Marrying My Housemate

Marrying My Housemate May 11, 2016
Humor is a very necessary ingredient in community living. And in marriage.
Humor is a very necessary ingredient in community living. And in marriage.

When I wrote about housemate drama, an exhausting but seemingly inevitable part of community living, I mentioned there was a flipside. Through living in intentional community I have gained deep friendships as well as a new family. If losing a friend through housemate drama is the catastrophe of communal living, what’s the opposite (the eucatastrophe, to borrow a phrase from C.S.Lewis) if not marrying a housemate?

I remember the first time Autumn walked up the stairs at Evermore, my community house. I was about to publish an ad when she heard about the available room from another housemate. I agreed to meet with her, thinking it would be a short preliminary visit. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Autumn arriving - for our wedding ritual.
Autumn arriving – for our wedding ritual.

My housemates and I asked her to move in right there and then. I remember the way her eyes widened when I said: “I don’t think we need an application process anymore. When can you move in?” What I didn’t know, is that I had just welcomed my future spouse into her new home.

Since then we have grown together, lived through conflict and drama, teamed up to banish a vampire, traveled to Germany, celebrated meeting new lovers, supported each other through breakups, and learned how to bicker, argue, make up, and laugh with one another. All the while we insisted that we were “just” friends and housemates.

But others didn’t think so. They saw how much Autumn and I, as well as our third “just” friend and housemate, cared for each other. “You three are like an old married triad!” our subletter exclaimed over pizza one day. “Seriously. The way you bicker and joke and order food for each other. Just like an old married triad.”

I believe this was the moment Mead stepped on my wedding dress.
I believe this was the moment Mead stepped on my wedding dress.

We laughed, but eventually we realized that our subletter was right. Our relationship had gone beyond “just” friends and housemates. We had become partners. Life partners. We were committed to each other, like spouses. We shared resources, like spouses. We loved each other, like spouses. All three of us.

“You know, we could save a lot of money if one of us could claim the other as a dependent,” Autumn said.

“Like, if we were, like, married?” I said.

“Yeah, I mean, only if you were OK with that,” she said.

“Uhm, are you proposing to me right now?” I said.

“I guess?” she said.

“…” I said.

“…” she said.

We never stopped laughing. Even cutting the wedding cake made us laugh.
We never stopped laughing. Even cutting the wedding cake made us laugh.

And then we laughed. And then we thought about it. And then we thought about it some more. And then we realized just how much we loved each other. And we decided to have a handfasting ceremony, for the three of us, and a wedding for Autumn and I.

Last Sunday we signed the papers, but more importantly, we celebrated a beautiful ceremony. A ritual, actually. I remember how much more real it felt than the marriage to my ex-husband, so many years ago. Back then it felt like a ceremonial performance fulfilling cultural expectations. Our wedding on Sunday felt like a real ritual, a magical ritual with blessings, symbols, and vows that hold deep meaning for me.

IMG_6197Our amazing friend Lizann Bassham wrote our vows for us, based on long conversations. She captured perfectly the beauty of our relationship, a relationship in which we are not co-dependent, but support each other freely, in which we commit not to the nature of our relationship, but to our truest, most authentic selves. With Lizann’s and Autumn’s permission, I am sharing our vows here:

I promise to love and support you

as you live into your own gifts and talents

as you move in the world and through your

relationships and connections with others

 

I promise to love and support you

and to communicate with you

through times of conflict and challenge

as well as joy and delight

 

I promise as we move forward

to reflect on our vows with you

and be willing to renegotiate

the terms of our relationship

as life and we change

 

I promise to love and support you

and our well-being as individuals

not to simply serve the longevity of the relationship

 

You can not possess me for I belong to myself

But while we both wish it,

I give you that which is mine to give

 

You can not command me, for I am a free person

But I shall support you with a willing heart.

 

Getting ready to place our wedding stones in the planter.
Getting ready to place our wedding stones in the planter.

Instead of rings, we exchanged stones. They were of different shapes and colors, but equal weight, and we each inscribed our stone with a sigil, representing what we bring to the relationship. Instead of giving them to one another, we placed them in a planter on our altar, prepared for this occasion.

Then we took our center stone, the one representing our relationship, and gave it to our friends who had gathered with us. Each person held the stone, and infused it with their blessing, either silently or by speaking the words for all to hear. We invited Mead, our third partner, to bless the stone last and then balance it upon the two stones on the altar. Our relationship stone came to rest upon the two pillars of ourselves. Lizann then closed our ceremony with this blessing

Blessed be this union with the gifts of the East and

Air. Communication of the heart, mind, and body. Fresh

beginnings with the rising of each Sun. The knowledge

of the growth found in the sharing of silences.

 

Blessed be this union with the gifts of the South and

Fire. Warmth of hearth and home, the heat of life’s

passion, and the light created by both to lighten the

darkest of times.

 

Blessed be this union with the gifts of the West and

Water. The deep commitments and constant movement of

the ocean. The refreshing cleansing of the rain.

 

Blessed be this union with the gifts of the North and

Earth. Firm foundation on which to build your lives,

and a stable home to which you may always return.

 

Blessed be this union with the gifts of the Center and

Spirit. The energy of being surrounded by good

friends, and the deep wisdom and joy of The Universe.

Our wedding planter with all three stones.
Our wedding planter with all three stones.
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