parens binubus

more than you want to know about a law school graduate/bar examinee who is also raising two children and doing her best at being a partner to her love.

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  • Thursday, March 16, 2006
    on marriage
    beloved and i are not married. this has been a conscious decision of ours ... it has nothing to do with fear of commitment, nothing to do with a desire to "get out" if we need to later on. we are very committed to one another. the things we have done together and for one another have proven that much more than a marriage certificate ever could. (although when i think about those things, they tend to point more from him to me -- he is the one who moved from his home state to the opposite coast for the sake of MY schooling --- he is the one who has taken on responsibilities and infringements on his life because of the Beautiful Things -- he is the one who is working at a less-than-desirable job in order to help me get through school).

    Why have we not gotten married?

    1) because we have been married. each of us, to different people, and we found the institution flawed, or broken, or imperfect, or something bad. it did things to both of us - to our persons, our inner selves, that we do not want to repeat. I will not speak for him, but for me .... I lost myself. There was no "zuska" while I was married. There was "schlurg's wife."

    2) because I see marriage as being so much of a religious ceremony - and i do not belong to a religion. i do not feel that i need to be "one in god's eyes." I feel that we are truly partnered, in our eyes, in our lives, in our actions, and this ceremony is unnecessary to validate that. (or should be).

    3) because it would have no impact on our relationship. so ... why do it? for what? not for god, not for "us," so for who?

    it used to be that it was not required by "our society." We used to live in Berkeley, California, where i knew many couples who had not gotten married ... they had kids, they owned a home, they were a couple. but they were not married. one woman told me that every year they would ask their accountant at tax-time, "should we get married? will it help?" and every year he shrugged and said, "not really." (i do now know enough of tax through my family law class to know that IF I were to get my way and have beloved quit his job upon me getting settled into a post-grad firm, it actually would make more tax-sense to be married).

    but we don't live in berkeley anymore. we live in New England. and i'm finding it to be more and more required by society ... that a couple living together (especially with children in the house) be married.

    furthermore, i see that the Beautiful Things see it as required by society. Thing Two has asked many times why we are not, if we could please, and made it known that she feels that we would fit more into the world view that she is being raised inside of if we were in fact, married. we have told the Things our view .... that all marriage consists of is a piece of paper, and we don't need a piece of paper to tell us that we love each other. that we ARE a family, that we ARE a couple.

    and there is a part of me that wants to get married. i can't even put my finger on why. as i said - there will be no changes. there is nothing that we are holding back in this relationshpi. there is no doubt that we are in it for the long haul. but there's something about having beloved be my husband that is very appealing.

    which is odd, especially considering that fresh from the last marriage, the word "husband" or "wife" was like poison on my tongue. it meant something ELSE. but now, to me, it means a woven fabric. something super-homey. like, something that IS here, but yet, isn't.

    that's the part where i feel that societal expectations are within me, b/c i am a part of society. i am one of its members.

    but then there's the other part of "societal expectations" affecting my view .... i don't want for people to see us as less than what we are. i don't want them to think, "oh, there's that single mother with her live-in boyfriend" - b/c that is not US. i don't want the girls to feel like we're not as complete as we could be, that we're just one sheet shy of a true family. i don't want the judgment. and that, to me, is the WRONG reason to want something.

    I also want the shortcut. I'm sick of saying, "my partner and i are going out this weekend" and know that people are wondering about my sexual orientation. the judge i worked for over the summer was absolutely appalled that i used the word "partner" to talk about beloved. he was a tad conservative (duh), and was like, "but don't you realize? if you say that, people are going to think that you're a lesbian!" I shrugged it off and said, "you know, that doesn't bother me. I'm not a lesbian, so i don't want to be ... misleading, and i often do somehow say "he" shortly after, but if someone is left wondering, i'm not offended or insulted, so that's really not an issue for me." He could not believe it. But I'm not going to say "boyfriend." I'm 33, not 13. Not 23. And "boyfriend" doesn't convey our commitment to each other. I'm not going to say "significant other," b/c as far as I'm concerned, that's a sentence. I used to be made fun of in my teaching circle last year b/c I always said, "my [his name]" when referring to beloved, and i was told i had ownership issues. (all in good fun).

    We've thought of just using the shortcut - in fact, i think he does call me his wife when talking to others at work. but most of the people i talk to know that i'm not married. it would just be weird. i could perhaps call him my husband, but then people would be all, "oh, did you get MARRIED??? WHEN???" and i'd be forced to say, "well, really, I didn't, but husband is just easier to say!"

    beloved and i have had discussions about this issue over and over. sometimes at the prompting of the Things' questions, and sometimes at my raising of the issue. i think he's raised it once. we vascillate. sometimes i'll start a discussion b/c i want us to think it over, and end the discussion saying, "ewww, no, i don't want to!" i think it's pretty well settled that it's going to happen some day - whether b/c of taxes or b/c of insurance reasons. but i think that the stronger and stronger our relationship gets, the more i think i want to b/c of me and him.

    i don't know. it's all very muddling.
    posted by Zuska @ 10:18 PM  
    • At Friday, March 17, 2006 9:53:00 PM, Blogger Blonde Justice said…

      Hey, you should read (and leave a comment on) this:

    • At Friday, March 17, 2006 11:37:00 PM, Blogger Mieke said…

      I was also married once before - there is something inexplicable and tangible when you get married. It is a nuanced thing. I felt it right away after Jefferson and I were married –despite being much more cynical and doubting it would happen.

      Then there are the practical isuses. Have you written out your wills? Who gets the girls if you were to suddenly die - would they automatically go to their dad? What about if beloved were to drop dead tomorrow- if you are married you'd be eligible to collect his social security. See how my mind works? Creepy and dark.

    • At Sunday, March 19, 2006 8:12:00 PM, Blogger Lyco said…

      This was a great post Zuska. You know, mieke has a good point in that our society is structured to provide incentives and security to married couples. Sometimes those societal benefits tip the scale, sometimes they don't. Also, there is something wonderful about the word "husband." As in, "this is my husband, beloved" or "I really need to talk with my husband first." A kind of legitimacy and comfort. This too is societal incentive. So not to be crude, but it kind of comes down to a cost-benefit analysis. Do the benefits outweigh the Eeeeewww factor?

      You know, there's something important and validating about not needing to meet societal standards to fufill yourself. At the same time, there's something lovely about setting that commitment formally and using those titles "husband" and "wife."

    • At Sunday, March 19, 2006 9:43:00 PM, Anonymous beloved said…

      yes, yes, but i think the point that gets missed is the message we send things one and two.

      what does it say to the girls if we capitulate to make our lives fit
      their expectations (and societal pressures)? what does it tell them about the most important adults in their lives that we'd ignore our own principals and values for someone else? would we want them to feel like they had to do the same things as adults, that being an adult means compromising what you think and
      feel for what others expect? should they learn that conformity is more
      important than a personal freedom or belief?

      okay, there are fiscal and legal benefits... and somehow it's okay that we give them to some people because they have a "legitimate" commitment to one another over those whose commitments are lesser in societies eyes?

      zuska's right, we'll probably tie the knot at some point, but it doesn't fix what's wrong with the whole state of matrimony just give in.

      my two cents.

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