Well, strangely enough I've been doing some thinking about the subject recently, and even tentatively sort of maybe discussing it (though most of the time the discussion is about marriage in the abstract, but it has occasionally merged into the particular). For this reason I'm a bit reluctant to publish a manifesto of My Views on Marriage, but what the heck.
1. Would you like to get married?
Essentially, no. Though I can just about imagine possible circumstances in which the prospect might become appealing, assuming the person I was marrying was absolutely the most wonderful and compatible with me person I could possibly imagine.
2. If so, is it something that you see as vital to your future?
Absolutely not; what I regard as vital to my future is indepedence and close friendships. I see marriage as almost certainly compromising the former and quite possibly impacting negatively on the latter as well, which is largely why I don't want it.
I've thought occasionally that I might quite like to get married after I retire; at that point I wouldn't feel I was compromising on my career ambitions and so on. I have a few friends who've married at that age, often to people who already have grown-up children from a previous relationship. That seems quite appealing to me; I'd quite like to be a grandmother without going through motherhood first! And I'm a little scared of a lonely old age, I suppose. But that's just a pipe-dream, I would hardly call it vital to my future. And it's not exactly like I go about planning my retirement in great detail!
3. If not, is it something that you would consider if you fell in love with someone who did want to get married?
I would consider it (and indeed I have); I don't want to be completely closed-minded about such things. Simply falling in love with someone would not be enough to change my mind, though. I would only want to get married if my suitor (!) wanted a lifestyle that would be pretty much compatible with mine, most particularly sharing my views about children. I definitely don't want children; I certainly couldn't marry someone who did, and I also wouldn't want to marry someone who vaguely thought they might like children, but felt it was something they'd be prepared to give up in order to be with me. (This isn't purely hypothetical, by the way.)
Also I don't think that 'falling in love' is what matters. If I were thinking about a potential spouse (or life-partner of any title) it would have to be a close friend I thoroughly liked and respected and felt I could live with long-term. I wouldn't gamble my future on love alone, because I can't feel confident that love would last decades, there would have to be something more profound than that between us.
Yes, I am picky; given I basically don't want to get married, I can afford to be. I want to be single, and the only reason I'm going to compromise on that is if someone so amazingly wonderful comes along that it's worth reassessing my goals for the sake of being with that person.
4. Either way, how do you picture your future? In terms of day to day stuff, lifestyle, etc
I'm really hoping that my lifestyle will always be pretty much the way it is now. I hope that doesn't make me sound too conservative. I have a job I love, and enough money to do what I want to do without having to worry, and a really wonderful circle of friends. I spend a lot of weekends visiting people up and down the country. I'm heavily involved in community stuff, both Jewish and Interfaith. And I live on my own without any other person getting under my feet, which I would hate to give up now that I've experienced it! I have a really lovely boyfriend, who is comfortably 500 miles away, so I feel I have most of the advantages of a relationship without any of the nuisances.
This isn't entirely realistic, mainly for financial reasons. It's unlikely that in real terms I'll ever be as rich as I now am, and thus I probably won't be able to afford to live on my own. Also, one can't be a PhD student forever; as I advance through the system I'm pretty likely to end up with more responsibility etc. I hope I will enjoy the responsibility as well, but I won't be in quite the same situation of just being able to do stuff I enjoy all day. But I'd like to keep as much of this lifestyle as I can, because I really am very happy now.
5. How connected are children to marriage? I.e. do you want children but not marriage or vice versa?
Children are connected to marriage in that I don't want either... Um, I passionately and absolutely don't want children, but I am not quite that adamantly against marriage.
6. What is the difference, do you think, between a cohabiting relationship and marriage?
Not much, in principle. When I say I don't want to get married, I don't mean that I want to have a relationship exactly like a marriage, only not go through a wedding ceremony. I mean that I don't want to share my life intimately and exclusively with another person.
I think I have certain expectations of a married couple, and I possibly wouldn't be quite so quick to make the same set of assumptions about a cohabiting couple. But there are a subset of cohabiting relationships that I personally regard exactly as marriages; for example, the partners involved would be completely off-limits to me. This would still apply to a couple that wasn't legally able to marry (eg same sex, more than one partner, etc).