You can't change someone's feelings, you can only try to understand them, respect them, and control your own actions.
A piece of legal paper may not, as you say, change your feelings for either partner. But, at least in most countries, marriage is about a lot more than just the feelings of the two partners involved in it. In a mono-oriented society, there are some definite societal and legal issues come with being married that you simply cannot replicate with the non-married "third," and for some people those things automatically change the relationship. You'll get invited to things with your spouse, you'll get benefits Pink will not get in her relationship with you, she will have minimal rights to share assets and retirement benefits (even in a contract situation, in most states in the US spousal rights trump many things...something to check out), family leave may be harder for her to obtain if something happens to you or one of your family members and vice-versa, she'll never get tax breaks, etc. The list goes on. Some of these things can be worked around, some are just how society is currently structured. But, together, they add up to a hierarchy that can be difficult to bring into equality. It's not impossible, and there are people here who do it, but it's understandable that she's concerned.
And, in reality, some of what you've said here could, I imagine, make Pink uncomfortable about this, and already has some "couple privilege" tones to it. If one of the reasons you're considering marrying Blue is that your families would be thrilled, and you're considering that your families would be unhappy if you married Pink in your decision to marry either partner, that could be a problem for Pink (it certainly would be for me). That fact alone does, at least in my opinion, make it seem like the value of your relationships is based on some external factors that at least give the impression your relationship with Blue is more valuable, in your own eyes, than with Pink. Whether it's the case or not, if you've expressed to her that one of the reasons you want to marry Blue is that your families would be thrilled, it's worth thinking of how she may have taken that to heart (I'll tell you that, for me, a statement that a partner wanted to marry someone else because the family would approve of them and not me would be a deal-breaker for me, but I realize it may not for everyone).
You talk about tax breaks and the like with Blue, which are things that Pink will never be able to (legally) share with you (unless things dramatically change in the US, of course), but that you seem to want with Blue. Again, I can see how this would make her feel as though perhaps things with Blue would be more "primary," and she would slip into "secondary" status, even if that's not what you intend.
The "third option" would be to rethink how you view relationships and marriage. If the ceremony is important but you can live without the legal document, that's definitely an option that would let you "marry" both partners. If keeping your relationship with both partners fair and equitable is a priority, and marrying one is making the other uncomfortable, can you look at other ways to deal with those things you'd otherwise look to marriage to provide? Talk honestly with both about why marriage is important (or unimportant, as the case may be) to all parties involved, and consider ways to have those needs/desires met without a mono legal marriage. Some here have formed LLCs, etc., so there are other options.
If health insurance is the main issue, have you looked into whether your health insurance company allow domestic partners? Could you all contribute to the cost of a health care plan for Blue through the affordable health care act? What if you marry Blue, but someday Pink ends up without insurance through a job? What would you do then?
Originally Posted by PolyinPractice
So, the questions I need answers to are:
- How could I put Pink’s feelings about a potential future marriage to me one day in the future over an immediate need of Blue’s, a need that I am able to and happy to fill?
- How can I reassure Pink that legal marriage to someone else won’t change how I feel about her?
- How can I make her feel like an equal partner if I go sign a binding legal document with someone else?
- How is there any solution to this problem, ever, for anyone with more than one eligible, life-entangled partner? If I want to get married at all, ever, I'd have to choose...
-Is there a third option here that I’m not seeing?
You just do. I don't know how you convince anyone of feelings, except by consistently showing behavior that matches your words. If I married another partner, I would never feel like my other partners were less; nor, would they feel lesser.
Don't know how else to put it....