B is 37 and lives in Pittsburgh.
Why did you decide to get married?
Once I came to the decision, I was very comfortable making a long term, permanent commitment to my husband. We genuinely enjoyed being with one another, we had good sex, we shared some important values, we mutually desired a lot of freedom to pursue our own interests, and we were able to have productive conflicts with one another that led to greater intimacy. All of those were my main requirements for a partner.
I chose to legally marry him because he was a little more traditional than I was, and I knew that getting married meant a lot to him. Even if we had not gotten legally married, I personally believe in the transformative power of ritual. I wanted to create some kind of ceremony to actualize a union, marking that we were taking on a commitment and making some kind of formal agreements and social statement about the nature of our relationship. I believe we were able to craft a wedding ceremony that was very meaningful and powerful in that sense, and we were really happy with it. From the legal side of it, I wanted the next of kin and financial stuff to be there, too.
Interestingly, in the 9 years since we have gotten together, my husband has radically changed his political views and now believes that the state should have no bearing on our relationship, and would not get legally married again. Ha! It’s so funny how things change.
I thought it would be a (hopefully) lifelong continuation and deepening of our relationship. That’s pretty much what it has been. We have continued to get to know one another, to develop trust, to learn how to be supportive to one another, and to be able to communicate about our difficult feelings and value conflicts in ways that really honor our differences. There have been times when we have had some unpleasant distances between us, but I think we’ve both come to trust that we will eventually find a way to reconnect and sort it out when things are weird and unpleasant between us.
I have been trying to get married since I was about 12. And by that, I don’t mean wearing a pretty princess dress and being a bride. I mean finding a man to be partnered with as a team, a kind of sexual partner in crime. I have always really gotten along with men/boys, and I very much enjoy being in intimate relationships with men. I grew up relocating frequently and I am an only child. I think one of the reasons that I have always been so interested in being partnered is that I spent almost all of my life being extremely lonely. It’s really difficult to lose one’s entire set of relationships (except one’s parents) every few years. It’s deeply nourishing to be able to count on having this other person there who enjoys me and who wants to help me develop myself to my utmost. It gives me great strength to be part of this kind of union. My husband does not complete me, but our permanent relationship provides a basic piece of social ground for me to stand on in a life that has had very little long term social bonding.
My parents have a pretty good marriage, they’ve been married for 46 years. There’s a lot of love, humor, and candor there, although it’s far from perfect…these days my parents are in their early 70s and I have given up hope on either of them going into therapy and working on some of their issues. Almost all of my parents’ friends and my extended family are married and have been married to the same people since the 1950s and 60s. My mother takes a somewhat traditional role but both my parents are politically progressive (albeit Republican) and she is not submissive to my dad. I have never personally been exposed to marriage relationships where the wife is supposed to be submissive or compliant.
Perhaps because of all of our relocations I really appreciated the stability of having an intact “good enough” nuclear family.
I lived in the Bay Area through my 20s and into my early 30s, and I was exposed to a variety of different kinds of sexual and partner relationships. I have been in successful open relationships. While my parents were monogamous, I don’t think that has to be a part of a good marriage/partnership. My current marriage is “sort of” or “mostly” monogamous–we are able to talk to one another about our loves for and sexual attractions to others, and it’s on the table for us to consider having relationships outside the marriage. It’s a lot of work, though, and we had one experience that was very unpleasant and almost led to divorce. Through that experience we both realized how much we valued our marriage and how important it is to nurture it.
I love it.
Absolutely. I think the main thing is that we have gotten to know one another more and we have strongly influenced one another’s growth and changes over the years. We have definitely learned how to communicate better and how to work together better. We have also learned better how to support one another’s freedom as well as play a supportive role by participating in one another’s activities/social worlds.