In a former life, in a previous marriage, when a friend would announce to me and my spouse that they were getting married, our typical response was, “Sorry to hear that.” It was meant primarily as a joke, but I had a whole different view on marriage then I do now.
Sure, there were the traditional concepts of honor, dedication, oaths of in sickness and in health, for better or for worse – which is the main reason why it managed to make it to 15 years. But being with a person just because you said you would, and having twisted ideas about what the “right thing” to do is not the foundation for a partnership, or love. Rather it’s a recipe for misery.
When the divorce was finally official, I didn’t really imagine myself getting married again, at least not any time soon. But the Fates had other things in store for me and when the question was asked, the answer was obvious and instantaneous – with the most difficult thing trying to figure out when and where we should do it, due to our busy schedule. We set a date for November of 2013.
In the meantime, same-sex marriage became legal in the state of Washington, which meant that my fiancé’s mother and her partner of nearly 4 decades could finally get married. So much joy! And I was beyond honored when they asked me to officiate the ceremony on their anniversary in May – which meant updating some paperwork (in the state of Rhode Island, I was recognized three times over for being able to legally perform a wedding, so wanted to make sure WA was covered as well!) and working with them to create the perfect ceremony. It was one of the most difficult things I have ever done – because it was such a beautiful and powerful experience that it took a great deal of effort to hold it together. It gave me so much perspective on my own path, and what could be ahead of me, ahead of us.
It’s been so heartbreaking over the years to see friends and family unable to get legally married because their state won’t allow it. To be denied basic rights because of outdated laws and small minds. Beautiful, amazing people who are the best of partners to each other, creating and raising families together, and been through the best and the worst. Their partnerships have outlasted most modern heterosexual marriages. Yet society has still been hung up on antiquated ideas about sex and outdated, politicized biblical verses – none of which are truly healthy for anyone of any gender or sexuality. One man + one woman is not the automatic recipe for a happy, successful marriage, nor is it the only way to have a family. Marriage is something more than that, it’s the pairing of souls, of spirits.
So a year ago, when the Supreme Court declared that same-sex marriage is legal in all 50 states, my heart burst with joy. It didn’t make everything instantly better, and there’s still battles to be fought, but it’s a sign of progress. We’re breaking down the confines that hold humanity back, that try to thwart love and understanding. I hear stories of people who were anti-gay marriage discovering how much they held back their own friends and family – and finding new beautiful examples to follow. Despite recent tragedies, I have so much hope for the future.
And as for marriage and defining it? I’ve learned a few things. You shouldn’t lose yourself in a marriage – instead you should gain a better understanding of yourself and then add another level of what it means to be you + this other person. Marriage is about knowing there will be ups and downs, and that you’re riding the tide together, not against each other. You understand that love isn’t just about passion and sexuality, but mutual respect, communication, and the ability to discover another beautiful layer of yourselves every day.
That’s what marriage is about – it’s not about the perfect dress, the most money you can spend on one day, who is sitting at what table, or if how your genitalia matches up or if it’s never been touched before – it’s about the life and love you build together as human and spiritual beings. If that’s wrong, then I don’t want to be right.