“No,” I begin, knowing that the standard answer is a long list of nothing-changed. “But it made me realize how society values the married label.”
For most, at least at the very beginning, I tell the story about how we were in line and how when we used the wife-husband labels, that people reacted differently. That there was some different weight with those labels. That those people might be SERIOUS! And whatever they’re asking is IMPORTANT! Then I go into some angst about how it’s dumb, about how about the people who are single, who don’t marry for whatever reason. Why is it that labels define us so much? That blood is thicker, but suddenly marriage is even stronger?
Although I realized that Chris and I had masqueraded for years in front of my (somewhat religious) uncle and aunt that we had lived apart when he finally moved in three years ago. But I never confirmed any change in status. So when my uncle asked, “Oh where did you move?”
I was stunned. Of course, nowhere. But then I paused realizing the context. How my cousins had devoutly lived separately for years before marrying. For us, it wasn’t about religion, but mostly around practicality. His car wouldn’t fit in my garage. And I wouldn’t ever move to a place where I had to be further away from the BART line and had to pay more! So we gave some story about how we had roommates and then the roommates were kicked out.
But in a moment of fury in the response to Mr. and Mrs., I added, “I didn’t change my last name. I absolutely have no plans on changing my last name.”
And then there we were, as conversations shifted and morphed to some controversial topics. I was happier there, I think. No questions about me. But questions about beliefs, attitudes, behavior that weren’t quite about me. But I had the passion to argue about for hours.