D works in business.
Why did you decide to get married?
It was a long time ago…gotta think about that one. We met senior year of high school and fell in love fairly immediately. He’s my best friend, and we’ve always been very committed, but I knew it would ‘feel right’ or feel better if we were married. We waited seven years, though. My family is Catholic so it would ease tensions there. Plus, we would be able to share health care, make medical decisions for each other, etc. And, eventually, we knew we wanted to have a kid, or kids, and it might be easier for my husband to do things for the child if he was married to me. Kids were so much a part of our planning that we even combined our last names into a new last name that would be less than 13 characters — so it would fit on the SATs. Yes, we’re nuts.
What did you think marriage would be like?
On a daily basis, I expected it to be pretty much the same as living together, which it was. On a social basis, it made things much less awkward around my family, and settled any questions on my husband’s side of the family too. Although, the name change for my husband didn’t go over so well with the more traditional types on both sides… Eep!
Where do you think you got your ideas/concept/narrative about marriage?
A lot from our families…I’m sure a bit from media.
How do you feel about the word “wife”?
Positive. Of course, I tend to think “Orc Wife”. They were some pretty tough characters to beat in a live roleplaying game I used to play in. Oh..did I mention the nerdiness?
Why did you make the decision you made about your name?
My husband and I are both feminists, and didn’t think it would be fair for me to lose my name, or for him to lose his. So, we both lost our names and combined our root name-bases into a new name. 100% American, baby! It was surprisingly easy to do. We had to petition the court, pay $100, and now – voila – my husband and I both have a “maiden name”. The two of us and our child are the only people in the world with our last name, so it was easy to get our own domain for our email addresses, too. (Yes…nerds…)
Do you think your relationship with your partner has changed since you got married?
Sure! We’ve learned to “play zones” – I do things I’m good at (which are not traditional ‘wifey-poo’ things…I do the finances, cars, and the computers), and he does things he’s good at (like cooking, dishes, laundry and helping with homework). We’ve been through some big ups and downs, and it’s made me more accepting and realistic about who he is and isn’t, and I think the same’s true of him. We’ve each given up dreams or had to reduce our expectations for careers and education, partially just because of the realities of life, but partially because we’ve stuck by each other “in sickness and in health”. We’ve both had health issues that seriously impacted us at various times and derailed our careers and college. If you’d asked both of us where we thought we’d be at this age, we wouldn’t have described where we are now. But at the same time, we’ve been able to have a life both of us love and neither of us could have imagined. We still have some issues – midlife crisis looms large for both of us. We still don’t know what we really want to do when we grow up, and I still don’t have a pony, but he’s my best friend and we’ll figure it out.
What have you learned about yourself since you’ve been married?
I have been incredibly fortunate. Stupid lucky, really. I almost feel like this part of my life is payment for all the crud I went through earlier in my life. I’ve learned I have to be strong and be a leader for my family – I have to be willing to suffer with them and for them, to put myself second or third, but not all the time. I’ve also learned that although this being-married thing takes some effort, a lot of it seems to be instinctive. And, I’ve learned that a lot of the crazy ‘rules’ I learned from my family and my life before I met him don’t apply to my life with him or the rest of the world. It was faulty programming. We’ve both learned how to talk to each other without triggering each others’ defenses. When we’re tired, we still screw up and squabble – but we have always made up quickly and then created a plan for a solution to whatever problem triggered the fight in the first place. I’ve learned that nothing is the end of the world, the end of the relationship.