A is a 28-year-old writer from Texas.
Why are you choosing to get married?
A mix of reasons, both personal and practical: because it feels like the right thing to do to solidify my relationship with P in the eyes of our community. Because I’ll pay more reasonable taxes as a married person. Because I’ll get to join his health insurance plan. But also because it is both a deeply patriarchal “thing people just do” and a remarkable opportunity to demonstrate to a lot of people all at once that patriarchal institutions don’t necessarily have to be that way in execution or practice. I like trying to solve the question: how do you make something deeply problematic into something beautiful that’s based in mutual respect and equality? How do you “further the conversation,” as it were, with regard to marriage and weddings? For me, the answer is not to toss out the tradition but to change and morph it into something more welcoming for all people, if that’s what they want. I get to live the “personal is political” thing for one very important day when it’s going to be hard for people to ignore what I’m saying.
If I hadn’t known feminist married friends and read a lot of feminist writers talking about their own struggles with marriage, I might have felt kind of powerless in the face of an institution that seemed oppressive and offensive. As it is, I feel like it’s neat to have the opportunity to be part of a vanguard of people saying, you know what? Fuck that old kind of marriage, we are doing a new thing and guess what, it’s still an amazing and righteous commitment.
Is there anything so far about being engaged/wedding planning that you find remarkable or surprising?
I am surprised at how much I hate wedding planning. I really love to plan parties and I don’t mind being the center of attention (super understatement), but honestly, planning a big emotional to-do with a mix of friends, family and total strangers who have certain cultural expectations for me and P is incredibly stressful and I don’t take much pleasure in it at all. I’d much rather elope and send folks a postcard from Vegas. Which is why my future husband has pretty much taken over the entirety of planning. That seems to surprise other people (as we know from all sit-coms, Super Bowl commercials and Maxim, all men hate marriage and weddings and only put up with this bullshit so they can get sex forever), but not me. To me, P’s willingness to step up and plan this giant party is one of the reasons I’m so happy to be marrying him. He carries me where I stumble, and I try to do the same for him.
How do you feel about the word “wife”?
I’m surprised to say that I have no opinion about the word wife. I cannot imagine it applying to me, but I guess it will, won’t it? Huh.
What do you expect marriage to be like? Are you expecting your relationship with your partner to change?
I hope that my relationship with P does not change significantly after we’re married. I can’t imagine that things will be markedly different just because we threw a party and went to Hawaii. My married friends often tell me that they don’t feel much different post-wedding, and that is fine by me. What I want is to have a forever activities partner to travel through life with, whether that’s the lame nights on the couch watching Futurama, drunk nights stumbling home from the bar or long Sunday afternoons eating every single sample on offer at Central Market. I want to grow old with P doing what I’m doing now: laughing at the dumb shit we do, making fun of our crazy cats, lending each other emotional and physical strength, etc. That seems like the best thing I can think of.
What decision are you making about your name? Why?
I’m not changing my name, and neither is P. Haha, funny joke! No one expects P to, just me. It really makes me sad when women change their names these days. The tradition is based in coverture, which is a truly disgusting practice, and completely outdated besides. I don’t intend to have them, but kids-wise, I don’t see any reason to favor a patriarchal line over a matriarchal one, and in a world of blended families, who is really crapping their pants over a kid with its mom’s last name instead of its dad’s, or a hyphenated name, or a totally new one? Sure, some men hyphenate or change their names, but it’s the vast, vast minority–women are totally expected to do this, no questions asked, and it just grosses me out. I can think of many feminist ways to get married or be a stay-at-home mom or participate in sex work, for example, but I just can’t really think of a feminist way to change your name to a man’s when the origin of the tradition is wholly about taking rights away from women and the modern execution of the practice (in heterosexual relationships) serves to privilege a man as the most important, defining member of a family. Especially when the current practice is not even close to being gender equal! Agh! It simply doesn’t work for me. I’d rather stick with the patriarchally based name I was born with, which takes absolutely no effort. I was born on the patriarchy train, but I don’t have to keep it running on the same tracks.
What do you see the role of a wedding to be?
For me, a wedding is like when you think you hear a door slam or a cat meow, but you’re not sure and maybe you’re a little nuts? It’s a way for me to say to my friends and family, about my relationship: “Did you guys just hear that?”