When Does Marriage Change Love?

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“Mrs & Mrs” is a message on a heart-shaped dish, one gift of many received from our family when we got married. I view this gift as an expression of love, for love. My partner of more than eight years and I got married April 20, and the question I often get is: Did anything change? It’s not an easy question to answer. Our legal status changed and with it some benefits were added to our lives on paper and in cyber records. That’s not the focus of that question though. Yes, something changed, but it is hard to explain.

 In a previous marriage to a man, I started to grow into the person I am today. We divorced amicably, we remain friends and we have both remarried. Our marriage ended when we changed to the point that it made sense for us to part. We garnered the courage to face the fear of the unknown, and chose to follow love’s compass. Mine led me to a woman.

 My wife and I met in a New York City club in January 2010. As the “date-to-U- Haul” stereotype goes, we dated then we moved in together, delaying the U- Haul a whole eight months before combining our living spaces and material lives. With that move we began our journey to learn how to be together and love.

 Years later, we made a huge move from the East Coast to the West, and we became certified as domestic partners in California. We continued to love and support each other through life’s challenges and changes, be they educational pursuits, job or career shifts or the ups and downs that come with life. We gave each other the space to grow and the support to change.

 This year we decided to marry, largely for practical reasons. Living away from our families, and being non-traditionalists, we planned a civil ceremony for one witness and ourselves. While getting our license, we were asked to pick a date for the ceremony. We picked one that coincided with some family spring breaks on the chance that maybe someone could join us. Word of the wedding spread and we went from three to 13 attendees. With each acceptance of our invitation, we realized that our wedding meant a lot to our loved ones. They came from as far as Asia, Massachusetts and New York, while others traveled either up or down the west coast to be there. We still kept the plan relatively simple, but the family came through with lots of festivity and gifts. At the wedding ceremony we shared the vows we each wrote to describe our love. That day our families saw us in a different light—they witnessed our act of love and commitment and celebrated this love with us. There’s something special about a declaration of love before the people who have known you the longest. The depth and breadth of love I experienced that day changed me forever.

First published, June 5, 2017,  Harness Magazine