K is 25 and living abroad. She’s been married for 6 months.
Why did you decide to get married?
We had been together a long time (5 years) and lived together for almost two years when we decided to get married. Because we are from different countries we felt we had to make the decision if we were in this relationship for the long haul and if we were both going to end up living in one place. We had that conversation and then decided together that we wanted to get married. Many have people have said that it’s so unromantic that we got engaged through a conversation but for me it is the most romantic way possible. We both made a mutual decision about our futures and our future together with lots of respect for each other. And isn’t that what a good relationship is all about? And why marriage? For me, it was a statement of showing the permanence of our relationship and saying to each other “I’m here now. Whatever happens.” That is a very powerful and beautiful thing.
We also spent most of our time planning for the wedding thinking about our relationship and what we wanted it to be and what our goals were for our to be family. Our ceremony had a lot of who we are in it and what are values are. I think that is why everyone loved it so much. Because we focused on the real part of the wedding-the marriage and what we wanted it to be.
What did you think marriage would like?
Hard. Beautiful. Comforting. And like our relationship before it’s been all of those things.
Where do you think you got your ideas/concept/narrative about marriage?
From my parents. They have been happily married for 36 years. They also lived together before they got married and also got engaged through a conversation. I think they showed me that marriage is hard, that everyone fights but that having a significant other who loves you and is always supportive of you is a wonderful thing. I originally took my relationship ideas also from movies but realized very fast that they were unrealistic and stupid. The wisest things I learned about relationships I learned from my mom. One, is that one person should not be your world. She taught my brother and me that it is important to not expect your significant other to fill a void and be everything you need. Friends are incredibly important and help you have a better relationship with your significant other. The second lesson I learned when I was speaking to her about how she knew my dad was “the one”. She told me that you never know. That every relationship is a leap of faith. That everyday of a marriage is choosing to be with the other person and love them. That has been very powerful and important for me in my relationship.
What are your feelings on the word “wife”?
I don’t love it. We prefer to call each other spouse, bat zug which means partner in Hebrew, or “very significant other.” Husband and wife have a lot of stereotypes that can come with them. We do call each other husband and wife occasionally mostly because its a hard switch to make. However we never call each other husband and wife in Hebrew. Only ben or bat zug. That somehow has felt less forced and easier to do.
Why did you make the decision you made about your name?
For now we are both keeping our own names. We are both big feminists and neither of us ever thought of me just taking his name. I have been a G for some many years it felt weird to suddenly say I wouldn’t be. For logistical reasons we have not hyphenated yet but are thinking of doing a hyphenation of his name-my name. For now we are going by “the GGs” with our friends and family. Even if we both keep our names I really love the nickname GGs and hope it sticks.
Do you think your relationship with your partner has changed since you got married?
Mostly it has stayed the same. The main difference is that now I feel like we are really family in a different way. For example I have been incredibly home sick every Rosh Hashana I’ve been in Israel. This year I wasn’t because I genuinely felt I have family here-both M and his family. And that is a big step because my relationship with M’s family has had some rough patches. It was so wonderful this holiday to feel like we are really family now.
What have you learned about yourself since you’ve been married?
That I can be too judgmental and need to set a lower bar for myself and others. That it’s important what battles to choose and what things to let go of. It’s important to be thankful for small things. I’ve also been pleasantly surprised of how much I’ve enjoyed having new family, him and all his siblings, parents and cousins.