It’s interesting. As a whole it’s not my monogamous friends who look askance at my marriage. It’s my poly friends. Why get married at all if you’re not going to spend your life with one person? Isn’t marriage a remnant of couple privilege, or of an archaic approach to relationships? Isn’t it about ownership? How could you decide to get married after becoming poly, when both of you were involved with other people?
So I want to talk a little bit about what it meant to me when I chose to marry A.
We’d been together for about nine years. We’d agreed maybe four years before to stop being monogamous, but I’d only been seeing T for several months, and A hadn’t met his other partners yet. My relationship with T forced a major re-evaluation of my life with A, and in the course of that, we came to the realization that yes, we really did want to spend the rest of our lives together. The future we were building together was permanent, lifelong, and we wanted it to stay that way. And watching A’s father take care of A’s mother, severely disabled from a recent stroke, drove home the importance of having people who were deeply committed to you, people you knew you could always rely on no matter what.
We’d signed (for immigration reasons) a legal marriage agreement at the beginning of our relationship, and so people had always treated us as “married”–even those close to us who knew we hadn’t made a lifelong commitment to each other. I didn’t want to just slide sideways into being married. I wanted it to be a choice. I wanted to say vows and know what they meant, and to share our commitment with those closest to us.
So we had a wedding. Some of our friends called it a “vow renewal” or an “anniversary celebration” or a “commitment ceremony,” but to us it was the one and only wedding we’ve had.
Our marriage doesn’t contain a lot of the things people thing marriages should. It doesn’t contain monogamy, or children–or even really sex, anymore (Hey. Twelve years. I know we’re not alone in this.) So what does it mean for me to be married to A? It means I’ve tied my life to his. It’s not just financial, though that’s a very big part of it: we are creating one financial future together, built on pooled resources that we share equally. We also know that we’ll always be there for each other, our lives are tied together, in parallel if not identical trajectories. Whatever happens to one of us, the other one is in it with them. Each of us will take care of the other if they can’t take care of themselves. In making our choices, we have to take the other person into account–even if we don’t always put their needs first. And each has a responsibility to the other to help them reach their full potential, realize their dreams, through support and even a little pushing, when needed. The path of my life must proceed in cycles that are tied to the cycles of A’s own life, and his to mine. And whatever we might have to face in our lives, we have someone to face it with.