Once more, with feeling
Perhaps I may be indulged if I were to post once more about marriage equality and my own wedding? After this I’ll move on to something else to talk about. (I promise.)
So the Better Half and I got married this past weekend. Again. To each other. Without any interruption in our relationship in the intervening years.
The first time was almost exactly eight years before the second time. (Many guests at our recent celebration joked that they will pencil in another one eight years from now.) It looked pretty much how one would expect a wedding to look. We wore tuxes. (I now regret the choice to go with tails.) We had it in a church (the same one both times, actually) and exchanged vows in front of a big crowd of loved ones and well-wishers. We had rings made (the same ones we wore this time). We had a reception and cake. Etc.
Indeed, I have considered myself married since then. We meant the vows we spoke then and have since lived the best life together that we could build. If not for the newly-granted legal protections, we would have seen no need for a second event at all.
People have asked us if it felt different this time. And the answer is, without a doubt, yes. Yes, it feels very different.
Perhaps it is that we now have so much more to cherish and protect. After all, we have two kids. Our lives are so intertwined after a decade of being in relationship that I can scarcely think of anything we don’t share to some degree. (Well, OK… this blog, for one.) We’ve searched for jobs and homes and childcare together. We know what it is that we’re promising to do in a way that we couldn’t have known back then.
Perhaps it is that there were people present this time who declined to join us the first go-round. We have worked hard to foster good relationships with family members who were once notably averse to the idea of our relationship (to say nothing of a ceremony publicly celebrating it), such that those fears and reservations have eroded, though not entirely and not uniformly. It was incredibly meaningful to have so many more family members with us this time.
I have no doubt that those factors played a large role in making our wedding feel so much weightier this time. But they’re not all.
This time felt more meaningful because it was more meaningful. It felt weightier because it was weightier. I didn’t cry the first time and I must admit I did this past weekend, because there was simply much more to react to.
When we were married before, we made vows and commitments that were valuable only insofar as we asserted that they were. We were married only in the eyes of those who chose to view our relationship the way we wanted them to. Our promises to each other granted us nothing more than what we were willing to provide for ourselves.
Now we have been granted access to a shared understanding of what our marriage means. Our promises come with a commonly-understood set of rights and obligations. While we promised to meet those obligations (and have done) before, now they are bound to us in a way that they weren’t until we made those promises again. Now we have a legitimate claim to what everyone else has beyond our own insistence.
I am so glad we had our ceremony eight years ago. It meant so much to take those vows and to enjoy the love and good wishes of friends and family. If I could go back in time knowing what I know now, I wouldn’t change a thing. But it meant so much more this time, and the difference feels wonderful.