My husband, Frank, and I got married with virtually no fanfare, forethought, or guests at Chicago City Hall on February 7, 2015. Same-sex matrimony had become legal in Illinois the previous year and we had an afternoon free. Cue the Wedding March.
We had already been together for more than 8 years by that point and had been cohabiting for more than 6. I, for one, didn’t think a big nuptial to-do was necessary for a couple like us, given that we had already established ourselves as one of history’s great same-sex pairings, right up there with Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, Bert and Ernie, and the Property Brothers.
The anticlimactic wedding ceremony proved a miscalculation, though. Several friends and family members professed themselves disappointed, especially the straight ones, presumably because straight people are conditioned from a young age to believe a wedding is the be-all and end-all.
They’re wrong, but it’s sweet that they wanted to be there and I feel bad about leaving them out. Plus, it’s likely because we never had a wedding registry that our kitchen lacks a stand mixer to this day.
Maybe we’ll throw a big event for our 20th anniversary in order to make amends. Doing what’s expected long after everyone has ceased to care is very on brand for me.
Barring an unforeseen breakup or other catastrophe, we will hit the two-decade mark in 2026 because we count from when we started dating—October 2, 2006—rather than the day we wed. I feel like we deserve credit for the premarital years, especially since man-on-man connubial bliss wasn’t even legal for most of that time.
Perhaps by our 20th year as a unit I’ll take up wearing a wedding band. I haven’t up to now. That’s another thing that bothers certain straights of my acquaintance. But what can I say? I have a contrarian streak, Frank doesn’t care whether I wear a ring or not, and the straights can mind their own business for a change. I encourage them to go shop for lawnmowers or host a gender reveal party or do whatever else it is they do.
Frank, for his part, wears a wedding ring on occasion. Certainly not every day. I don’t know if he follows a ring-sporting system of some sort or if he just forgets to put the item on his finger a lot of the time. When he’s not wearing the band, it rests on a little yellow glass dish next to the bathroom sink.
Compared to, say, the 65-year marriage of my grandparents, my 16-year stretch with Frank looks pretty paltry. Nevertheless, sometimes people ask us for the secret to romantic longevity.
Frank’s customary answer is “forgiveness,” which sounds like an insult. Is he saying we’ve stayed together all these years because of his capacity to overlook my many, many flaws?
I, on the other hand, would argue that marriage is like Words with Friends. For that game to keep going, players have to respond to the push notifications alerting them whenever an opponent has taken a turn. Likewise, each spouse has to tend to the marriage in order to sustain it, or one of them is going to give up and search for some rando using the Community Match feature.
And yes, Words with Friends is outdated and lame—but hey, those are two more things it has in common with marriage.