So, hey. I’m getting married in 6 weeks.
I read this essay this morning before I got out of bed, and it totally made me settle a little bit on this front. Because, hey, look at that. Nothing we ever feel is unique. I am, expectably, not alone in this ambivalence. I am not a special snowflake who finds it strange to be contemplating a second wedding when the first failed so spectacularly.
“You cannot think of one marriage without the other, or at least I can’t. I squint at other second-time brides, wondering if they’re experiencing the same duality, as if they’ve walked all the way around the world only to arrive in familiar territory as completely different people. It’s hard for me to believe they can put on a white dress and stand up there and make those promises while thinking, ‘Nope, none of this reminds me of anything in particular’, but if they’re thinking anything else, they’re too polite to say so.” From Once More With Feeling.
And this is absolutely part of my challenge in talking openly about getting married to Justin: I can’t talk about it without thinking that I’m getting married AGAIN. Which means saying out loud “I’m getting married in August!” while finishing the sentence mentally “…AGAIN.” Part of that frustration and instinctive reaction comes from the fact that I never really wanted to get married once, let alone twice. When I was in college I said to my mom that I was pretty sure I’d have kids, but I was positive I wouldn’t ever get married. (We see how well that’s worked out so far.)
But consider: The long-term marrieds in my family are the most traditional and conservative people I know, and are representative of the part of my upbringing I was most adamant about walking away from. I’m not that kind of woman, and I don’t want that kind of life. (There’s no judgement of my family in that; I just wanted something different, and have walked a different path by choice.) The people to whom I feel the most emotional kinship — my parents — were married for 10 years, divorced, got back together for 10 more years, and then split again. So I say my parents divorced when I was 17, but I mean “their relationship ended”. They were divorced when I was 7. And the commitment and love of the 2nd round of 10 years was no more or less meaningful for the lack of a ceremony. Right up until they weren’t, I always believed my parents were committed to each other and our family, and I never stopped believing that they loved each other deeply. So why would I believe that a wedding was somehow the important thing? I have no evidence of that. The love and commitment, yes. The wedding, not so much. Not to mention that it is, in so many ways, something I rail against: Government intrusion in a truly personal thing. Why does the State get to approve my choices and validate them with laws? Fuck off, State.
And yet here it is. I’m doing it. AGAIN.
But above all else, I don’t want to flavor my relationship to Justin and our choice to get married with the baggage of the last one — not any more than our relationship is already colored by all of our past choices and loves. It deserves to be separate. We deserve that. But for me, it’s still THERE. Always.
So there are jokes I only tell to a small group of people. Comments I only make to the people who won’t judge me too harshly. And I do my very best to smile past my discomfort and talk openly and cheerfully about our plans for this party. I try to let go of my own hesitations about ceremony and formality and legality and repetitions, and just enjoy this moment in my life with him by my side. I try to enjoy this man, and the life we’re building. To appreciate my joy. Because the joy is real. The joy is meaningful. The man is mine, and I intend to keep him forever. I want this life. I love these choices. I want to give him as much as he gives me.
I just, deep down, struggle to see what “marriage” has to do with any of that, and wish my own experiences didn’t already leave me feeling slightly distasteful about the whole concept.