Thursday, April 02, 2009

What changes

At the wedding, a friend asked me if I thought being married was going to change my life. I can now answer:

My relationship with Jeff doesn't feel different, except that we have more free time now because we're not planning a wedding. What does feel different is our relationship to society at large.

This whole wedding thing has made me feel embarassingly status quo. I always hated the words "boyfriend" and "girlfriend" because they sounded so smug and teenagerish. "Fiancee" is even worse, as it sounds like an irritating woman who keeps waving the rock on her left hand at people. I quite liked "partner", partly because it made other people say things like "Wait, are you marrying a man or a woman?"

As soon as we got engaged, people who really only knew one of us started addressing party invitations and Christmas cards to both of us. Facebook was suddenly full of ads for teeshirts emblazoned "Future Mrs. Smith" and "Mrs. Williams In Training". The other day we got our first package addressed to Mr. and Mrs. Jeffrey Kaufman. (As far as I can tell, I'm not a Mrs. of any kind.)

On the more pleasant side, we can file our taxes jointly - Jeff is doing it right now, although he spent the first half of the evening filling out the 2007 forms by mistake. I'm on his insurance. We were actually registered as domestic partners for this purpose last fall, but it's cheaper if the federal government recognizes your relationship. If we end up applying to the Peace Corps, we can go together. We can travel together in more conservative countries and not have to stay in separate rooms. Heck, we can even stay in my childhood bedroom without my father forbidding it on the grounds of being "too awkward."

In stepping into this pattern, I keep thinking about the people who can't or don't. The tax breaks they don't get, the insurance coverage, the cards sent to both of them, the congratulations, the soup pots and spatulas.

The most important part is still the part I was worried about the October night I sat Jeff down under a tree and told him I wanted to marry him. I had tried looking at my life without him in it, and I didn't like how it looked. I wanted him to know I was in it for good, and I wanted to know if the same was true of him. I wanted us to be able to plan where we were going to live, how we were going to live, knowing we could each count on the other being there.

Will you forgive me for closing with a little sentiment?

If truth be told,
It was not priest, who made us one,
Nor finger
circled with gold,
Nor soft delights when day is done
and arms enfold.
These bonds are firm,
but in death-storm
They may not hold-
We were welded man and wife
By hammer-strokes of daily life.

Ellen Sophia Bosanquet, 1938

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