Saturday, February 1

Being Married While Millenial

It's February 1st and I'm busy as hell, but I had plans to do several romance related posts this month. I'm not a big fan of Valentine's Day, but I have several pop culture top ten lists that I've been meaning to make so I figured I'd do it this month and have a theme. But first, I wanted to talk about this article I read on The Stranger recently about being married while feminist and would like to extend that conversation to talk about being married while millenial. 

 The First Family of Heteronormativity

Kiah and I got married about 4 years ago on a lark. I'd known Kiah since high school, since about 2004, but our relationship was pretty antagonistic back then (I was dating his besto; he was jelz). It was late 2009 and I was living in Colorado, he in North Dakota, and somehow we became romantic after I mailed him a comic book and a Star Wars record. We started Tweeting at each other and sending letters and packages and e-mails, and then in March I flew to North Dakota to watch the last season of Battlestar Galactica with him. We decided not to get serious on account of the distance, but by the time I got home we said fuck it and decided to just be in love long distance.
Shortly after making this decision we were chatting on the phone and joking about how trashy our hypothetical wedding would be. After we got off the phone, I proposed to Kiah via e-mail. We got married on June 1st 2010 only 7 months after our romance began. I was 23, Kiah was 26. The wedding cost us under $300 and afterward we had a barbeque, got drunk, and made love for the first time as a married couple in an alley on our way to the bar. The next day I woke up in a hotel bed full of pizza bacon bits.

Newlyweds going to buy wedding bands (we exchanged rings from a capsule machine at a grocery store) and eat burgers.

And that's it. It was no big deal and it continues to be no big deal (no more so than any other long term relationship), but I tell people, especially people my age, that I'm married and they're befuddled. "What? You're married?" And I know they always want to ask why. Here's why: Because I felt like it. Because it wasn't a big deal and because if we're ever unhappy and it won't get better, we can get divorced. NBD.
I wish marriage wasn't so stigmatized for people my age, and more than that I wish everyone could do it (which I think would really help fulfill my first wish). To me, it seems like in a time when more people are experimenting with what a romantic relationship is and isn't and should and shouldn't be, people should also be able to recognize that divorce can just be a break up with paperwork. My brother also married young and when he got divorced he told me he felt so awful about being in his 20's and divorced, like it was akin to having a disease or some other equal baggage. Here's the thing: it doesn't have to be, and if you're making it more complicated than just a break up that requires signing some stuff, stop it. My teenage sister has overly complicated break ups; people who are married should be mature enough to handle a break up/divorce in a way that doesn't have to be a hideous, destructive event.
I also think people my age don't want to be married because marriage just isn't cool. I almost said 'anymore' but I don't think it was ever cool. It was a normative practice centered around money and ownership and a weird, unequal symbiotic relationship and then people started pushing against those norms and here we are: a generation of free wheelin' and HPV and an inability to hold on to anything that looks or feels grown up or settled (which, of course, isn't always something that can be controlled). If we could all get married it might start being more cool, but it probably never will be even if all your queer friends start doing it. It'll just become, "Did you know John and Steve are engaged? How long do you think that'll last?" Just like everyone asked when John and Sara got hitched. Getting married is like getting a degree or leasing a car or buying a house or having a baby or getting a great job. Nice, how nice for you, you've done it, you did it: You're being An Adult. Here we bought you a shot, please refrain from this bullshit that is making us feel bad about ourselves. But that's so lame. Obviously we should be celebratory and excited about other people's Big Steps, but more than that they should encourage us to take our own, whatever those may be. Also I think it would be cool to go to weddings, so stop being haters. I have a lot of nice dresses I can't wear anywhere, and if you think I won't fly out, know that I will.
I think Danielle Henderson (author of the piece that prompted this response) sums up what I'm trying to say about marriage pretty well:
"I never thought marriage was a good idea, because in my life it was always done in such a batshit crazy way. Shotgun weddings! Cheating spouses! Weddings that cost more than a house! This mom hates the in-laws! This dad shot at the in-laws! If you're judging it by the awful examples we often see played out, marriage can seem like the worst decision on earth, and anyone would feel guilty saying they signed up for that rodeo. But my marriage isn't like that ... and I don't feel guilty about finding the exact right person to spend time with on this planet."
I think that if you do it right, marriage can be a pretty rad thing, feminist or millenial or otherwise, and I think it's a real bummer that more people can't or refuse to do it. Because, even if you do it wrong, you can get a divorce and try again or try something new, and you'll certainly be happier for it. It's not that big of a deal.

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