How Marriage is Different

wedding bouquet

I’ve been married about 8 months now, and I was trying to explain to a group of friends from college what it’s like. And I’m struggling. They are single or couples-living-together, and I desperately wanted to make marriage sound awesome. Because I like it pretty well!

But everything I could think of just made marriage sound lame and/or pretty much the same as a nonmarried couple that’s living together. Stuff like having someone to take care of you when you’re sick. Or being totally ok with staying in and watching marathons of a cartoon instead of putting on pants one weekend. Or not always having to be the one to do the dishes.

Like I said, I’m having trouble explaining why that stuff is all cool.

Even the governmental benefits of being married have either not yet manifested themselves (like managing dual property) or haven’t been too easy (filing married

-person taxes sucked this year, in part because taxes for writers are a little different).

So what’s the point?

The biggest boon I’ve personally experienced since getting married has been not the result of moving in together or of a piece of paper. It came from the public declaration: legitimacy.

Both my relationship with my partner and my relationship to society as an adult have become solidified, apparently, because I wore a white dress and he wore a suit and we made some promises to each other. People who have known me for years, since I was little, are starting to listen to me like I have actual input. New people I meet at work are a little more likely to relax a bit if I share a “husband story” at lunch. I give off the impression of being “settled down” (even if I don’t feel it!). We fit into a nice tidy societal compartment.

Sometimes conversations about marriage equality rights focus on the benefits, the legal stuff: undisputed hospital visitation rights, automatic powers of attorney, inheritance, health insurance, adoption, taxes. And those are all good, concrete things that–I believe–everyone who loves deeply should be able to acquire. But the most significant benefit of marriage, the one that will be most hard-won, will be that simple societal acceptance, being seen, officially, as one familial unit.

It’s a pretty great perk. And one of the reasons marriage is awesome…and why there should be more of it.

P.S. Congratulations to the newlyweds in Alabama today!

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