When my partner and I went to the county clerk’s office to get our marriage license, the clerk asked us, “Do you want to be referred to as spouse and spouse, or bride and bride?”
“Bride and Bride,” I said to the clerk, and my partner, Andrea, nodded in agreement. It had taken a while, but I was getting used to the idea of being a bride with a bride.
And now I’m getting used to being a wife with a wife. We’ve been married for a few weeks now and I’m still getting used to the idea that we are family now. I love it, but I’m still getting used to how different it feels. I’m guessing that most newlyweds go through their version of this.
While on our honeymoon, Andrea made me a wonderful lunch while I was deeply focused on a project (organizing our honeymoon pictures, I think) and forgetting to feed myself. When she brought lunch to me, I said, “Awwwww, you’re the best…” and I realized I was about to call her my girlfriend.
I caught myself and got it right by saying instead, “You’re the best wife ever.”
She did the same thing a couple days later as we were out and about, getting ready to go horseback riding among the red rocks of a Colorado canyon. She said, “You’re the best wife ever.” She paused and added, “I was about to call you my girlfriend.”
“I know,” I replied, smiling. “I did the same thing last week!”
Getting married has changed things for me. It does feel different than simply making a personal pledge to be committed to someone. And although the “girlfriend” and “wife” labels might seem like superficial matters, they have deep and real repercussions in what they represent.
We’re not just “staying together.” We are family now. Many gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people have been and are family to each other, even without marriage. You can be married in your hearts–I know this from experience.
But when culture, communities, and the general public reflect, affirm, and expect you to be family, it has an emotional impact. I wish I had better words for this, but I don’t yet.
I wonder if any of you, my readers, have any thoughts about this? How does marriage change relationships?