Monday, April 23, 2012

A to Z: Tying the Knot

Are you married? How old were you when you got married? Why did you get married? If you're not married, are you planning to?

Cor & I at the Taj Mahal
September 2008
Most of my same-age friends (I'm 39) are either married or single, and by single I mean they're not in a relationship. As a matter of fact, I can't think of anyone I know that isn't either of these two right now. I have some younger friends (early 30's) who aren't married but in a relationship. Most of those have been in said relationship for less than a year, and most of those relationships are still in the "going steady" stage; only very few couples (two, maybe) share households.

Whereas my dushi and I have been co-habitating for--oh, eight years.

Did we consider marriage? Yep. In 2008, when we spent a few months in India for work (how lucky are we to have done that together?), he proposed. At the Taj Mahal. And I said yes--naturally.

Why are we still legally single? Why haven't we tied the knot?

There were, uhm, logistic issues. Pig flu struck Mexico hard--we wanted to get married there. Some family issues came up, too--my family is sociopathic and psycho in too many ways to explain here, so I'll just say thank high heavens it's a small one--and the original plan to have the party at the house where I grew up fell apart.

We postponed. For a year.

Our beautiful house, 2010
And then we bought a house. The budget we'd made for the wedding (not big, sixty-some guests, no huge typical Mexican three-hundred-person affair, but unique nonetheless--we wanted to provide an experience for all the Dutch and Curaçaoan guests who'd never been to Mexico) suddenly seemed ridiculous for a party. That money could go such a long way if invested in the house--we wanted a new porch, maybe put in a pool, turn the garden into a paradise, maybe redo the kitchen.

Maybe someday we'll make the fifteen-minute drive to Kranchi, Curaçao's version of City Hall, and tie the knot, sign papers, with little ceremony and only a few of our closest friends as witnesses, for legal purposes.

There's undisputed advantages to being married--tax-wise, for example. We both live at least a day's travel from our families, so having a "legal" family member here isn't a bad idea. The issue of joint property doesn't exist for us: we always planned to marry under separate property law, and the house is the only significant asset we hold jointly, but it's already in both our names.

And we're not planning to have children. I may be old-fashioned and a backward Mexican, but I do believe marriage, when at all possible, is a prerequisite for parenthood.

So why not just get married and have it over and done with?


Scares me to death.

More than the H1N1, more than the cuckoo family, more than the ridiculous amount anything related to a wedding costs (my dress was around USD 4,000!), during the nine months or so the wedding was on, we fought. Over little things, over which things were little and which weren't, over--well, stuff so meaningless that I can't even remember it anymore. But I remember the fights. The stress, the pressure.

Mysore, August 2008
We love each other, deeply and irrevocably. We want to spend the rest of our lives together, grow old and senile and still sleep in the same bed. Laugh over the same things, have stupid arguments over the same nonsense. We are partners, lovers, best friends. And, from where we stand now, we're pretty sure that won't change.

We've gone through rough times. Epic fights, profound disagreements, the shock of realizing our life plans didn't quite match. And we survived. Sure, love conquers all, but you know what else does? Respect. And under this deep and irrevocable love, there's a solid foundation of respect that means the world to both of us.

I still wear my beautiful engagement ring. I believe that thick circle of white gold is the perfect symbol of our commitment to each other: full of hope, not obligation.

No piece of paper, no ceremony or white dress, can give us that.

But it can destroy it. Why? Because, as mature as I thought I was--I'm no wide-eyed twenty-something--as soon as there was a white dress in my future (and centerpieces and five-course menus to choose), I reverted back to should be mode.

I stopped being myself and became instead a bride-to-be. My beautiful, wonderfully quirky relationship became an engagement, and the magic of our dreams and plans acquired a social context that has no place in here.

Yeah--marriage terrifies me. Not because of marriage itself, or because of the commitment. I'm as committed to this, to him, to us, as I have ever been or ever will be to anything. No--it terrifies me because it comes with baggage--the baggage of centuries of tradition, of expectations that land with a solid thunk into your life as you slip that first (horrible, let's face it) wedding dress you try out while your girlfriends squeal outside the dressing room.

Marriage isn't for me. It's a weakness, a shortcoming. I agree--I admit it. But this beautiful thing we have, this imperfect perfection we've achieved, doesn't fit into the mold, the framework of tradition, of regulated expressions of affection, of certified-and-notarized permission to love.

Mine is a rogue relationship. Like a pioneer of the Old West, although I understand--even appreciate--the benefits of lawfulness, I know I'll start throwing longing looks at the setting sun over the horizon as soon as this town gets a sheriff and a court.


  1. Thanks again for the interesting post. It was interesting, the year after my husband and I got married, we stopped fighting about big things, but found ourselves arguing about trivial items (and I do mean trivial). We got married in a courthouse, which was the right way for us, and had a party later. I think sometimes people get too caught up in the wedding, and don't think about the commitment enough. Sounds like you know yourself well.

    1. Thanks for the visit, Janna, and for sharing your experience. I agree about getting caught up in wedding and forgetting about the *marriage* (i.e., the commitment, like you said). I always thought I wouldn't, that I was too cynical for that... But, alas, there I was--bridezilla :( LOL.

  2. I'd say you two should just elope and take a honeymoon in Toronto, Canada to get it over with. :P

    (I'm currently single, by the way. With my dating luck, I'll probably remain a spinster who will collect 14 cats despite her allergies towards cats.)

    -Barb the French Bean

    1. Toronto as a honeymoon--yeah, I can live with that :D We actually *did* go on our "honeymoon"--Cor's two brothers had already booked their tickets to Mexico, so we decided to bring some friends along and join them for two weeks in Cancun and Mexico City. It was the absolute best honeymoon ever--we had a blast :) But, hey, I'm open to seconds in Toronto :D

  3. I would describe myself as a very commitment-phobic person, so it surprised a lot of people to know I married at age 23, to a boy I knew from high school (we didn't date then).

    He was the eldest child in his Italian/Welsh family, I was the youngest in my Irish/Scottish family. I didn't mind the marriage part, 'cause we had a relationship much like yours is described, but the wedding... I couldn't handle and didn't want and never had any floaty-white-bride-dreams or desires for 2.5 kids & the white picket fence... so I left the entire thing for my mom and elder sister to plan. My mom-in-law & sis-in-law had some input too. Surprisingly, they compromised on what was most important to them... met mom's choice of chapel, my mom-in-law's choice of reception hall (the Italian Cultural Centre)

    The only thing I picked out was the dress (and I think I only tried on 3) and I said I wanted the flowers to be asymmetrical with lots of green sticking out at odd angles. Everything else was handled without me, which was perfect.

    My favourite photo of the event was one of my dad walking me down the aisle... and I look like I'm about to barf or bolt... or both (which I was seriously considering)

    In the end, I'm glad I did *the event* because it was one of the few chances that my entire extended family (and the husband's) all gathered together in the same place and just ate, drank, danced and had a really good time.

    As for the pressures of marriage itself, kids & what-all... my elder sister has a child, so does my sis-in-law. The husband and I travel when we want, have a dog & cat we can leave at the kennel, and just enjoy life together as a partnership.

    So it's all good :) Though I know I would never have married if it wasn't that particular guy.

  4. I'm getting married in two months. We've only been planning for a month, but I think having less time to do it all in is going to be less stressful in the long run just because there is less time to worry about all the details and argue about them. At least I hope.

  5. "Money" = the only post-wedding disagreements we've ever had. She won. I stopped trying to balance the checkbook.

    But I like being married. Or, I like being married because I married the right person. But she'd be the right person whether we were married or not.

  6. My significant other and I have been technically engaged for sixteen years now. We have no wedding set and we're not planning on setting one either. It drives our families crazy but it works for us. We're happy and that's what's really important.

  7. I think you do whatever makes you both happy.I've been married for 34yrs but we married back in the day when you didn't co habit you lft home and got married. I had a white dress but not a huge wedding we couldn't afford it.
    If you have any hesitations don't do it as long as you're protected by law for any money or property you both have. If you want to be married without the months of planning or fuss then just go and do it on your own. Whatever you do, do it because you want to happy.

  8. Love the coffee cartoon (from a happily married reader)!

  9. I'm with you. I've been with my current partner for almost eight years. We're not "make it official" people. We're "make every day count" people.

    A-Z @ Elizabeth Twist

  10. Very interesting post! My husband and I cohabitated for nine years before we got married. And when we did get married, we did it in the backyard, just us, the clerk who married us, and both sets of parents. Then we ate BBQ trout and sweet potatoes and ate an entire cake between the six of us. There's a difference between a marriage and a wedding! I think that planning a giant wedding, with a party and a white dress and speeches, would have turned me into a snotty, nagging mess.

  11. Maybe some day you will have a rogue wedding...or not. Cool either way. Thanks for a moving post!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...