On my struggle with thinking about my marriage, my wedding…

This isn’t a post about marriage or weddings in general, though it’s drawn from that space. This post is specifically the result of the fact a dear friend was talking about planning her wedding and how the desire and the fantasy and the reality and ethics and values are all mixed up and intermingled. I was making a comment and it seemed better to post it here because it was about me and my confusion and angst, and not about her experiences and planning.  

So. I just don’t know how to come to terms with wanting a marriage and also wanting a wedding (of some kind) but where I’m deeply conflicted about both of those things. 

I’m thinking that maybe what I want is a ceremony and not a legal marriage – because it better reflects my belief that marriage has less place as a legal distinction and that there could be more attention paid to the way in which people consciously choose the contracts they go into (like for property, or decision making in the event of for different things). 

That’s a bit melancholy or overly practical for my usual romantic ideals. And oh, I have romantic ideals… but they don’t seem to fit wedding related expressions and I really struggle with that and feel… out of place thinking wedding stuff. Perhaps it’s just further ways in which I don’t see my life and desires and hopes and dreams reflected around me with positivity and options and acceptance… (like television and media and magazines and books and movies etc…). 

And I *love* K, like I love *breathing* and *laughing*

He’s absolutely the person I want to marry – but I feel like my reasons aren’t good enough or are suspect because of my other relationships and beliefs. 

And there is child-me who also fantasised about the day and the dress and how it was – but not the person I’d marry, just me, and all that ritual and prettyness without substance. And now… at 31 I want substance. And I struggle also as a feminist with all the symbols and ritual associated.

And I’m no closer to figuring it out.  Which is just one reason I’m still engaged and not married, with another significant reason that I just can’t bear to until marriage equality happens here in Australia.

But I still want an aspect or several aspects of both a marriage and a wedding… but I just don’t know how to do this and feel like it’s *me* and *K*, what we both believe and want and what we’re both creating for our lives. 

(And what about cohabiting, and what about other significant relationships that may grow and what if x, y, z… I lack useful context for how to frame and process and think through this as a queer and poly person who never plans to be monogamous, never plans to necessarily cohabit with one, any or all partners consistently.

And…  you see how I might be a bit angsty and tied up in knots about it. I suspect I could logic it all out, but my heart and feelings are not in that place yet. So I shall continue musing and inwardly flailing and talking with K about it so that we do what works for us… and only when and how it works for us. 

13 thoughts on “On my struggle with thinking about my marriage, my wedding…

  1. It’s a big mess of symbols and expectations, isn’t it?The addage of ‘do what feels comfortable’ kind of applies and kind of doesn’t. I guess ‘go what makes you feel least uncomfortable andyet makes you happiest" might be more useful. When we critically examine any tradition, we are forcibly reminded of our roots of domination/submission, ownership/control. Maybe you need to get together with some friends and make a whole new ceremony altogether.

  2. It’s tricky isn’t it? In the end we basically went for the "big dress up party" approach, I had fun wearing a pretty dress and having a nice cake but didn’t feel like it was symbolic of what our relationship meant in any deep way, and accepted that it would be deeply imperfect (which it was. But still fun!). That said, as time’s gone on I have become more weirded out by what it really means to be married in a country where marriage is denied to so many and often used as weapon against those who don’t fit into neat heteronormative boxes. Good luck figuring it all out!

  3. Transcendancing says:

    @Calli – yeah I’m suspecting that’s where I’m going to end up, that balance between least uncomfortable and overall happiest for both of us. @sqbr – that’s a good point, it is going to be deeply imperfect, and it’s possible that it doesn’t have to reflect our relationship etc… but there’s a lot of cultural baggage to go with that where it would be difficult for that not to be inferred regardless of our intention. And yes, the current context for marriage just seems… more problematic than ever. I’d have less issues if it wasn’t a legal institution at all, and was instead a social convention.

  4. Tiki says:

    You’re familiar with the concept of handfasting? Ritual with many of the aspects of marriage, but coming out of a more equal tradition and also (my love of it comes from this) contains a time component that the handfasting will be valid for – a night, a season, a year, a child’s minority years… Not legally recognised, but meets many of the inner needs for ritual to mark our changes of life, our passages, our choices. And those inner needs for ritual are important – the druidic thought here is that we make our own lives out of these archetypes, and we need to honour them as we walk through them, allow them to have real meaning and not just subconscious absorption of them through osmosis with general society. The ritual can be what you need it to be, and that can take thinking, but it’s valuable.And forget this judging your own reasons as suspect thing. Seriously. If you were fifteen, or if you were trying to get married because there was something wrong with you and it was the only way you can fix it, or if you were only doing it out of obligation to family or society, then sure, be suspicious of yourself. But, y’know, you’ve been thinking about this and doing it for a while now. Your reasons have carried you this far. Your understanding of it all won’t yet be fixed, but it won’t be til you die so that’s no reason to wait. And maybe you don’t even need reasons if you know it’s right. When I was deciding whether or not to marry James, I sat down in a meadow on a hillside and looked out at the farmland below. I asked the grass beside me what I should say, and it said, unequivocally, Yes.

  5. Transcendancing says:

    Oh Tiki… thank you so much for this. That’s exactly what I needed to hear and be reminded of. *lovelovelove* I can absolutely accept and appreciate that connection is the point and celebration happens in its own way, in its own time and in a myriad ways. It’s all part of the life that I’m creating, he’s creating and that we’re creating.

  6. Lucretiae says:

    Let me share with you some things I have learnt from the experience Matt and I have. We are not legally married… not because of the issues I personally have with the nature of marriage in Australia (and boy do I have some issues with the way it works!) or because Matt has any problems with getting married but because we just haven’t got around to it yet.However, I wear my wedding and engagement rings, as does Matt when he’s not working. We refer to each other as husband and wife. I have even filled in a form (my UK passport I think) describing myself as married because they did not have another category that described our relationship (I think the others were never married, separated, divorced, widowed). People accept that we are a married couple. Our parents and all of our friends refer to us and consider us a married couple. I am yet to be asked for proof that we are a married couple. People accept that we have different surnames without blinking. In Australia the legal status of a defacto couple is pretty much equivalent to that of a legally married couple. The only thing that I can see that a legal marriage gets you is that one of you can have a free name change if you want. Right now if I choose to change my name to match Matt’s surname then I have to pay to get my passport/drivers licence etc changed, as well as paying for the name change itself. A legal marriage does that all for free. Our wedding will be an excuse for a very big party. At this stage we’re not even sure it will involve us getting legally married or whether that will be something we nip down to Bunbury to do before the party.What’s my point? A wedding is a party where you might get legally married. More importantly it’s a celebration in whatever way you choose of the deep commitment that people make to each other and gives you a date to peg it to for continued celebrations down the years. Being married is more than the legal piece of paper that the government gives you. It’s about the way you view your own relationship, about the commitment between people to be together, and it’s about the way everyone else views your relationship. You and K are already married. You just haven’t had a wedding or signed the paperwork yet.

  7. Transcendancing says:

    I really appreciate you sharing that – that is a lot of how I view the situation, but I still wrestle with stuff on occasion and it’s not always enough to concentrate on the fact that it’s a wonderful opportunity to celebrate with family and friends. That’s a lot of why I *do* want it, but not everything… and I also just can’t quite get my head around the baggage around it too. It’s a work in progress – getting married isn’t something that will actually change things for us at this point (aside from that free name change), so it’s not the highest priority, and until I can fight to dismantle the whole legal part of the institution, I’ll fight instead for the equal access to it.

  8. Purrdence says:

    The vows Drhoz and I made to each other when we got married never included anything along the lines of ‘forsaking all others’. I still can’t figure out if no one actually noticed that lack of that line or are just too polite to say anything…

  9. Silverai says:

    I was challenged by my partner to come up with a reason to get married, as I always wanted to and he never did. After a few years, I still hadn’t come up with any big reason. The only thing I came up with was there was a difference between saying (and meaning) one will do something, and promising one will do something. To me, that was the difference. I was still going to be with him no matter what and he knew that. Even so, while planning the wedding, I still had my flaily moments about myself and him and marriage, but we worked them out.I found http://www.offbeatbride.com to be invaluable for the articles where people struggled with different aspects such as "becoming a wife", "changing surnames", and "making it ‘legal’" and other people responding in comments. The whole website is a breath of fresh air after mainstream ideas about weddings feeling so oppressive after a while. Perhaps it will help you to explore some of the feelings you are having?

  10. I may poke Best Beloved for some possibly useful thoughts on his knowledge of non-conventional ways to celebrate any form of relationship, privately, in a select group or publicly, that go nicely hand-in-hand with perhaps a separate acknowledgement of how everyone in the relationship would prefer to be recognised in the legal sense (marriage certificate, legal declarations stating de facto/common-law relationship, etc).Best Beloved’s research into handfasting ceremonies, their history, reasons for coming to be, and how open it is to equal partners redefining the basic ceremony to suit their unique needs, and giving them some tools to shape the direction of their relationship is a beautiful, personal way to express acknowledgement, responsibility and expressing love between people who love each other. And the key part of personalisation is a big reason of why I love it. :)I’m looking into this option as a way I can reaffirm and acknowledge mine and Best Beloved’s relationship, and have a personal, private cermeony, just the two of us, renewing and celebrating our private promises to each other, and reassuring each other that no one but the two of us define this relationship of ours. ?

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