So here’s the thing, I 100% did not expect my relationship to change with marriage. I’m bisexual, and when I was in high school and college same sex marriage wasn’t legal where I live, so I’d fully prepared myself for the reality that I could have fallen in love and decided to give my life to someone that I couldn’t marry. I’d pushed marriage down in my mind to be less important, because I thought it was something I might not ever have.
As it turned out, I fell in love with Mr. M, but I’d still kept marriage somewhere in this place of “nice for the legal benefits but not necessary for a commitment.” Mr. M and I lived together for several years, and were both very clear that we were planning on spending our lives together, even before we got married. We started talking about marriage for a few different reasons though. One, in the event of an emergency, we wanted to have rights regarding one another. Two, with him going military there’s certain benefits that girlfriends just don’t get, like being able to move to his station, live on base with him, and more. Then, I also just wanted to get married.
I wanted to tell people he was my husband, not to explain that we weren’t married but were in a monogamous and committed relationship. I wanted our parents, our friends, and everyone else to understand our commitment. I wanted to be able to describe our relationship in a single word that wouldn’t just lead to questions, confusion, and catty comments about ‘you’ve been together how long and still aren’t married? Why?’
My perspective on marriage is complicated. See, I was raised in a Christian household, to believe that marriage is sacred, permanent, and unbreakable. But during my teen years, my parents divorced, my dad left the Kingdom Hall, and I came out as bisexual. Marriage shifted in my mind from a sacred and holy institute to a civil and political union based on religious tradition, which yields secular benefits. And, see, both are right.
You get tax breaks, a legal right to see each other in the hospital, the ability to add the other person to your health care and life insurance, ect… Those are all things you get with the secular and legal institute of marriage. Marriage also has a rich history of commitment and joining two people together beyond the physical, from a variety of different religions, cultures, and practices around the world. To deny either side of the coin is just factually incorrect.
Now, marriage may not mean the same thing to everyone, sure. We all go into it with different expectations, standards, beliefs, and understandings. I thought that I was going into marriage from a place of secular understanding, and intellectually, I was. Emotionally though, I wasn’t, and I wasn’t prepared for what that meant for me.
I don’t know if I even have the words to clearly explain it all, but the reality I wasn’t expecting from my marriage is that my relationship has changed, and that’s a good thing. Mr. M and I have always worked to have a good relationship, but there were unspoken boundaries we’d set up that we didn’t even realize were there, until after we said our vows and unwittingly stepped over those imaginary lines in the sand.
We’ve always been accused of being that couple, who’s always giving people cavities just for being in the same room. But after getting married, it’s shifted from just this thing we aren’t even aware we’re doing, to us actively being sweet with each other as much as we reasonable can. It’s not fake, and it’s not to try and gloat, it’s just that both of us don’t have a reason not to make each other as happy as possible at any given moment. Before, it felt almost inappropriate to just blatantly and constantly try to make each other happier, like we were expected to care for ourselves first and having a relationship was just an after thought. But being married, it feels like it’s okay and right to put our marriage, our relationship, and each other first, because it’s no longer “I” and “me”, but “us.” And honestly, that’s part of how you get the kind of marriage you deserve.
We also stopped acting like we don’t belong to one another. Yes, I said belong to. I know a lot of people get squeamish over the idea of someone belonging to another person in a relationship, but honestly… Trusting someone with all of you, and trusting them not to abuse or forsake that, is such a powerful act of love. It’s not that Mr. M has any more authority over me then he did four months ago, it’s not some kink thing either. It’s that, for better or worse, he has my heart, all of it. I do what I can to make him happy, because I just want to see him smile. And he does the same for me because I have his heart.
We don’t hold any of ourselves back from each other. We don’t try to hide the ugly parts, and we don’t try to protect the soft parts. It’s terrifying. And it hurts sometimes, because people make mistakes, because time and distance poke at tender spots, and because sometimes we just aren’t gentle enough. But it’s also one of the most intimate gestures you can do, letting someone see the parts of you they might accidentally hurt, and trusting them with that.
I fully believed I was one of those people that didn’t need to get married to have all that. I thought I already did have it. So, feeling so differently about my relationship because of a 10 minute ceremony in a courthouse and a piece of paper has been a shock to me. We didn’t even get to do the wedding we wanted and had been planning. We had a civil ceremony. No faith, no house of worship, no deities or religions. A state secretary, 12 of our closest friends and family, and “by the power appointed to me by the state of Nevada.” Despite my view of marriage as a legal establishment, my civil ceremony, and my own protests (though to be honest, over what, I’m not even sure, because it’s not like I’m an un-religious person), I feel a profound and sacred difference in my relationship, that I can’t put into words.
I tried to talk to Mr. M about it, and he just said, “of course things are different. You’re my wife now. That should count for something.” And I’ve never been so brutally offended at the simplicity of an answer before, but he’s right. It does mean something, even if I’m not quiet sure what that is or how to vocalize it yet.