*Jamie, Literacy Clinic Coordinator/Grad Student & Max, Software Trainer*
I’m thrilled and honored to get to share Jamie’s Wedding Graduates Return post today. Long time readers will remember Jamie & Max’s queer wedding with squirrel invitations. Today Jamie is back to discuss why they have ambivalence about marriage (given its troubled history) and why their wedding didn’t change everything, but did change small things. She talks about where they’ve been and where they are going.
Max and I have officially been married for one year and twenty-three days. I intended to sit down and write about the year after our wedding on our anniversary, but I didn’t make it. I don’t remember why I didn’t write it that day—maybe it was the dogs or being busy at work or a headache. Sometimes life gets in the way of the best intentions. The first year of our marriage has been like that, busy and imperfect, but also productive. Our life together has grown in mundane ways that come together to be something bigger than the sum of all of the daily tasks we complete (or don’t complete, for that matter).
In my Wedding Graduate post, I mentioned that Max and I were initially ambivalent about marriage. This ambivalence is primarily borne out of distrust for the social institution of marriage and its troubled history. We love our marriage, but we reject the idea that our wedding (or any piece of paper) makes our relationship more important and legitimate than the relationships of our friends who cannot or do not want to get married. To be honest, though, I was also ambivalent about marriage for a less altruistic reason: I didn’t want our relationship to change. There were so many times before and during our engagement when I heard people say, “Marriage changes everything,” but I didn’t want everything about our already solid relationship to change.
A year into marriage, I’m happy to report that everything hasn’t changed. Sure, some things are different. We’ve grown as individuals and as a couple in the ways that only time and experiences can bring. We have a lot of great pictures and memories from a wedding that we loved despite its imperfections. Putting a little time between our wedding day and today has helped me to forget the feelings of being disappointed about certain party planning decisions that I wasn’t happy with one year ago. I cried as I read my original Wedding Graduate post today because I remember how full of love I felt that day. Sometimes people now refer to Max as my husband—a term that makes the queer little hairs on the back of my neck bristle since I prefer gender neutral terms like partner or spouse or beloved or really anything other than husband. We’ve both gone from people who never wear rings to people who always wear them. But the real substance of our relationship hasn’t changed all that much.
Maybe it’s because we went through so many life-altering situations and tough transitions before getting married or because we were pretty self-aware before the wedding that things haven’t changed so much for us, but I’m glad they haven’t. Max still knows when I’m not okay even if I say I am. He still hates that I leave my shoes all over the floor. I still get annoyed when he waits until the very last possible moment to start any task, and I still love that he makes silly jokes to lighten the mood on hard days. We still really like spending time together, and we still really need time apart to do our own things. We still like to learn new things about each other, and we aren’t bored with each other yet.
Our relationship has grown and accommodated changes in our lives over the last year—a new house, new job, a baby on the way in the spring—but it still feels like the same love and the same work and the same piece of our beloved community that we had before getting married. Being married hasn’t really changed the challenges of being in a relationship or diminished the most rewarding parts. For me this is good news, but I can see how this lack of revolutionary change might disappoint some people. We often hear that a wedding is the “most important” day of our lives, and it might be disappointing to not feel transformed after spending so much time and money on this rite of passage. Weddings also do not transform us (or our beloveds) into perfect partners. If you aren’t sure about whether or not your relationship is solid or about whether or not you can live with your partner’s annoying habits before marriage, you’re not likely to feel better after a wedding. Similarly, a wedding is not likely to fix family relationships or friendships. If you have conflict with your partner’s best friend/mother/brother/priest before your wedding, you are going to have to do more than get married to work through those challenges. After all, a wedding is about marking a relationship that already exists than it is about creating one. For us, I am very glad that we spent time and money we did on our wedding, but I am even more grateful for the energy that we and our community have put into building a solid relationship in the days leading up to and after our wedding than for the party itself.