There are positives and negatives to each of them, and we wouldn't recommend moving to CA for lots of reasons, but those reasons are ours and not necessarily important to you.

As far as how to go about eloping, our understanding is that it can be fairly straightforward and inexpensive in situations like yours. You could go to the county courthouse and start the paperwork today (or the next business day), get the blood tests or whatever health tests the busybodies mandate you undergo prior to getting the marriage license, and once that's in hand you can go to the courthouse and get married by a judge. Depending upon where you are and the amount of hoops the local Thought Police have you jump through, you could do this all for around $100. Or, you could do as many do in the movies and real life, and go to Vegas. Since marriage is a big service industry there, you can find places to marry you pretty much 24/7, ranging from extremely cheap to outrageously expensive. It all depends upon what you want and can afford.

Or, you could forego the state's permission to form a more permanent relationship with each other and simply cohabit. That would be much less expensive, and would allow you to use the funds that would go toward the hoop-jumping process to please the Thought Police for setting up house. That's a much wiser use of your money in our opinion. You can still create your own ceremony, make your own vows, invite friends if you wish, and make a formalization of your partnership a day of celebration in any way you want, without the hassles and permissions of religion and state. Some partners formalize their relationship by a written contract. It isn't very romantic perhaps, but it does help emphasize the serious nature of your commitment and offer help should the relationship founder and one or both of you want to end it.

So, in short, since you both are of legal age, you have very few solid barriers to taking this step. Your parents can't stop you, and neither can anyone else as long as there's no cause (one of you is unable to enter into a marriage contract for some reason, such as an existing marriage or mental incompetence). However, that doesn't translate into such a step being something you should take -- and even if you decide you should, it won't be easy. Are you willing to live in a trailer park somewhere if all you can find is work flipping burgers? It might come to that, and it can be hard to keep loving someone if you feel stuck in such a situation. Dreams are nice, but it takes work, and time, to make them real. Can your love last -- maybe even grow -- during that time?

A merging of lives, whether formalized by the state, religion, or simply the two of you is a serious step -- and of course there's the possibility of creating more lives, which is an even greater responsibility in some ways. Love alone is not enough to ensure that the merging will be successful, or will last. You need to communicate openly and honestly, you need to love and trust and respect your prospective partner, and you need to be committed to making the partnership work through challenges and stresses that are unimaginable to you right now. It's always an uncertain endeavor, in large part because people change, sometimes drastically, over time, but if you can go into a partnership with these elements in the relationship, there's a good chance you can make it last.

We wish you all the best.

Send your questions to The Freedom Advisor. Unless requested otherwise, all letters may be published here in Doing Freedom!.

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