This week, my husband and I sat in a real estate agent’s office and put our first ever offer on an actual house on an actual piece of land that we would actually like to own.
“You guys are legally married, right?” the real estate agent asked. We said yes, we are.
“Do you have the same last name?” the real estate agent asked.
It’s a question I’ve become used to answering, and one of the first I tackled in the weeks after Patrick and I got drunk at the lake one hot September weekend and decided to get married.
Indeed, the first-ever Hitched column I wrote for the Frisky way back in October 2011 is about precisely this name-changing issue, detailing my deep discomfort with the idea of doing so, myself. Since then my views have changed, somewhat —I’m as pleased as ever to remain the “Greasy Grimey Gopher Girl” of my school days, but intellectually, I’d rather talk about why heterosexual cisgender men aren’t scrambling to change their names upon marriage. I’d rather talk about names and race privilege, and names and class privilege, and names and cis privilege. I’d rather talk about the lived experience of feminism and how that’s different for everyone who identifies as such.
And that, Hitched readers, is all thanks to you and your thoughtful questions, valuable insights and, let’s be real, occasional unabashed trolling. But now it is time for this old married lady to move on to new topics (anyone want to read a “Housed” column?) and bid farewell to my weekly rages against the wedding industrial complex.
Hitched has been more than fun. It has been instructive and maddening and heartening to work through the wedding pains with y’all. Because writing about this process was part of why I agreed to have a wedding in the first place, despite my reluctance to put my actual emotions on display for all to see: I liked the idea of a public witnessing of two people dedicating themselves to each other, to forming a new family unit. Plenty of people might get secretly married, or elope, but nobody throws a wedding in a broom closet. The very point of having a wedding is to do it publicly.
I wanted to have a wedding because I wanted to be able to say to my family and friends “Did you hear that?” Did you hear Patrick and I declare undying love? Did you hear my dad kill it singing “Margaritaville” at the karaoke reception? Did you hear Patrick’s dad and my aunt’s rendition of “Benny and the Jets”? These are the sounds of a new family.
To that end, I think marriage is an interesting and important sociological building block, one that needs to be much more inclusive and, simultaneously, much less obligatory. This is what nearly two years of writing about a capitalism-driven, citizenship-oriented wedding industry has taught me: marriage is lovely, and weddings are fun, but these can also be powerful tools of patriarchy and oppression.
Working through these ideas, and planning the actual event itself, was alternately a nightmare and a pleasure. Yes, it was horrifying to lose our venue less than three weeks before our wedding. But writing Hitched kept me honest and grounded during that time; would we find somewhere else to get married? Of course we would. If it wasn’t the perfect place? Well, if we’re married at the end of the day, what does it matter?
Now, after 15 or so months of marriage, Patrick and I have been married at the end of 452 days. Thank you, Hitched readers, for walking down this weird, wild aisle with us.
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