Sunday, March 4, 2012

What’s a Modern Girl Want with Marriage, Anyway?

Today's entry is a bit unusual-- I didn't write it. Instead, this is courtesy of my friend Jenny, one of my favorite people in the world. Jenny is 25, and spends her days working on her PhD while trying to solve the mysteries of prostate cancer. She has a golden retriever named after Bruce Wayne, she's one of the most well-read people I know, she has an amazing assortment of heels, she's a kick-ass rock-climber, she makes delicious cupcakes, and she's a huge nerd.
She also just bought her wedding dress.

Like everything else in life, it turns out lots of people have opinions they feel the need to share with you, if you’re a 25 year old woman getting married. Are you knocked up, they say. Why not just live together, they say. Isn’t it selfish of you to get married when not everyone can?

It takes all the (limited) patience I have not to hit them with my favorite quote from The Departed: Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe go fuck yourself. But to be a little more civil, I’ve broken it down with my friend Amanda, who’s kindly let me work out my mental twists and turns in this guest post.

1) Why get married? Because I want to. In an ideal world, this would be the only reason that mattered. I’ve dated my fiancé for a little over a year, and we’re both ready to get married. For various personal reasons, we don’t want to live together before we’re married, so we’re looking forward to not only starting our lives together but also sharing a home with our dog for the first time. I think it’s safe to say that not being married has complicated our lives far more than being married will. I am certain that I will be staying with my fiancé for the rest of our lives. And no, I do not want to wait five years, or ten years, or thirty-five years, or however long it will take until some anonymous commenter on the lives of others feels we’re
“ready.” We’re ready now. We’ve talked about it thoroughly, and we’re clear on what marriage will and will not be changing about our relationship. We’ll live in the same place. I’ll be changing my name (and no, I will not be taking opinions on that topic). Aside from that: not much. A friend recently told me that her mother’s philosophy is that if you’re not married before the wedding, you won’t be married after it. The actual ceremony and certificate won’t be changing things for us. I’m not insecure or trying to prove anything. I just want our relationship to be as official as it can be, for my own emotional reasons. In other words: Why would we NOT get married? There’s nothing holding us back. I’m in graduate school, but I don’t need to be single in order to finish. I’m 25, he’s 24. We’ve both dated plenty of people and had enough experience to know when the right person came along. Additionally, I don’t find much credibility in the theory that “it’s much more meaningful to not get married, because then every day you spend together is a choice.” Every day you spend with someone, in or out of marriage, is a choice. Disentangling yourself from any long term relationship, married or not, is going to be difficult. I, personally, find it much more meaningful to get married. Why? I’ve never married anyone before. It’s the most special thing I can think of to demonstrate how important my fiancé is to me.

2) Why get married? Because it will simplify things for my fiancé and I. I mentioned this before, but not sharing a house while we share a dog is a giant pain in the butt. More than that, having the rights that come easily with marriage but are so hard to get otherwise will be a big bonus. I don’t have to worry about not being able to see him in the hospital. He won’t have to fight my dad for our dog if I die suddenly. (My dad really loves our dog.) When we buy a house together, our loan process will be more streamlined than if we were just living together. In the event of one of our sudden illnesses, end of life decisions and similar medical consultations will take place by default with the other person. Although you can certainly file paperwork empowering your partner to make these decisions, hospitals may choose to recognize these or not. In the event of one of our deaths, our estate will revert to the other one, not to our parents. If one of us chooses to stay at home with the children, and the supporting spouse dies, the widow/er has the option to bring a wrongful death suit and get money to represent the lost earnings.

3) Why get married? Because it will make things easier for our future family. This is a short point, but a good one—our children will be default have both our names on their birth certificates. We’ll both be empowered to pick them up from school, sign off on things, etc., and while that’s not something that’s limited to married parents, it will make dealing with school administrators easier. Again, in the event of one of our deaths, custody of the children will revert to the surviving spouse, not our families.

4) Why get married? Because I believe that everyone should have the option. Not getting married as a stance on gay rights only really works if you’re a high-profile celebrity. Otherwise, you’re protesting others’ lack of civil rights, but not exercising your own. That doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. It’s like saying all people should have the right to vote, but then not voting yourself. It’s my firm opinion, having been raised in the Bible Belt, that marriage will never be changed from the outside. It will take the dedicated work of married, straight supporters of gay rights to start to change the mainstream attitude about marriage. I also know that the kind of people who believe in the defense of marriage see not getting married as a cop out. By getting married, I am strengthening my own voice in this debate, making it carry more weight where it counts.

Plus, I love my fiancé and I can’t wait to get married to him.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

stick with "because I want to"- with a will and a couple of other legal documents, the other points are moot.