Lee and I have now been married for fourteen days. It is 2,078 days since we met and exactly 190 days since we became parents. Out of those three milestones, I think that being parents has had the greatest impact on our lives, but we wouldn’t be married or have a baby if we hadn’t met, so meeting and becoming a couple is probably the most significant thing that has ever happened to either of us.
After we had been going out for about three years, I started joking to Lee about getting married. It is something that I always thought would be part of my story. I was a flowergirl seven (!) times when I was younger and had planned my wedding down to the tiniest detail. So when it started coming up in conversation with Lee, I absolutely thought that he would be feeling the same.
Well. That wasn’t what happened.
Lee is one of five kids and none of them are married. Neither are his parents. It had literally never occurred to him that he would get married one day. He wasn’t anti-marriage per se, he just didn’t see the point and thought that it was a waste of time and money.
Over the next few years, we debated the issue a lot. And I realized that doing something that is essentially only a glorified party, a piece of paper, and some photos is very hard to argue for. No matter how much I explained how much it meant to me, we got stuck on the ‘but what is the point?’ argument, and I had no answer. Eventually, I came around to the idea of not getting married. I embraced a Gen Y, pro-feminist, carefree attitude towards it. And eventually, I became comfortable and happy being Lee’s ‘partner’ and not his wife.
And then we had a baby. This tiny, perfect thing that is exactly half Lee and half me. And we began this new project together, one that will never end. I wanted to be Lee’s wife again. I wanted to wear a wedding ring and have wedding photos on the wall. And tell Archie about our wedding one day.
But part of me still believed that marriage is pretty pointless. It really is just a glorified party and an excuse to wear a pretty dress and eat fancy things. It is a collection of archaic traditions that treat women as chattel, based on Christian and, earlier, Pagan traditions that are far removed from my life. Rates of divorce are higher than they’ve ever been. De facto partnerships have pretty much the same rights as married couples these days. The Marriage Act in Australia discriminates against same-sex partnerships. There are a million reasons why we shouldn’t have gotten married.
But you know what? Knowing all this, and still taking the risk, jumping off into the unknown, defying common sense and logic and doing something for no other reason but that we love each other, makes it more special.
We got to pick and choose the traditions that mean something to us (no to name changing, bouquet tossing, garters, first dances, cheesy photo sessions, rings for Lee; yes to Dad walking me down the aisle, speeches, flowers and a fabulous white dress) and surprise all our family and friends in the backyard of a house we built, with a tribe of kids running around high on sugar and ice cream.
We got to say meaningful things to each other in front of everyone, and promise to be the best people we can be for each other, for our son and for our community. We have an awesome story to tell the grandkids and awesome photos to back it up.
I have been asked a lot in the past week ‘how does it feel to be married?’. Pretty much the same, on the surface. I read this by Rebecca Wolff on one of my favourite blogs ‘Girls Gone Child’ (I tried to edit it but couldn’t take any bits out because it is all superb) (Also she has a son called Archer and is a mind-blowingly fantastic writer and a mum and is awesome and I want to be her a bit) :
Marriage is HARD. It’s hard and it’s weird and it’s terrifying and lonely and all of these things we do not discuss when we repeat our vows. “For better or for worse” is a little on the vague side I think.
None of that exists anymore but it didn’t ever anyway. That’s what I’ve come to realize over time. That the beginning doesn’t really count. The beginning is basically a total bullshit lie.
In the beginning, we made each other “happy”. Now? We make each other BETTER. Happy, too, but also unhappy. Because growth hurts and the truth can be brutal and that is how we grow. That is how we grow as a couple and grow our children and that is how we grow.
I guess now that we are hitched, I do feel like we are more cemented and equipped to focus on making each other ‘better’, rather than just happy. We are a solid rock ready to take on the world.
Love ya, manfriend.