|At Symbiosis, post-engagement. Photo by Karl Baba|
I swore off marriage when I was twelve years old. I was a jaded pre-teen with a bit of a feminist streak who had witnessed the demise of her parents’ relationship a few years before. I decided that I was never going to fall prey that heteronormative, societal slave trap. I was going to make something of my life and no amount of schmaltzy, romantic bullshit was going to stand in my way.
Ten years later I was married (life has a funny way of taking our belief systems and packing them with dynamite). I was a good wife—or at least I tried to be. I cooked and cleaned. I was understanding and kind (sometimes). And I really, really cared about my husband. But, admittedly, my heart was not in it. Nobody’s fault. We simply weren’t the best fit for each other and hung on for much longer than was respectfully necessary.
So, I ended up joining the ranks of one of the real housewives who get to say fashionable things like “My ex-husband this” or “My divorce settlement that”—all before the age of 30.
Joking aside, it was a pretty intense period of my life. Walking away from everything I had known about love and relating. Feeling like total failure. A selfish, sick little girl with no stable ground to stand on. Even though through it all I knew I was making the right choice, I was shaking with fear behind my mask of quiet bravery.
And with that mask came a resounding voice from the past: don’t ever get married again. No really. You are not wife material. You are not a mother. Do you want to put another man (and possibly innocent children) though hell?
Then five months ago he came along. And my whole system went “What the hell are you doing, Candice? Again? Really?”
No, not really. Something was different. Some puzzle piece went ‘click.’ The first part of the puzzle had to do with me. The fact that I done some deep soul spelunking, made peace with my hunger and discovered the courage to share my desire made a huge difference in being able to fearlessly express love (even in the face of inevitable rejection and humiliation).
Then, when you meet someone who totally compliments you and loves you and trusts you exactly as you are, there is a sort of ease and freedom that arises. Rather than trying to maintain some ideal of what I think wifedom and marriage should be, I am encouraged to peel off the layers and reveal parts of myself I have kept in the shadows for many years. In fact, the more intimate we are with each other, the better the relationship gets (case in point: jealousy and anger make for great raw material in sex).
And so I had to once again re-examine the voice that was against marriage. OK, so I am not in favor of the stagnant, co-dependent models of relating that parade themselves as marriage. And I think the way that marriage is represented in American culture isn’t truly rooted in love and commitment. I mean, we hungrily follow which football star Kim Kardashian might shack up with next. So-called ‘reality’ TV like the The Bachelor and The Millionaire Matchmaker have reduced marriage to the level of game shows, with husbands and wives as the ultimate prize. And as women, we get caught in this schizophrenic bind of having to find a husband and wanting our freedom: either we have to hunt him and trap him before we turn 30 (because the clock is ticking, ladies) or we give up relating all together for casual trysts that fill the gaps between power lunches and spin classes.
Cut and paste all that against the backdrop of a fierce political and religious debate surrounding the ‘sanctity’ of marriage as it’s ‘threatened’ by homosexual couples and you can see why we have a pretty twisted notion of what it means to be wedded in holy matrimony.
And it’s at this point that I settle onto my mediation cushion and find the pearl of wisdom that rests within me:
“Yes, oh Sagacious One.”
“Do whatever the fuck you want.”
Exactly. At the heart of it all, I want to marry this man. He’s so fucking cool! I get excited when I think about living a crazy, rockstar, dream life with him—a life that goes way beyond the bounds of ‘normal’ marriage. We—my Beloved and I—get to create something unique and authentic. We get to make the rules (and break them). And in the end, we answer to no one but ourselves.
But I like to make lists. And I like to write articles. And I like to make lists when I write articles. So even though there’s really only one reason I’m choosing marriage (because it’s my desire), here are 11 Reasons Why I’m Getting Married (Again):
1. It was spontaneous. And I just love that. It feels much more honest when life happens at the unfiltered speed of ‘Yes.’ If you give me the perfectly scripted diamond-ring-and-down-on-one-knee proposal, I may smile and think “Oh how sweet,” but I’m not going to be sold. But if you give me the day of a total eclipse at the Symbiosis Festival in the Reckless In Love Shack at 3am while surrounded by an inebriated gang of Brits, you have yourself a winner.
2. He’s my best friend. We don’t just love each other; we like each other. We have lots of cracked out, dorky fun together. We like singing Bohemian Rhapsody (the entire thing!). We like quoting cheesy movies to each other. We make each other fall down laughing with our free associations and impressions of other people. And if after 13 days of spending nearly every moment together (days that included very little sleep, 30 hours of driving and camping out in some pretty harsh conditions) we still want to hang out with each other, that’s a pretty damn good sign.
3. We know when to take space. And then, after the 13 days of traveling together, when I say to him, “Honey, I need the night off,” he meets me with understanding and respect. He also knows when to ask for space. We may say something like, “I miss you. I feel sad. I’m disappointed not to see you. My body aches for you.” But in the end, absence does make the heart grow fonder—or at least our relationship stronger. For when we take the time to cultivate our individual passions, we come back together from a place of fullness and energy, ready to share our discoveries with each other.
4. I want to grow old with him. What’s more, I could even see myself having our child (yikes!). This is a very, very hard piece for me to admit. It hits my pride as a ‘free woman’ on so many levels. And yet, when I slow down and feel my desire, I discover joy in the possibility of building a life together—who we are as a team is infinitely greater than who we are alone. I don’t have to spend my life with him. I know I can survive just fine. But I’ve had flashes of his wise, old face in a rocking chair on the front porch of our home. I’m choosing to stick around long enough to see that.
5. He cries. I trust a man who is not afraid to share his innermost wonder and grief. It gives me the courage to share mine. His raw vulnerability is a huge gift in a world where masculinity is falsely touted as being some unbreakable superhero. No, dear readers. The masculine face of love sheds many, many tears on the journey of opening one’s heart to a woman.
6. Because why the fuck not? I don’t ever want to say on my deathbed “Thank God I played it safe when I was in love.” I want to be able to revel in the fact that I risked it all and made the most of every second life had to offer me. I don’t think the universe makes mistakes and I certainly don’t see my first marriage as a mistake. I think it was a glorious journey that has taken me exactly where I need to be. This time, the universe has raised the stakes and I am ready to play balls out.
7. We inspire each other to keep growing. Settling for ‘ok’ isn’t good enough for either of us, even if that means discomfort on both our parts. But that discomfort is just a sign we are hitting a fertile boundary, ripe with creativity and promise. And we are both courageous enough to stay connected within the change, even when it includes some scary shit like moving to another city or exploring our sexuality with someone outside of the relationship.
8. We trust each other’s inner compass. And we strive to speak our truth and have space for the other person’s experience. When he feels something is ‘off’, I listen. When I get intuitive hits about where to go next, he pays attention. This kind of respect is not something I take for granted. It requires a high level of communication and trust to say things like:
“What’s your deeper desire?”
“Where are you right now?”
“Stop playing nice.”
“You feel far away.”
“What are you not saying?”
“I know we planned to turn right, but I’d like to go left.”
“You don’t feel connected to your heart.”
“I love you and I am fuckin’ pissed.”
“This is a hard boundary and I am saying ‘No.’”
9. I get to wear a kick-ass dress. OK, perhaps one of the more shallow reasons to get married again (and also why this list went from 10 to 11) but I like dressing up. And last time I got married at the Justice of the Peace in casual pants and a sweater, so this time I want to go all out. Think Tim Burton meets Moulin Rouge. Yeah, you know you’re jealous.
10. He’s a rock. In the sense that I can throw all my wackiest, off-the-wall, crazy, angry, jealous, freaked out, neurotic shit at him, and he’s still standing. Not only is he still standing—he’s still loving me. He’s not afraid to violate the rules I have locking my orgasm. His commitment to total presence in the face of my feminine outrage liberates the woman in me—and the delicious reward on the other side of that liberation frees us both.
11. I like kissing him. Don’t get me wrong—the sex is awesome too. And if you know anything about me, you know that I place a high value on quality sex. However, there’s something so intimate about kissing someone. There’s nowhere to hide. It’s as if I’m emotionally naked and all the faces of my desire come out as he is staring into my eyes. The warm, electric promise of more when he brushes his lips below my ear and slides his thumb over my nipple. The comfort of home when cups his hands over my ears and grazes his mouth against my forehead. The rousing of my hungry animal when he thrusts me against a wall and devours my face, while pressing his cock against my thick, wet pussy. The sweet, adolescent innocence of his soft, full lips against mine as our tongues barely caress each other. I’ve had a variety of terrific lovers, for which I have tremendous gratitude. But to know how to slake a dying woman’s thirst with just the right kiss—that’s enough to bring me to my knees and pledge a lifetime of eternal devotion.