The equality movement is chugging along like a freight train with the lights on and the horn blaring. Living in the south, we are well aware that our home state is resisting change and pushing back with anti-gay legislation. After becoming a brand new family of three, waiting for marriage equality in Tennessee had become less desirable and frustrating. I have always joked about shotgun weddings, but I believe there is some subconscious thought process after a child is on the way that made us both start to plan the “official” happily ever after.
A date was set while both Matthew and I were on paternity leave. The three of us would travel to Washington, DC for the time needed to apply for a marriage license, the three-day wait period and the actual ceremony. We carefully debated the idea of inviting our parents, but after the adoption process that was still ongoing, our new little family will be the only ones participating in a very private ceremony. I am sure there are many of you that can relate with me on this, the adoption process is very open and public. You are constantly networking in an effort to reach potential expecting mothers who are considering adoption for their unborn child. Our previous 14 months had been a frenzy of emotions and exhaustion and this was our chance to share a special moment without the worry of planning, catering, hotels and everyone commuting seven hours to the nation’s capital.
Our marriage trip was spectacular. The decision to have a private ceremony as a family was the perfect way to celebrate and enter into this life long commitment. Words cannot describe this beautiful day that will forever be imprinted in my mind. The weather was phenomenal. Harper looked beautiful in her white dress. Yes, someone had to be in a white dress. Instead of a wedding cake, we celebrated with a street vendor hot dog. Our wedding was one of a kind!
Our Mini Wedding Album
There are several things that I learned on our journey to marriage and parenthood. The majority of people support equality. A large majority! We were very concerned with possible reactions that we might receive when applying for a marriage license. Everyone was spectacular and Harper stole the show. Living in Tennessee, we have been beyond surprised by the outpouring of support and encouragement from our community. This experience was very moving for both of us and we are optimistic about full equality, even in the south, as days pass by.
People consider our relationship as newlyweds and think it is a fairly new commitment. We have now been married for almost six months, and our lives technically are no different from before. Matthew and I would have married years ago if it were not for discriminatory laws in Tennessee. It seems like we hear the word commitment a lot. “Marriage is a huge commitment” and “We are excited for your commitment.” The truth is, our commitment started six years ago. March 11, 2008 we made our commitment to each other. The major difference is the lack of commitment many states have towards their citizens and recognizing their commitment to marriage equality.
By Rob Watson
To hear the anti-gay crowd describe it, the concept of “family” is a narrow one. While claiming it to be “traditional,” their idea of family seems to be Adam and Eve stepping out of the Garden of Eden and right into a 50s-era sitcom. Eve sports pearls around her neck and an oh-so tasteful house frock, and Adam a cardigan sweater and a pipe. There are no elders, they were born of dust and rib bones. Cain and Abel morph into rambunctious kids with a dog, and life is ideal.
Some businesses go so far as to try to monetarily reward “classic TV” families over other families, as Karen Lee-Dufell of Jacksonville, Florida, recently experienced. In renewing her family’s museum membership, she was informed that they did not qualify. Her spouse had the “wrong” anatomy.
If we are going to define our “family values” by television depictions, I would prefer an even more traditional one—a family of the 1930s, The Waltons. There were no pearls and pipes for this clan. There were a core married couple, a pair of grandparents, and a gaggle of kids. The couple were both parents and kids, living with their children and their parents under one roof.
That is a more accurate depiction of the life my partner, Jim, and I are experiencing these days. We are in the process of adopting my 86- and 88-year-old parents. In our family, while parents to my sons, we are also . . . “the kids.”
So often in our discussions of marriage equality we focus on the relationship of same-sex parents and children. We have been studied, lied about, maligned, and praised. We in many cases are also the cement that supports an older generation, and our marriages have value as part of that family foundation, a reality that is often ignored.
I am not ignoring it any longer. It started two years ago when I was out with my dad, the former marine colonel, and I realized that he had no clue what his AAA roadside emergency card was for. Since that time, he has been on a continuous decline, to the point that he often forgets where the kitchen is, and looks instead for the dog that passed away decades ago.
My father’s decline has laid bare a fallacy about the benefits of the “traditional” marriage and its cut-and-dried roles. My dad has filled what many might consider the pure “husband” role—bread winner, finance master, driver, and pathfinder. My mother had been the archetypal “wife”—cook, homemaker, decorator, holiday planner, and hearth keeper. These parts have been played to perfection for sixty years. The downside is that when one of the partners in this scenario is suddenly MIA, the function of the other one is threatened.
That is the case for my mother. She feels as unprotected and vulnerable as my dad is lost.
It is time for the “kids” to take over. In our family, this is not a problem. Jim and I are there, as are my sister and her husband. We are not backing down and we do not hesitate in our resolve to make the final years of our folks’ lives comfortable and happy.
To that end, I have had to move my parents from the distant home they have occupied for thirty years, and move them to a closer, but equally familiar, location that is safer and in better proximity for Jim and me to care for them. This last weekend was a purge through a lifetime of accumulation, streamlining, and, ultimately, freeing them from worry.
There were some enlightening moments, too. My sister and I walked through much of our family’s history, including letters of my parents (read by permission). One such letter highlighted the deep soul mate, best-friend core to my parents’ relationship. My father was stationed in New Mexico for a short while, and wrote to express his longing for my mother. They had been married for 13 years at that point. He also talked about me, a happy 5-year-old. He outlined his plan to write to me, using postcards that were more visual and he hoped more interesting. He also wanted my mother to send him an outline of my foot. He saw the local wares and the unique moccasins that were for sale. He wanted to get me a pair and needed the perfect fit.
I sat back and reflected on that young couple and the family in the letter. That family was not based on gender; it was based on love, care, and an earnest desire to be with one another.
We are still that way, although all the roles are reversed. I am now the guide, the finance master, the pathfinder. Jim has stepped up as the support, homemaker, and confidant. We are parenting our elderly. In terms of our marriage, what gender we both are, and how well we “model” caring for our loved ones, matters about as much in terms of our parents as it does in terms of raising my sons: not at all. From a moral and legal standpoint, Jim needs to be viewed as the family member that he in fact is. There may be situations and hospital visits in our future; we need his participation, and he has the right not to be questioned on the legitimacy of his presence.
My parents’ old dwelling is now empty. Everything of value, including them, is on its way to their cozy new home near us. My sister will deliver them next week after Jim and I have set up and arranged their new household.
Yesterday, I hugged my dad goodbye with a “see you soon.” As I held him, he transformed in my arms from the slightly scared, disoriented, frail adult child back into my daddy. In that moment, he was the young marine who took the time to plan postcards for me, his 5-year-old little boy.
This time, it is just my turn to make sure that his moccasins fit.
By: Jason Howe
Ding dong the witch is dead!
What does it feel like to be like everyone else?
Well, the crew from Telemundo just left. My mother is happily tearing up in the living room as her beloved CNN devotes wall-to-wall coverage to the Supreme Court’s death blow – or rather, its refusal to grant a stay of execution – to Proposition 8. Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council is already telling the network that “this isn’t over.”
But it is.
My home state has ended an embarrassing chapter in its history and regained its place as the second state to recognize the equality of all its families, not to mention its reputation as a generally good place if you value civil rights. The Defense of Marriage Act is dead. “Love is love,” the president just tweeted. The Supreme Court has ruled 5-4 that:
DOMA’s principal effect is to identify a subset of state sanctioned marriages and make them unequal. The principal purpose is to impose inequality, not for other reasons like governmental efficiency. Responsibilities, as well as rights, enhance the dignity and integrity of the person. And DOMA contrives to deprive some couples married under the laws of their State, but not other couples, of both rights and responsibilities.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a better illustration of DOMA’s malice than Edie Windsor, the plaintiff in United States vs. Windsor. After four decades with her spouse Thea Spyer, after caring for Spyer as she progressively lost her battle with multiple sclerosis, Windsor was presented with a six-figure inheritance tax bill as a condolence from the federal government on Speyer’s death. The Court found that Section 3 of DOMA, saying that the federal government would recognize a marriage contracted between a man and a woman, “violates basic due process and equal protection principles applicable to the Federal Government.”
The 5-4 vote was no surprise, with Justice Anthony Kennedy siding, as expected, with the Court’s liberal wing. Not only was Kennedy’s opinion in Lawrence v. Texas, overturning remaining state sodomy laws, key to the case against Prop 8, but the Court appears to have carefully chosen today to announce its rulings. It’s ten years to the day the Court ruled on Lawrence and forever changed the landscape of LGBT rights in the United States. Jon Davidson of Lambda Legal helped present that case to the Court:
Exactly 10 years ago today, the Supreme Court issued a historic ruling striking down state laws that branded gay people as criminals. Today, it once again struck down a law passed by legislators who sat in moral judgment against LGBT people, this time condemning them in the eyes of the entire nation. DOMA was unconstitutional when Congress wrote it and, with today’s ruling, its bruising hand has been lifted.
It seems so obvious, and while it seems like it took too long, this day came remarkably quickly – just sixty years plus change since the formation of the Mattachine Society – and its subsequent investigation by the FBI. Many lesbians and gay men still alive today remember what it was like to hide or face alienation or arrest. The rapid progress we’ve made – mostly just within my lifetime – is something to remember as you celebrate.
What does it feel like to be like everyone else? As I write this, I can hear my daughter Clara squealing from her high chair in the kitchen as Papá tells her not to plaster herself with yogurt. I hear the painters scraping the trim outside my window as our remodel enters its final phase. Mockingbirds, the whoosh of traffic on the Ventura Freeway – and the television still blaring from the living room that everything has changed.
By: Jason Howe
Sometimes the question pounces from the most unexpected directions.
I was sitting in our daughters’ playpen, reading “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” for the third time that day. That’s when our nanny sprung it on me: “Are you the father and Adrián is the mother?” she asked. She’d worked for us for nearly a year and should have known better, but then again, we’re her first exposure to a same-sex headed family. While I couldn’t help laughing a little, I patiently explained that, no, our twin daughters had two daddies but that we both do “mommy” things, too: things like changing diapers, making sure they don’t starve, wiping tears, and, you know, generally acting as if we love them.
But what about the man at the antiques shop who asked outright “where’s the mommy” even though he saw us both together with the girls and surely, in a city like Los Angeles, already knew the answer? Or the well-intentioned Lufthansa flight attendant who asked me, baby in lap, about my wife, even though my husband and other daughter were sitting right across the aisle in 26g? It seems that even the most liberal of people don’t realize the rigidity of their assumptions about family and gender roles until they see two men pushing a stroller together. Who does the girls’ pony tails and soothes boo-boos? Who is the strong, stalwart presence protecting the family from harm?
I hate to break it to the “every child needs a mommy and a daddy” camp, but we both are. And you know what? So are mommies and daddies in countless heterosexual families. Lots of straight mommies know how to change carburetors and lots of straight daddies bake a killer chocolate chip cookie.
Of all the arguments in the once-mighty arsenal of opponents of marriage equality, one of the most durable – and galling – has been “what about the children?”; the idea that allowing two men or two women to wed would somehow deprive children of a mother or a father. While other arguments – that marriage for same-sex couples would lead to man-hamster marriage, dissolve heterosexual marriages, or would lead John Deere to paint tractors in a sassy rainbow instead of green – have gradually been ridiculed into obscurity, “what about the children” made it all the way to oral arguments at the Supreme Court.
Children also featured prominently in the opening brief filed by proponents of Prop 8:
Proposition 8 thus plainly bears a close and direct relationship to society’s interest in increasing the likelihood that children will be born to and raised by the mothers and fathers who brought them into the world in stable and enduring family units.
The US Council of Catholic Bishops filed an amicus brief in Windsor v. United States, the challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), saying that:
“the People of California could reasonably conclude that a home with a mother and a father is the optimal environment for raising children, an ideal that Proposition 8 encourages and promotes. Given both the unique capacity for reproduction and unique value of homes with a mother and father, it is reasonable for a State to treat the union of one man and one woman as having a public value that is absent from other intimate interpersonal relationships.”
As if California didn’t already allow gay and lesbian couples to adopt. As if my daughters – born via a surrogate – would exist if my husband and I hadn’t planned and desired them into being. And as if every reputable study hadn’t found same-sex parents just as – if not more – capable than their heterosexual counterparts.
“It has always struck me as a illogical argument that scapegoats gay people for the fact that many heterosexuals already have children outside of marriage,” said Jon Davidson, legal director of Lambda Legal. “And, if having children outside of marriage is such a bad thing, then why not allow same-sex couples to have their children within a marriage? Aren’t those really the only children that will be affected by whether same-sex couples are allowed to marry or not?”
Indeed, as Justice Anthony Kennedy noted in Prop 8 oral arguments, those children are the only ones suffering a palpable legal harm from the inability of their parents to marry. And those claims that allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry would somehow be like peeing in the big pool of matrimony, thereby making marriage less special and discouraging heteros from marrying? While a simple roll of the eyes or even a guffaw are response enough, a study published last week by two Oregon researchers examined marriage rates in all 50 states over a 20-year period. You can likely guess the conclusion they reached: “Such claims do not appear credible in the face of the existing evidence, and we conclude that rates of opposite sex marriages are not affected by legalization of same sex civil unions or same sex marriages.”
As we count down the final days to a ruling, keep in mind a win could take several permutations. “We will have to see what the Court actually rules,” said Davidson, “but there is no question that wins in both cases will be historic and lead to more weddings and more same-sex couples and their children being protected against tragedies and hardships in the same ways as married different-sex couples are.”
But something else is also beyond question – while a loss at the Supreme Court may prolong the battle for the full protection and inclusion of same-sex families, any victory for backers of Prop 8 and DOMA will be a pyrrhic one. One by one, their arguments have been exposed as falsehoods and have no power as American society moves towards full acceptance of LGBT rights. Their arsenal is empty.
By: Joseph Uva Enoch
Today has been an emotional day for me. I see Red fly high on Facebook with updates on Marriage Equality being heard at the Supreme Court. I’ve had co-workers come up and ask me about my feelings, while seeing pictures around my desk of my partner and our daughter. Trevor making an Equality picture with us and our daughter on it, our small but beautiful family. A tough fight comes with great reward. I have faith that history will prove equality matters. Our daughter sees the love of her parents and some day she will read how that path for so many was not easy, but she will never doubt our love for each other.
To our family and friends who have stood by my side, our side, accepted our family and did so while many others dismiss us as something different, bad, or wrong….. I say thank you from the deepest part of my heart. You all have become our rock, the place we can rest, knowing that our love and family are important, beautifully accepted with love and respect.
The fight for Love is never wasted, it will always win!
By Kelly Rummelhart
For years I have been an ally to the gay community. I can’t really even put a date on it but I remember always thinking that gay men and women should have the same rights as everyone else. I remember not understanding, back in 2000, why people would vote yes for Prop 22. Even back then, the year I was able to get legally married in the state of California, I remember thinking how could voters single out one group for discrimination? It made no sense to me.
Years later it would be Prop 8 and I then had to explain to my three children why some people, including several family friends, could not get legally married simply because who they loved just happened to be the same gender. It still didn’t make sense and it certainly didn’t make sense to my children.
You see, my children have been raised since Day One with the knowledge that everyone is equal. I made it one of my missions as a parent to educate my children on the fact that we are all different, but that is what makes us great. We are a world full of different religions, cultures, races, sexual orientations, genders, abilities, etc. but that we are all capable of love and respect and should be celebrated. The fact that my young children don’t understand why some of their friends’ parents can’t get married because they are both men or both women, is proof that I succeeded.
When I took my first NOH8 picture back in 2010, while I was a gestational surrogate for a set of twins for two men, I was protesting a few things. Mainly, the fact that the fathers of the babies I was carrying, who loved each other greatly, who decided to create a family, couldn’t get legally married if they wanted . . . and that is a problem.
In the summer of 2012, NOH8 was in Sacramento and I had just given birth to my final surrogate baby weeks early (for another gay couple), so I took my children with me to pose. Even though I wasn’t OUT to them yet, we were protesting the fact that their friends’ parents STILL couldn’t get married (unbeknownst to them, their own mom wouldn’t be able to either). A few friends of mine, gay and straight, posed with their children too and when the pictures were ready, we posted them on Facebook and got a lot of positive feedback. However, I also heard from one person that they (and others apparently) thought I was using my children for my own political agenda. I laughed knowing that if they asked my kids, “Do you want Katie and Brandon’s mom to be able to marry her girlfriend? Do you want George and Sanj’s marriage to be honored here? Do you want Caitlyn and Wilma’s marriage to be “real”?” They would answer yes, because they do. They want those things for their friends and family members and I bet, in the future, they would want that for themselves too, if they ended up not being straight.
It’s such a simple concept to teach to a child and they get it; how do adults not? That’s the funny thing about inequality, unless it’s your rights being violated, it’s easy not to care. I think to myself, years from now, when the LGBT community can get married everywhere, will those who fought so furiously to stop it, see themselves like the racists of the past that fought interracial marriage? Will it be their photo in a textbook holding up their Hateful sign that children will scoff at and not even be able to imagine a time when that type of inequality was possible?
Sometimes I wonder if I have fought so hard for years for the LGBT community because deep down I knew I was apart of it? At the same time I am a bit saddened thinking that maybe I wasn’t an awesome ally for the same reason . . . but then I think, regardless, even before I figured out my own sexuality, that I have always thought people should be able to marry whom they love, regardless of gender, sexuality, race, etc.
And so here we are in March, with a big decision about to be handed down. And I hope with all my heart, that the few adults that make up the Supreme Court will understand what my three young children have had no problem accepting . . . that all people should be created equal, including their mother.
By Shannon Ralph
Reason #5: The push and the pull.
Marriage is all about give and take. Compromise. Push and pull. Gay and lesbian marriages are no different. Ruanita gives. I take. I push her. She pulls me. This push and pull dynamic is apparent in many aspects of our everyday life.
- We do not have cable. This is absolutely the direct effect of Ruanita’s pull being a wee bit stronger than my push. I have pushed this issue for years. I have begged for cable. I have whined for cable. I have stomped my foot and demanded cable. As any intelligent adult knows, anything and everything of value in television today is on cable. Game of Thrones. Homeland. Boardwalk Empire. Here Comes Honey Boo-Boo. Unfortunately, my desire to watch Pawn Stars is simply no match for Ruanita’s desire to cling to her cash. Therefore, we do not have cable.
- We have three children. I admit that this one is entirely on me. Ruanita was content with one child, but I pushed and pushed until I won her over. “Lucas doesn’t need to be an only child.” “Everyone needs a brother or sister.” “Two is the perfect number.” “I want to experience the joy of childbirth.” Yea, what the hell was I thinking? Secretly, I would happily have six children. Ruanita wanted one, reluctantly agreed to two, and ended up with three. I don’t think even my stellar pushing skills can budge her even one more inch. We are done.
- We have a dog. Again, this one is on me. I wanted a dog. I thought our children should grow up with a pet. Now we are the proud owners of a completely dead lawn, numerous disemboweled stuffed animals, and a pungent aroma that permeates every crevice of our home. But am I content with all of this loveliness? No. I am actually pushing Ruanita to get another dog. A dog needs a BFF, right? Luckily, she is pulling harder than I am pushing at this time.
- I do not own an iPad. In all honestly, I do not need an iPad. I have a smartphone. I have a laptop. Actually, I have two laptops. I have a Nook. I have an iPod. What could I possibly do on an iPad that I cannot already do on any one of the other assorted electronics I own? Nothing. But, being a master pusher, it does not matter. I want an iPad. I think that I need an iPad. I am pushing Ruanita to buy me an iPad. As of yet, I have been unsuccessful. The $600 price tag and her complete lack of appreciation for any and all electronic devices (did I mention she still carries a little flip-style cell phone that is older than all of my children combined?) is causing Ruanita to pull. And pull. And pull some more. I simply do not see an iPad in my future unless one of my loyal readers—overcome with a sense of compassion for my plight—surprises me with one. I’m not holding my breath, however.
As you may have garnered from this list, I am typically the pusher in my marriage and Ruanita is the puller. I push her toward ridiculous, fanciful, often farcical ideas. She pulls me toward non-movement and stagnation. Somehow we meet in the middle. We compromise. We both give a little. As a result, we have a lovely home instead of a mini mansion we can’t afford or a rent-controlled hovel in the hood. We have three happy children instead of an out-of-control brood or one child that we managed to turn freakishly weird with our undivided attention. We have one pet instead of a menagerie to rival any metropolitan zoo. We don’t have cable, but we also don’t spend 90% of our lives staring at the television with drool forming at the corners of our mouths. And we still have Downton Abbey, so not all is lost.
The push and the pull is one more way that my marriage is just like your marriage.
By: Shannon Ralph
Reason #8: The ugly cry.
There are few people in this world who we allow to see ourselves at our very worst. For the most part, we try to put on a happy front. A dignified mask. We want the world to see us as confident. And capable. We want people to think we have our shit together. That we aren’t afraid. That we aren’t neurotic. That we don’t make stupid decisions. That we don’t question our own abilities on a daily basis. That we are better than all those losers out there who can’t seem to manage their own lives.
It can be pretty damn exhausting to keep up this façade.
When you are married, however, there is always one person who knows the truth. There is always one person who sees you for what you really are. There is always one person who knows that you snore. And that you get bitchy when you are tired. And that you ignore your children at times. That you are often selfish. That you feel guilty about every decision you have ever made in your life. There is one person who sees all of your ugly little neuroses. There is one person who sees you.
Ruanita has seen me at my worst. She has seen me cry. Some people cry these cute little sobs. They whimper silently. With tiny little sniffles. Blotting at their eyes with tissues. When these people cry, you feel an overwhelming desire to protect them. To wrap your arms around them and shield them from anything and everything that will ever cause them sorrow. Anything and everything that will ever cause them to make those pitiful little whimpering noises. My son, Nicholas, cries this way. Unfortunately, I do not.
I cry UGLY.
I repel people when I cry. People recoil is disgust. When I cry, my face contorts into something reminiscent of Heath Ledger’s brilliant turn as the Joker. My face is almost instantly covered with hideous red splotches. And thick green snot pours from my nose. A tissue is useless against the phlegm coming out of every orifice in my head. I need a full sized bath towel to wipe that stuff away.
And what good is whimpering? How is any emotion expelled through a tiny little whimper? I wail. I heave. I blubber. I howl. I snivel. I hyperventilate. I make noises that I am certain are painful to the dogs of my neighborhood. When I cry, it is a macabre feast for the senses. Kind of like a horror movie. You cover your eyes in terror, but can’t help looking through your fingers. I am a train wreck.
Ruanita has seen my ugly cry on more than one occasion. And she is still here. She did not toss me a bath towel and immediately dial up a divorce lawyer. She has stuck with me despite the ugly cry. Despite my neurosis. Despite the fact that I don’t have all my shit together.
Being able to look past the ugly cry is one more reason that my marriage is just like your marriage.
By: Shannon Ralph
Ruanita kisses me goodbye every morning before I go to work. She doesn’t kiss me in the bedroom. She doesn’t kiss me in the kitchen. Nor the bathroom. Nor the kids’ bedrooms. In order for our goodbye kiss to “count,” she must kiss me at the front door. With the door open. For the entire world—or at least all of Columbus Avenue—to see.
I can’t quite recall when this practice began, but it seems like she has always done it. She meets me at the front door every morning without fail as I am leaving for work. It does not matter if she is up to her elbows in school lunch preparation. It doesn’t matter if she is brushing her teeth. Or begging Lucas to please get dressed. Or wrestling with Sophie over combing her hair. It doesn’t matter. She kisses me goodbye every morning. At the front door. She’ll usually say “I love you” or “I’ll miss you today” or something equally endearing. I leave my house every morning feeling special and appreciated and loved.
To save her time and trouble, I have attempted to kiss her in the kitchen as she poured apple juice and opened Pop Tart packages. I have attempted to kiss her in the bathroom as she had one hand prying Sophie’s stubborn mouth open and the other attempting to insert a toothbrush into the tiny resulting hole. I have attempted to kiss her as she’s begging the muddy dog to please for the love of God come back inside. But she will have no part of these illegitimate goodbye kisses. She will wave off my affections and tell me to meet her at the door. There, and only there, will she kiss me goodbye.
There have been times throughout the years when we have refused to kiss. There have been instances when I was so irate that I yelled “goodbye!” and stalked out the front door without ever looking back. There have been mornings when I stood patiently at the door awaiting my kiss only to be disappointed because Ruanita was still harboring resentment over the fight we had the night before. These days are few and far between, but when I manage to leave the house without my morning goodbye kiss, nothing goes right. The day is somehow “off” from the start. I am late. I can’t think straight. I can’t form a coherent sentence. I am preoccupied with the lack of a goodbye kiss. And nothing will set the day straight again until I get my kiss at the front door. Only when I get my kiss will the stars align and the universe smile on the world once again.
The morning goodbye kiss is one more way that my marriage is just like your marriage.
By: Shannon Ralph
There comes a time in any marriage—particularly lengthy marriages—when a conscious decision is made that we will no longer hide our perfectly natural bodily functions from one another. This is not particularly a decision we are proud of, but it is a decision we all make at some point or another. It may be a decision based on logistical necessity. It may be a decision based on fundamental laziness and sloth. Either way, it is a choice we make and a decision we stand by through thick and thin.
We all belch and fart. It’s just a fact of life. If we did not belch and fart, we would spend our lives in doubled-over agony trying desperately to hold in noxious gas that wants nothing more than to be let out. We would be nothing short of incapacitated. That is no way to live.
Luckily for the married among us, we are free to let it all out.
When you first met your spouse and were trying to win his or her affections, you would certainly never consider farting in front of them. Or belching. Or clipping your toenails. Or waxing your mustache. Or peeing with the bathroom door open. You took special care to hide all of the vile things you did in private from the object of your affection.
Marriage, however, is a completely different story. First and foremost, “private” doesn’t really exist anymore once you tie the knot. Healthy boundaries disintegrate sometime shortly after the honeymoon–specifically if you are married with children. You shower while your spouse is brushing her teeth in the same bathroom. You dress while discussing your checkbook. You pee while your child shows you his latest math test. There is no privacy. At least not in my house.
If I have already spent my day showering, dressing, and peeing with an audience, what is there to keep me from letting go of all that gas while lying in bed with my spouse? What shred of dignity could I possibly have left? Why torment myself and tie my stomach into knots by trying to hold it in? Why disengage myself from my warm and cozy covers to excuse myself to the chilly bathroom to fart? She’s already seen me pee. She has to know I fart, as well. Right? Is it possible that she thinks my body is the lone exception to the laws of biology? That this temple is somehow immune to the side effects of the Chipotle burrito? Surely not.
When you are in the office or sitting in a coffee shop or hanging out with friends, there are certain social mores that surround the belch and the fart. If one happens to slip out, we understand that the farter or belcher will undoubtedly be mortified. Therefore, social norms suggest that the belchee or fartee (the one who is belched or farted upon) ignore the incident. We pretend it did not happen. As our eyes water and our noses scream out for relief, we completely ignore the rogue bodily expellant.
In a marriage—in an environment of communal showering and dressing and peeing—these same social mores do not apply. Therefore, Ruanita feels free to screech and hold her nose and swat at the air dramatically when I pass gas in bed. And I feel the same prerogative to leap (perhaps a bit overzealously) at the unsuspecting dog resting innocently at the foot of our bed and selflessly fling my body on top of hers to protect her from Ruanita’s pestilent fumes. Though we both know that belching and farting are natural bodily responses to excess gas, we do not let the belcher or farter off the hook so easily. No, we call obnoxious attention to the act while secretly finding solace in the knowledge that Ruanita loves me enough to fart in my presence and I love her enough to belch in hers. Isn’t that what true love is all about? The good, the bad, and the stinky?
A lack of basic social boundaries is one more ways that my marriage is just like your marriage.