I've been divorced twice. I've typed those words into lots of blogs, and there's a good reason for it -- it used to be my biggest embarrassment. I figured being divorced once was acceptable, but twice was over the limit. I figured instead of glossing over it and hoping no one would discover the first ex-husband, I would own the flow of information. I'd just come out and say it and let people get over their shock and move on. After a while it didn't seem so embarrassing anymore. It's just part of who I am.
I know a few single parents who are still in that place of shame. Part of why I decided to be a vocal single parent when my firstborn started kindergarten was to speak up for those who weren't willing. I wanted other parents to know they weren't alone, and they didn't have to hide. I walked into the parent teacher conferences side by side with my ex-husband and said that we were a "two-household family." When I detected a few incidents of single-married bias at school I confronted it, because I was okay with being visible, and many people, especially the recently single, are not.
I have been criticized for being anti-marriage, but the truth is, I believe in lifelong, eternal love as much as the next girl raised on Disney movies and romance novels. I believe in commitment, rings made of stars frozen in snowflakes that dance and dazzle you with their brilliance. I adore big white dresses made of wings of doves and the breath of dragonflies. I love long trains like frothing following seas. I have the mouth of a cynic and the heart of a poet, but I keep my romantic side hidden away like an embarrassing relative when I write.
I believe lasting love can work. I am more than reasonably certain that neither of my husbands slept with other people while we were married. I do not feel men are incapable of commitment or monogamy. My lesbian mother always told me that she knew there were good men out there, because her father and brother were the kind of men everyone should marry.
I have friends and relatives for whom marriage works. I am happy they have found their lifelong love, but I'm not jealous of their "Mrs." Oh, I once was, don't get me wrong. I spent a good bit of time feeling less-than and green with envy. Now, though, I care about the relationship behind the ring, not the ring itself. I hope everyone finds the kind of love that heals you and fills you, whether they choose to marry or not. That kind of relationship takes a lot more talking than dreaming to work.
I am in favor of gazing into your beloved's eyes and vowing to love them forever. I am even in favor of doing it while carrying flowers and wearing a really fabulous dress that may be any color you find flattering. I support the decision to exchange a token which may or may not be some form of jewelry. (I have a male acquaintance that chose a diamond earring over a wedding band because he thought his wife shouldn't get all the sparkly jewels.)
I even appreciate the comfort that inheritance rights and social security benefits provide. I see the benefit to everyone in the family having the same name, although after having gone through three last names of my own, I'm not in a hurry to do it again. Perhaps the man could change his name, if it ever got to that point.
When I see my mother and her partner dance in the kitchen while making breakfast after being together for over 35 years, I want that. I'm just not sure that I want to subject that kind of love to the institution of marriage. It's not something I've excelled at, and love is too precious to risk.
Love doesn't need public approval to make it real. Love doesn't need rings and dresses and big fancy parties. Love doesn't need name changes or social security benefits. But we all need love.
Will I ever marry again? I don't know. Just because signing a marriage license was the kiss of relationship death for me, doesn't mean I have no hope. I am sure I will have a lifelong love and maybe even wear a pretty dress and profess eternal love someday, like after we've been together 30 years, and I look like a classy Audrey Hepburn, not a blushing young-ish bride.