Growing up, I saw singledom as the “default” way to live. My first impression of my (divorced) parents were as singles, and they were carrying on just fine, so I figured that was just the way things were. I managed to remain pretty oblivious to the society-wide pressure to marry longer than most kids, and while a partner sounded nice, I never thought I needed one growing up or planned my future with a someday husband in mind. I reasoned that I could never plan for something so volatile as love, and always thought of myself as something of a free agent in the world, unlike many of my peers, who went through high school and college counting the days until they found a nice young guy with top-dollar earning potential so that their “real life” could start. Other people, potential partners included, seemed like such wildcards — who knew whether they’d show up for me or when? I expected to only be able to count on myself. On paper, this sounds pretty bitter, but it wasn’t that way at all — it was just how I saw life, and rarely gave it a second thought. If I had thought about it more at the time, I’d have seen it as empowering, if anything. As I got older, though, my mind felt lagged and overtaxed as it constantly ran over and prepared for every task and potential problem each day would hold. I had to check and double check my own logic, because I made nobody else privy to my day-to-day stresses, and as a result, nobody else was going to make sure I stayed on top of things. I started to feel the mental and physical toll of counting on nobody but myself.
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Yesterday, while I was getting ready to go to CostCo with my boyfriend, Michael, I told him a story a friend had told me about how much her dad hated her grandfather. I said, “I wonder what it’s like to have parents who you really deep-down hate.” Then I paused and thought about it, and said, “Well, I hated my in-laws.”
And for the first time in the last two years, I felt a sudden and very real sense of dissonance in saying that. I felt too young to say something like “I hated my in-laws,” in the past tense; as in, I had in-laws. As in, in my life, I have had in-laws, but now, I do not have in-laws. Keep reading »
When you marry someone and sponsor him for immigration, you declare loud and clear for the government, your employers, and your loved ones all to hear that you have created a new family. You gain legal rights and spousal privileges. Your credit ratings affect each other. Your taxes change. You send thank you cards that you both sign. Both socially and on paper, you are a new family unit. Look at us — Kale and Jessie!
But that’s on paper. Words on paper don’t represent emotions. Couples who dated and even lived together for a long time probably already feel like they’re a family — and I would agree they are one. I don’t believe a family is “a family” only when it’s recognized by the government; I have friends with strained biological family relations who consider their real families made up of close friends a “family of choice.” The concept of family is really a mindset. So, when in a relationship or a new marriage like ours do you actually start to feel like a family? Keep reading »
In March, Michael and I met up with my friend and her boyfriend for a double-date. I already knew that they’d gone to look at rings, but their big news that night was that he had gone ahead and bought it, and already talked to her mom and dad about proposing to her. I was thrilled for my friend: She is one of the coolest people I know, her boyfriend is a really good guy, they work well together, they’ve started building a life that suits what she wants, and now they’re making it official — things are working out really nicely for them.
When we left the bar and were safely out of anyone’s earshot, and asked Michael to stop. “I just want to be clear,” I told him, “I want to get married. That’s where I’m headed. I’d like to know if that’s what you want, too.”
“Yeah,” he said, and smiled. “Yeah what?” I asked, because I hate having things in uncertain terms. “Yeah, I want to marry you some day,” he replied. Keep reading »
Last week, our new dude dating columnist Dater XY wrote a provocative piece about how his best friend is a woman and some ladies he meets online dating can’t handle that. With a few exceptions, commenters on that piece agreed Dater XY is shit outta luck. “I don’t see a way out of this. I think that pretty much every girl, no matter how secure she is, will have in the back of her mind, ‘I wonder what they’re REALLY doing,’” wrote one commenter. ”It’s a red flag,” added another.
Well, that hasn’t been my experience at all. My husband’s two best friends are women and he sees both ladies several nights a week. Their friendships are not suspicious to me at all. In fact, I think it’s great. Keep reading »
Pretty much everything about Kale and I getting married was untraditional. But we were actually quite traditional by not moving in together until a few days before our wedding.
Kale and I certainly weren’t opposed to premarital cohabitation on principle: both of us had lived with exes in long-term relationships before. We simply hadn’t been together long enough to move in together: we had only been dating for four months when we got engaged and got married just five weeks after that (yeah, we moved quick). Kale ending his lease in Brooklyn to move into my apartment in Queens a few days before our wedding was pure circumstance.
By cultural standards, the “getting married” part is supposed to be the huge change that occurred in my life. One minute I was filing my taxes solo and then — ba-bam! — I’m legally joined to another person by law. And to be sure, sponsoring Kale for immigration was also a significant event. But the honest truth is that the biggest change during that time, in terms of how it affected my life and how I had to adjust and grow as a person, was acquiring not just a new husband but a new roommate. Keep reading »