Today, I’m getting married—legally married, that is. Although we won’t consider this our ‘real wedding’ or our anniversary, it’s the one that the government considers real. After today, we’ll be legally bound, and only 16 days before we leave for Aruba.
It’s an interesting space we’ll be in for those 16 days. An in-between state. Getting a jump-start on paperwork like health insurance, but not yet exchanging our wedding rings. Married in the eyes of the law, but not really our own.
Today, no one will attend our ceremony except for a good friend who is performing it. It’s intimate and personal. Just ours.
In Aruba, we’ll be surrounded by 50 of our closest friends and family for a three-day extravaganza that ends with an elaborate sunset ceremony at the beach, followed by an exceptional three-course meal at my favorite restaurant on the island.
Naturally, this has been one of the busiest weeks I’ve had all year. And none of it had anything to do with the wedding. The time I had planned to process and get ready was eaten up by work projects and mishaps that seemingly came out of nowhere. And now the day is here.
I told my therapist yesterday that our 50 minutes together was pretty much my space to emotional prepare because I had no other time this week, save for 20 minutes while folding laundry, when I read sociological studies about why people get married in the modern age because—well, it’s me, and of course I did.
And it brought up a really interested question for me. Why am I getting married?
Study after study regard marriage as an outdated, archaic concept. One that has more to do with social validation than it does with love. And even those that do deal with love point to possession over connection. From days when women were literally treated as property—sold with a dowry and taking on the husband’s last name—there’s argument that much of the root of marriage is about possession. “Be mine,” so to speak.
In a modern world that’s increasingly less religious, there are few rituals to mark our journey through thresholds. Bar mitzvah or confirmation are no longer the markers of an adult. Is it now graduating high school? No wait, college? Or getting a job? Marriage is one of the few ubiquitously accepted institutions to ritualize adulthood and a ‘well-lived life.’ Studies argue that marriage is social validation that you’re a productive member of society and that your relationship is real.
But are any of those the reason I want to get married? Would my relationship be different if I weren’t married? Hell, we’ve lived together for six years, we bought a house together, and we have a dog together. Aside from legal, financial, and societal reasons, is there any reason to get married?
I told my therapist we had a tall order yesterday. We had barely half an hour to unpack all of that.
For most people, the legal, financial, social, spiritual, and romantic reasons for marriage are tied into one day. One singular event.
But because I’m getting legally married separately from my ‘actual wedding,’ it’s allowed me to pause and think. This first one is legal, financial, and probably more spiritual than my other (being on the full moon and officiated by my spiritual friend Kate).
And, I mean, sure it’s cool to get on Garrett’s health insurance as an entrepreneur. And the tax benefits seem appealing. But that’s just an a bonus. A happy coincidence.
And I do think it’s nice that society formally recognizes our relationship while married. I’m less interested in feeling socially validated a person—but that’s not terrible, either.
And I wouldn’t say I feel particular pressure from friends or family to get married. Or from myself. In fact, I was always the person who said I’d rather never get married than enter a relationship that wasn’t completely stable. I know no one can predict divorce, and I certainly don’t pretend there’s no chance of us separating, but I know I’d rather never marry than get divorced.
And I certainly have no intention of possessing Garrett or being possessed. I always tell Garrett to be honest with me. If he’s interested in someone else, I want to be the first to know. And we can talk about it and figure it out. Why would I ever want to take away someone’s agency? And I’m one of the most independent people I know, so I certainly don’t want anyone taking away mine. I want us to be together because we choose to be together every day.
And, all that being said, after just a few months together, I knew I wanted to marry Garrett. I knew I wanted to propose on a balcony on the Amalfi Coast overlooking the Mediterranean.
So why is that?
If I just wanted the legal, financial, and the social benefits of a wedding, I’d never go to Aruba. If I just wanted the party, I probably wouldn’t have put as much psychotic intention into the weekend as I have. But we did. Because the truth is there’s something different here that no study I’ve read has touched upon.
You know, I can name any restaurant in the world, and Garrett and I will have the exact same opinion about it. We can easily spot James Beard favorites because—well, that’s obvious. But we’re not the type to find the hidden gems that will one day blow up. We’re the type to find places that are true artistry that will probably never get popular enough to stay sustainable. And we obsessively beg our friends to support that chef’s art.
We care about the same causes. Hell, Garrett’s job is something I passionately championed in PR long before he even did it. In my humble opinion, it’s one of the quietest and most exciting things happening in healthcare reform—and no one knows about it. It’s literally changing the world.
Garrett’s the most beautiful person I’ve ever seen. I mean that. Really. Physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually. His level of compassion and patience is unmatched—almost to a frustrating degree. He even likes Mary Tyler Moore’s character in Ordinary People. And he never rushes me when I’m lackadaisically taking my time. He understands me. He can calm me down when I fly off the handle. He knows me.
The moment we got together, my life changed. It’s like my Soul evolution sped up. I got better from a debilitating sickness. I left PR. I started this new business. I wrote a book. All within the matter of a year and a half. Really. And it’s kept evolving from there.
I wouldn’t be writing this today if it weren’t for Garrett. I don’t think I could write this today if it weren’t for Garrett. He believes I really will change the world. That I am changing the world. That I’m powerful and important and special.
There are a million reasons I could get married. And studies bring up some interesting points about marriage’s position in our current world. But we’re kidding ourselves if we only think about this intellectually.
Because, for me, it’s about marking something. Something important. When I go to Aruba, it’s less of a party and more of an art exhibit. I’m showing my closest friends and family who I am. Who I really am. From the flowers to the music to the food. And Garrett is a huge part of who I am. I’m letting the most important people in my life see all of me for a day. To fully be a part of our lives.
And, with them, I’ll step through that threshold into a new container. One that’s fully conscious of the magnitude of our relationship. In some sense, nothing changes. We still live together, have a house together, have a dog together. But, in another sense, everything changes. We’ve crossed a threshold. And it’s a ritual to honor just how important this relationship is in my life.
Maybe for some people that honoring can happen without a ceremony. But, for me, it’s that emotional and spiritual aspect that makes a wedding—and a marriage—so necessary.
My relationship with Garrett is such a critical part of my life. It’s made me who I am today. It’s part of who I am today. And that’s why I’m marrying him.
So, wish me luck. Today, at 5pm, at sunset overlooking the skyline of Boston, I’ll marry Garrett. Legally, this time. And will get ready for our formal ceremony in a few weeks.
I’ll step over that threshold. And I know without a doubt that everything will change.