I’ve been paying attention to the ways my relationship with Josh has changed, and the ways it hasn’t, since we married at the end of July. The quality of our relationship has deepened, I think due to the intensity of the process of preparing for the wedding, as well as experiencing together the utter magic of the day (it was astronomically more magical than I anticipated, but I digress). Apart from those things, the quality of our relating hasn’t changed significantly.
Our financial/legal lives have changed, since we now have a living trust in place, as well as our legal and medical powers of attorney. I realized the day we signed the papers it that it was the “second half” of marriage that we finally completed, what straight couples do the same day they marry, by way of signing the marriage license.
And then there was bringing Josh’s accounts into my Quicken file. Whew, that was significant! ; )
There is one other aspect of our lives that has changed significantly that I didn’t consider very much: what we call each other. “Husband.” While there are plenty of folks (gay and straight) who may recoil at my use of this word, I absolutely claim it. The entire time we were preparing for the wedding I was insistent on acting like any other couple where appropriate (and there are few situations where it isn’t appropriate in my mind).
And this is a significant change. We had all kinds of playful names of referring to each other before the wedding: “zombie boyfriend” when groggy after sleeping, “crabby boyfriend” (self-explanatory), “boo-boo boyfriend” (feel free to vomit in your mouth a little). All of those had to be converted from “boyfriend” to “fiancé” before the wedding, and now to “husband.”
Sometimes one of us slips and says “boyfriend,” and the other waits for the brain to catch up, and the correction made. This has been a gratifying conversion, due to the significance of the new moniker.
At times this can be uncomfortable and/or amusing. Because, you see, I use the same word out in the world that I use in my home: Josh is my husband. Even after being out more than 20 years it can still take a breath and a moment of resolve to come out, yet again. Take this afternoon, for instance. Josh called a paving company to have a look at our driveway (it’s in rough shape). While I was mowing this afternoon, a car drove up and parked across the street. I said hello–I had forgotten about the driveway and assumed Josh was getting rid of something else on Craig’s List. Jim stated he was here to look at the driveway, “Are you Josh?” After an instant of thought and a small breath, I said, “He’s my husband. My name’s Jay,” and I shook his hand.
I must say that I experience a non-malicious moment of enjoyment as I watch the *tilt* look on peoples’ faces–in a moment I have forced them out of their normal everyday interactions where things fall into well-worn, well-known categories. Much like being given a gift and finding that it doesn’t immediately belong in one’s home. “What do I do with this?” is the look I often see on peoples’ faces.
As I write this I can’t think of an instance where someone didn’t handle this situation well (I don’t consider the awkward pause a sign of handling it poorly). Today with Jim we went right on and talked about the driveway. He shared his professional opinions with me, I thanked him, and he left to go prepare some quotes for us.
While I don’t enjoy the discomfort I caused (my being the cause is debatable, and you know what I mean), I DO enjoy the opportunity the person has to broaden their experience, as well as the small dent I’ve just made in the world of status quo, old-style-normalcy, and lack of acceptance. The best way to defeat lack of acceptance is to be who I am unapologetically and graciously, and connect with people. Who knows what Jim thought as he drove away: was he uncomfortable? Amused? Happy? Troubled? Who knows. Maybe he told an associate, “yeah, I met this guy who said his husband called me for a quote. I didn’t know what the hell he was talking about at first, but he seemed like an ok guy…” Or maybe none of this occurred to him and he just remembered he forgot to put the trash out this morning–I shouldn’t be presumptuous. But I would place a bet.
I don’t know for sure what his thoughts were; I do know, though, that I heard myself say “my husband” one more time, thereby making it more real and more normal in my world and THE world. I believe strongly that it’s imperative we make these small statements as often as we can, wherever we can. It’s an important way that “marriage is two loving people” will become more normal in the world.