No. We didn’t.
But Jon and I did exchange bands that are, technically, wedding bands. They were the easiest to find, in terms of a style of ring that we could get engraved on the outside with our own designs. We spent several months this year (starting in April, I think), coming up with a design motif that we really liked, and then designing two designs that were harmonious, but not identical. Likewise, our rings are similar (made of the same material), but not exactly the same (mine has a beveled edge, his edges have a sort of wavy, water effect to them).
We are wearing them on our ring fingers, though switching between the left and right as needed. I ended up ordering three sizes of mine, and discovering that I simply couldn’t have a perfect fit. The ring size that fits my ring finger perfectly when it’s cold gets too tight when I went somewhere warmer. If I got the ring large enough to fit when it was warmer, than it was falling off when it was cold.
So, the solution is to switch between hands, depending on the temperature.
But at this moment, I’m wearing the ring on my left finger. Which one of my coworkers noticed in the middle of a meeting, when I gestured. And then screeched out the subject line of this post.
The hilarious part was when I was totally bewildered that everybody was looking at me. I looked around. Nobody behind me. Ok, so they are looking at me. Why do they think I got married? I didn’t say I got married. Where….ooooooh. Right. The ring on my left ring finger that looks like a wedding band.
Then I blushed so hard I thought my face was going to leak blood. I’d expected someone to notice the ring, and maybe ask about it. I didn’t expect to become the center of attention amongst twenty people, over half of whom are women who are now squealing for joy for me.
(Not to knock women who squeal for joy. I make the most super-sonically ridiculous noises when excited. But I also hold back on making them until I’m sure that everybody is on board with Having an Exciting Moment.)
So what I’d rehearsed saying if someone (singular, someone) asked about the ring (“Jon and I love each other very much, and we plan on spending our lives together, but neither of us wants to get married at this time. It’s kind of complicated and personal; I’m sure you can understand me not wanting to get into all the details”) suddenly felt woefully inadequate. And that’s when I could start thinking again. Initially, I was very much a deer in the headlights.
I’m not completely out at work about being polyamorous. Since WidgetCorp, where I work, is a publicly traded company, I’m not sure what the reaction would be to me being poly. I don’t quite feel like I’m at a place where I’m willing to see how that goes. I am out to a number of my coworkers. If I were asked, officially, if I were poly, I would confirm that I am. I honestly don’t think I could live with myself if I verbally lied about that. But I’m not out to the whole company, and since being poly has changed my feelings on marriage, it’s hard to explain them without talking about being poly.
I used to really hunger to get married. For a lot of reasons. I really like parties. I really like huge dresses (Blame my mom; she used to make me the most adorable (and ridiculous) dresses as a child, complete with petticoats and bloomers. As an adult, I still love petticoats and bloomers); both my prom dresses were huge dresses. One of my favorite costumes for Halloween is a Fairy Godmother costume that can eat 6′ in diameter off of a dance floor (And yes, I can dance in it. Like a rockstar). I love the idea of celebrating love. I love the idea of meeting someone who I loved so much that I wanted to celebrate loving them with a huge party, and a huge dress, and a hugely good time.
Mind you, the ceremony part has never seemed terribly important. I honestly didn’t want all the attention on me for this party. Not that I didn’t want to spend time with my friends at it, and have them be all excited for me, but I didn’t want to stand up in front of everybody and make it all about me in that way. I just wanted a big ol’ bash about love. With delicious foods and drinks that me and my love picked out, so we could celebrate our love for ourselves and our friends, by a tasty feast. Even during the years when I felt fairly certain that I wouldn’t meet a romantic partner who I wanted to spend the rest of my life with, I wanted to go to other people’s celebrations, and hoped that someday I’d have one myself.
Enter Jon. Being in a relationship with Jon kind of feels like a 24/7 lovefest. I would have loved to marry Jon. But that would have been totally impossible, especially with Lora involved. Even if Jon would have wanted to marry me, I can see how marrying me when he was dating Lora before me and had said that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with both of us…that would have felt hard, and shitty (Lora’s feelings on the subject were that she never wanted to get married, and thought it was a useless, patriarchal tradition. However, that was one of her views that always felt off to me. It may well be true. But…I still really question if she was truly poly, and wonder if her feelings were partially a form of sour grapes. If Jon was never going to want to get married, then it might have been easier to say (and try to believe) that she didn’t want to get married herself, rather than grieve for something that would never happen if she stayed with Jon).
Now Lora and Jon aren’t dating, so in theory, that “obstacle” is out of the way. But it really doesn’t matter, because I don’t want to get married anymore. Not even to Jon. Not unless people can be married to multiple people at the same time.
Because a funny thing happened on my road to polyamory development. I realized that right or wrong, good or bad, someone being married to someone else would definitely change the way I viewed them in terms of relationship potential. Even if their spouse 100% approved of our relationship, loved me as a friend (or more), and assured me that they would never use their spouse-stance to deny me access in case of an emergency or to keep me away.
I’ve read too many horror stories about that exact thing happening. I’ve read too many heartbroken blogs where someone was in love with someone who had a spouse and was assured that it was a title only, and that both partners were loved equally, but when the spouse said “it’s me or your other love”, the hinge partner choose the spouse because they were married. Literally said some version of “Even though Spouse and I have problems, we are married and if I have to choose, I’m going to choose the person who I married”.
I do not want to ever be involved in a situation like that. On either end.
This isn’t to knock poly people who decide to get married or to say that they’d ALL make that decision. Getting married is a legitimate life choice to me. Jon and I have a short list of things that would compel us to get married. If either the one of us with less-good insurance became seriously ill or had cancer, we’d get married to improve the care that person got. OR if the person who had more assets became terminally ill, we’d marry so that the person inheriting wouldn’t have to deal with tax. If death happens suddenly…we’re going to be talking to a lawyer in the next month to figure out the best road to take with those things, as well as things like living power of attorney, given that we’re not married.
So yes, we can clearly see, even for ourselves, circumstances under which we’d get married. But in terms of involvement, unless I had a really high confidence that the level of feelings that I’d develop for someone wouldn’t potentially clash with a marriage, knowing a prospective partner was already married would cause me to be more inclined to tread with extreme caution, or decide not to pursue a relationship. If I fell deeply in love with someone and a catastrophe befall him or her and I was blocked from supporting them or seeing them by their legal spouse…that would be horrifically painful. There is a part in Franklin Vieux’s The Game Changer that talks about this (in terms of being seriously ill versus dying). I’d already had concerns about the current system of marriage before reading that passage, but it really solidified things for me.
And to go back to the financial (and health) standpoints, for a moment, Jon and I are pretty equally well-off, in terms of earning power. I’ve saved more, but I think that’s mainly a function of myself getting into a better earning position a few years earlier than him. He also saves quite a bit, especially now that we live together and his housing costs have gone down dramatically by sharing a home with someone who contributes fifty percent to paying the bills. From both a health and money perspective, I would like to keep our options open in case either of us fall in love with someone who isn’t as well off (or in as good of health), so that we’d be free to help that person out and not have our money and health insurance tied to each other by marriage.
Indeed, much as I didn’t care for Lora, while she and Jon were together (and we all lived together), I had my financial documents ordered so that if I died suddenly, Jon inherited all of my money/possessions. But if Jon and I were to die at the same time (like on a trip), Lora inherited enough money to pay rent and utilities for a good six months (the rest of my money and possessions would have gone to my parents). It was important to me that – on top of dealing with the death of the two people she lived with – she wouldn’t have to immediately deal with coming up with a way to pay rent.
I think I mentioned before that Issi, my wonderful romantic squeeze, is married. So where does that fall within these thoughts?
I’ve known Issi for quite awhile. I’ve seen her navigate a number of relationships, and we were roommates for several years. I don’t think I know anybody who is more thoughtful, more committed to making good moral decisions, and more capable of taking shitty emotional situations and navigating them in the best way possible. And by “best way possible”, I mean the way that is the most fair, and most respectful to all parties involved. Seeing and talking to her over time, about various moral quandaries is part of why I love her so much – she’s worlds above me in terms of skill in navigating emotionally-charged waters.
Because of all of that, I feel really safe and comfortable with wherever our relationship may develop. I believe that I got there with Issi in part because I’ve known her since before she was married, and I’ve watched her deal with a number of really hairy emotional situations over the years. She’s on the short list of people who – even when I don’t 100% agree with a decision they make – always understand why they made the decision they did and agree that it is morally sound.
So for Jon and I, marriage is currently something that neither of us are comfortable with for ourselves, barring some very specific circumstances. If the marriage laws here change to make poly marriage possible, I would very much like to marry Jon. That said, honestly, it’d mainly be for the tax breaks he’d have, if I died first. My feelings about marriage as a cornerstone of adult life or a truly important part of life have faded a lot. While I do respect that some people do want to get married, and treat marriage as an important aspect of life, there have been entirely too many sham weddings, and ridiculous weddings followed by quickie divorces for me to take marriage seriously in and of itself or to believe that everybody getting married does in fact take it seriously. And that’s fine! We all have different priorities and take different things seriously. Such is life and I like mine just the way it is more and more.