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Marriage and Its all in the Paperwork

I was reading the blog of one of my colleagues the other day and found a post about his first wedding anniversary and the journey that he and his partner Kate took towards getting married. So much of it rang a bell:

“I’ve never understood why anyone felt the need for a certificate from the government to validate the relationship they have. And then we needed to secure a visa for my partner once I had been offered a job in America and all of a sudden it mattered to us very much that we had that government certificate. Without it we were just good friends as far as visa’s and such things were concerned.”

Since Chris and I got married (legally) about a month ago, our friends keep asking, “how’s marriage? Is it different?” And my answer is, “sometimes,” but a lot of times it feels just like it did when we were “only” dating, living together, and wanting to spend the rest of our lives with one another.

Then of course, Chris landed in the emergency room and we got a quick lesson in some of the official benefits to marriage. What’s that you say Nurse? As a wife, I can come with Chris into the X-ray room? As his wife you want me to sign his release forms? As his wife, you aren’t going to relegate me to the waiting room for 3 hours with no information?

All of a sudden that little government-issued piece of paper made a big different in our lives. The difference between two people sitting anxiously alone, scared; or sitting together, less worried, smiling, albeit at times helping one’s spouse pee into a cup. (TMI? yes?)

Tom wrote something else though, that hit another cord, and that I think and hope I’ll still agree with a year from now:

“However, a year later I’m swept away all over again remembering how breathtaking the moment was, saying our vows in front of Yolanda, the country clerk in Upper Marlboro Maryland, only my parents and sister in the audience, how I looked into Kate’s eyes and felt something deeper and more powerful than anything I had experienced. One year later I’m still wondering what this whole marriage thing is all about, but I couldn’t be happier to have made this commitment to Kate…A year later I’m still overwhelmed at how much we’ve grown, and how much we are still growing.”

When I signed on for this whole marriage thing, I was looking forward to being married to Chris, though I didn’t really know why exactly. I didn’t think the wedding would be a big deal. But it was, it is.

Holding hands with my husband, looking fancy, trying not to cry at how happy we were (and are) is a moment I can’t and won’t forget. (Especially with these wedding pictures) 🙂

Sometimes I think marriage exists mostly as a societal convention. My husband and I having a piece of paper and wearing rings means that all of a sudden living together is a great thing instead of merely tolerated, holding hands is cute instead of too much pda for the family. And so on, and so on.

But its also more than that. Marriage was my societal ticket into the ER when I needed to be there but I’d like to think its also the weird hobbling dance Chris and I did together to get him back home to our apartment. The mediocre dinners we’ve been sharing in bed when he can’t sit up much less stand in the kitchen. Marriage is the fact that he’s even contemplating 10 hours in the car this weekend just to go see my extended family, even though he’s still puttering around with a cane.

Congrats Tom, on your first year, and thank you for the inspiration for this post. I hope to write another post, about a year from now, reflecting on what our first year as husband and wife was like. By this time next year, we’ll have traveled and moved across the world together, and who knows what else. I’m looking forward to the ride.

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