Having recently gotten married, I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be a wife. Part of the conversation comes from my daily enlightening reading over at a practical wedding*** A portion has been mixed in from reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s latest novel “Committed” (which has so many ear marked pages to share with my husband that I practically read him the whole darn thing). As a newlywed, I am also currently reading “The Commitment”, by Dan Savage. And a sprinkling of this conversation comes directly from discussions with my girlfriends about whether I feel “different” now that I am married.
I guess I am also trying to justify the difference in my own head, having just spent way too much on a great non-traditional party after an elopement. Why didn’t I just do it the regular way? Why did I still feel the need to gather all my people in the same expensive room post wedding? (new posts “a very short engagement” and “wedding graduate” will be available oh so soon). Why didn’t we take a trip around the world instead?!?
The main difference for me in our relationship, in our life together, in marriage, is that Mark is my family now. He is my next of kin and my beneficiary. In the eyes of all of our family and friends, we are together and counted as a definite pair. And we had a big kick ass party to seal the deal! We have created our own secure unit of 2. A place in the world that is sacred and safe and full of love and trust. Our family of 2 makes its own rules and sets its own values. It has its own hobbies together and still allows for the autonomy of the individual with alone time and independent interests (unfortunately, Mark’s only independent interests these days revolve around grad school).
Our “family unit” has always made communication a top priority, long before we even knew we would be a family. We talk about everything and then some. When we disagree, we talk even more to better understand where the other person is coming from. We learn how to compromise and not purposely push each others buttons. Our relationship isn’t perfect, but we do everything we can to keep it as close to sublime as humanly possible. Communication is the key. If one of us is unhappy about something, then we are both aware of it and working towards changing it. The negative subsides and the “happy” takes over, if for nothing else than for the satisfaction of knowing we can deal with whatever comes our way if we just talk about it.
Meg at a practical wedding asked some thought-provoking questions after her recent multi-state Book Club meeting:
What kind of marriage do you believe in?
Personally, I believe in a marriage that is honest, trusting, understanding, compromising, supportive, and that fosters a safe environment to pursue our dreams or retreat from the world into. I believe in a marriage where two people come together and make a commitment to one another that they both agree upon. In the fine print, it also means that we are legally and financially responsible for one another.
What difference does it make what you believe?
The difference my belief makes is the comfort of knowing that we are both operating from the same definition. We can choose to expand and grow that definition with intelligent discussion. We can set stable, definite benchmarks that we know we can rely upon. There is a faith in giving your heart so completely to another person. It helps that we are guided by the same boundaries. To each their own, but this is what we’ve decided for our relationship.
Marriage to me seals that commitment and makes it “permanent” in the eyes of our community. Although we all know divorce is possible, marriage is still a larger statement than just saying we love one another, which is why I truly believe that right should be made available everyone (hello my LBGTQ friends!). We should all have the ability to state in an easily recognized manner (ie: marriage) that we are declaring a certain level of commitment.
So ya, I guess I had a lot to say to start the marriage conversation. Oh don’t worry, there is so much more to come! I’m only half way through The Commitment and have yet to be part of the Committed book club discussion (coming soon to a coffee-house near you). I didn’t even touch on gender roles, children, tradition, my engagement, my elopement, or my celebration. Just wait for the wifey to start pouring out of me! I think someone just pulled my string…
***Meg over at a practical wedding has created an incredible, supportive, and *ah-hem* practical community of women in all stages of adult life, from “pre-engagement” to “wedding graduate” to “reclaiming wife”. Wedding planning is certainly discussed but more importantly, relationships, emotions, values and life decisions regarding children, money, home ownership, etc are really examined from all angles. There is no right or wrong and the community embraces everyone with an honest opinion. Many a beautiful thought-provoking discussion takes place in the safety of Meg’s comment boards. Hands down my favorite, most welcoming blog ever.