Long, long ago, back when I was much more innocent and in my late teens, the topic of marriage often came up with my peers. We’d outgrown Barbie and her wedding gowns, but…we now imagined our own weddings and what we’d wear.
I said I wanted to get married in overalls and a flannel shirt.
Now my friends would giggle, thinking I was just illustrating my own aversion to dresses and dressing up, but it was really far deeper than that. It was even deeper than my own issues with gender identification. It was actually a very deep and heartfelt comment, not about attire so much as what I wanted from anyone I’d marry.
I wanted to be accepted for who I was, not simply judged as deficient for who I was not. Sure, I didn’t want to wear makeup, fuss over my hair, or wear ruffles and lace, but it was so much more than that. I wanted to be able to explore who I was without fears about being judged by the one person that I needed to count on as believing in me.
It wasn’t an easy search either, no matter how simple it sounds. I dated a lot of guys who thought I was cute and sexy, then immediately started working on changing who I was and how I dressed and acted. I even tried it, more than once.
They didn’t like who I became, and I didn’t like who I was pretending to be
Society in general kept trying to shove me into a pigeon hole, one that I was ill fitted to fill, as well as one that was excessively confining. I gradually began to define my own parameters. I certainly was not able to conform, long before I discovered the term “gender non-conformist” as a comfortable label.
My first marriage was a disaster, although it was one that looked quite pretty from the outside, I suppose. I wasn’t anything he wanted, apparently. I certainly did not fit his ideal of a woman or a wife. Obviously, that came to an end, with far more drama than I liked as well. Some things are just like that.
I then resumed the dating game, somewhat changed. I was in a whole new phase of my life, and my dating tactics showed it. I even used dating websites, both for research and for actual personal relationships. I learned a whole lot from that too.
Eventually, my best friend and I decided to get engaged. We started that off by living together for several years, telling ourselves that we couldn’t afford to get married. One day, we realized that if we waited until we could “afford” marriage, we’d likely both be in nursing homes!
So, we planned a wedding. I had a goal. We were to have a wedding that cost less than $200 and we could still entertain our friends and family. That price tag was for everything: food, wedding cake, marriage license, blood tests, wedding rings, official to officiate, venue, food for guests, and honeymoon.
Nobody thought we could do it, and we almost did it. We had a last minute glitch—the friend, who was an ordained minister, who had been going to officiate, could not actually attend, as her mother became critically ill. With a frantic search for someone at the last minute, we went over our budget—I was not in the mood to negotiate for rates. We got a minister who was nearly perfect, and for that I was grateful enough to not mind that it was the “over $200” portion of the wedding bill.
We had a beach wedding under a pavilion at a fishing pier, complete with restrooms and parking…for free. (Check out the public pier at Waveland, MS in Hancock county—it’s the only county that is dog friendly at the beach too!) Our dogs could attend.
We had DIY wedding outfits for our hippy themed wedding. Tie dyed matching t-shirts for us to wear as well as our granddaughter, our micro-sized “flower girl”. (She was just over a year old then.) Friends brought chairs and portable tables. My mother cooked the pulled pork for sandwiches with my daughter’s help. My daughter made the wedding cake. Friends brought some food, and I even cooked pasta salad and baked beans.
We went camping, to Tishomingo State Park in northern Mississippi for our honeymoon, which was short but very nice. I’d always wanted to visit that state park, and it was drop dead gorgeous despite rainy and cold weather.
And what did that all illustrate?
I married a man who married all of me. Not the pretty part, or the money-making part, or the creative part, or the motherly part…but all of me, good and bad, nice and mean. He accepted me as I was, without feeling a need to work on changing me. He doesn’t even gripe (too much, anyhow) about my messiness or aversion to closing cupboard doors while cooking. He married me after my accident that completely redefined what I could or could not do.
Of course, I reciprocate. I know he hates mornings, that he can’t braid my hair for me, that he hates my hummus, no matter how I make it. I know he is going to rant about something for the first hour he’s up in the morning and that he swears loudly whenever he works on something. I know I’m going to trip over his shoes, as well as that there are certain things I have to nag about to make sure they get done. That’s okay. I adore him most of the time and still love him even when he has me madder than a hornet.
That’s a good relationship. It’s built on mutual respect, seasoned with a dash of admiration for the other’s qualities, with a big dollop of humor to deal with their deficiencies.
That’s because nobody is perfect. I’ll guarantee if you DO see someone as being perfect, either you are looking through rose tinted glasses or something else isn’t right, because everyone has weaknesses and flaws. The best we can do is find out whether or not we can accept those flaws with the rest of the package.
Thankfully, we can.
Our wedding attire, while some would claim that we lacked reverence for the vows we were making, was chosen for specific reasons. Neither of us saw any reason to spend an inordinate amount of money on clothing for one single occasion, regardless of where it was held. We also saw no reason, in the light of a struggling economy, to encourage our friends and family to buy dress clothes for an occasion that would not benefit them later. A hippy theme meant that nobody needed to buy anything, although we did buy the t-shirts and dye to do our own matching shirts. I also bought the fabric for my rainbow veil, along with the tie dyed bandanas that completed our head gear.
Neither of us was young, and we had no one to impress. We wanted everyone to have fun and have fun celebrating a very special day with us, as we publicly announced our relationship as permanent. Our commitment to each other had been made long before, and the day was signifying a legal agreement more than our commitment. Laws don’t recognize personal commitments, but they do recognize a marriage license.
Greg and I were marrying each other’s whole self, including the self that thought of others, of budgets, of costs, and of sharing fun and laughter. That whole self is something that we feel comfortable sharing, both the good and the bad, the fun and the not-very-fun-at-all, along with the whole in sickness and in health. He’s been my one man cheering team when I didn’t think I could make it through the next hour, let alone my allotted lifetime. He’s been there when I released a novel and other books. He’s also been there when I have been sick, shaking and crying from the pain. I’ve been there when he’s been sick too, and I was there when he needed to go to the hospital with his heart attack. Sure, we get aggravated with each other. We spend far more time together than most couples, and there are times when we start to rub each other the wrong way. We’ve learned how to manage that too.
It’s not easy sometimes. We’ve had some times when we really didn’t like each other much, but thankfully, we moved past those successfully. We have to work at keeping our relationship healthy, just like all couples do.
I’m glad we do.
But sometimes, I’d be glad if he finally got around to some of the things on the honey-do list, like FINALLY putting that new bed together or fixing that overhang by the back door.
He’d probably be glad if I finally got things put away, and figured out an effective pseudo pantry. Or the Good Housekeeping Fairy showed up–I don’t think he is picky about who gets things done. He might be glad if I finally forgot to refer to the time when I came home after an overnight trip and he greeted me with “can you cook me a hamburger?” instead of a kiss and “Glad to see you, I missed you.”
He might be glad when I finally quit coming up with wild schemes that make Lucille Ball look like she never came up with insane ideas…even though hers were theatrical and mine are real-life schemes. (I’m just glad that he never does the Desi Arnez mimic thing.)
But it is really great to have been so very wrong about my own life, even while I was very right about some other things about it. I’m glad I get to share each and every day with my best friend. I just wish that everyone was so lucky.
Just don’t ever think that our relationship is perfect. It’s not. We both came with baggage and issues and quirks and fears and relatives and hopes and dreams and flaws too. We work at gluing it all together all the time, and then, something will come along and throw a wrench in our plans and we get to frantically re-assemble everything with another liberal dose of glue.
I still love him. Best of all, he loves all of me. Even when I’m fat, sick, grumpy, gray, wrinkled, hairy in the wrong places, my feet hurt, and I’m whining about something.
That’s pretty cool, don’t you think?