J and me will have been together ten years in April. I’m 32 and he’s 30 in less than two months. We’re at that age where everyone around us seems to be getting engaged and married. My social media feeds regularly light up with photos of rings, bridesmaids and happy couples tying the knot. And yes, we always get the question, “So when are you guys getting married?”
For me, it’s a constant back and forth argument with myself. Part of me wants to get married, to have that big day, essentially a big party with my closest family and friends all there to celebrate J and me and what we’ve accomplished and what we’ve yet to achieve. I do want that. I want it very badly. I see people getting engaged and then married who haven’t been together half as long as we have or who I know aren’t as close a couple as we are and it burns me.
Which is fucking ridiculous. Why do I care so much? Why do I want something so superficial so badly? I mean, what is marriage really? It’s the state’s recognition of our union. What changes or what would change for us? Absolutely nothing. We already live together, own a house together, have two dogs together. He’s already my common law/de facto spouse (I want half, Eddie!). It would literally only be a piece of paper and a pair of rings and yet I want it. I understand why same sex couples want it because it’s their right and the government is denying them. But, I’m not fighting for any kind of equality here, it’s just traditionalism plain and simple. It’s an ancient ritual of servitude and ownership and, dammit, I want in!
But can you still believe in marriage when you identify as poly? I don’t know. I’ve talked it back and forth with J a million times. If we’d gotten married before we decided to be poly that would be OK. Yet, we’re poly now (at least in theory). If we want a girlfriend, is us getting married something that would exclude her? Are we privileging our relationship over our relationship with her? Are we buying into the whole hetero-normative, religion-based stance that prioritises married couples? Are we validating the monogamous values we’re trying to reject? Whoa. Heavy thoughts for a Friday afternoon. Chill out the fuck out, Nat.
My brain says yes to all of these questions but how do I feel about it? Honestly? I can see that I don’t need marriage to tell me and those around me that my relationship with J has value and is successful. I already know this. But I want to get married because… well, because sometimes I’m a girl and I want to throw a party and wear pretty dress and, as much as I hate to admit it, I want to be a bride. I want to say I do in front of a roomful of my nearest and dearest. I want to make that commitment, a commitment that will mean nothing in the grand scheme of things… but would mean something inexplicable and visceral to me.
I can’t explain it. Why I would want such an extravagant and expensive pantomime of our love? And it’s because I can’t explain it that I’m chalking it up to brainwashing. Try as I might, that piece of the conditioning stuck and is now making itself know. “You need a flowing white gown and a bouquet of flowers to be a real woman,” it says. And damn it all to hell if I don’t believe it.
Image credit: The Huffington Post