I had heard the rumour. I had seen the ring on the left hand. I approached the check-out till at the store and inquired and congratulated Ella (fictitious name).
She was a pretty, tall, slim, gentle-natured young woman. I had had several pleasant conversations with her. Always a smile. First name basis.
I suspected that she had been living with the boyfriend for some time. They seemed to be happy. He had been married and divorced. They appeared to be in no hurry for the ceremony. Young people today will say that they must get many things in order before the wedding - cash, reception hall, availability of wedding party, vacation arrangements, time off from work.
Many others have simply bailed out on the marriage prospect. They will come out with frightening excuses. ("Marriage was a curse and a shackle for my parents...It is what is in the heart that matters, not a pledge given in some strange church..We want to be free and will stay in this thing as long as it suits us... Who needs to promise; we love each other.")
I have a friend who was once in this situation of "shacking up". Much to my surprise an older man whom we both knew told him "that he should make an honest woman out of her". Wow, such nerve I thought. But the comment must have had impact. Shortly thereafter they were married. Two happy, active children followed. The couple are definitely in it for life, trusting and contented.
But getting back to my friend at the store, it appears to me that the boyfriend has gotten most of what he wants already. Little Ella, very little yet of her heart's desire. May the situation be solidified very soon for her sake.
Note: Wikipedia has the following to say:
"Common-law marriage, sometimes called de facto marriage, informal marriage or marriage by habit and repute, is a form of interpersonal status which is legally recognized in some jurisdictions as a marriage even though no legally recognized marriage ceremony is performed or civil marriage contract is entered into or the marriage registered in a civil registry."