06/27/2013 05:55 pm ET Updated Feb 02, 2016

Breaking the Man Rule

I cried in the office.

That has never happened before. I was on a conference call when I clicked the refresh button on my screen, and the reaction was involuntary. I pressed the mute button on my phone, closed the door and cried an ugly, snotty, guttural type of cry that is never not unattractive. It was the type of cry that you make when your wriggling newborn baby is first placed on your chest; when the love of your life returns from war; when he looks at you and tells you that he cannot live without you for the rest of his life; when the nation of your birth finally declares that your marriage is indeed as valid and legal as every other married couple's union.

It was an ugly cry but a beautiful moment.

I composed myself and then dialed my husband's phone number. My husband. I can call him that now, and people who live in states that don't recognize my marriage can no longer tell me that he is not. He did not answer. When I heard the recording of his voice, I cried again.

We were married three years ago, on June 19, in the backyard of his parent's house in a suburb of Boston. Our family, our friends and everyone who mattered cried with us when we stood in front of them under a brilliant white tent and declared our love for each other. We were married then, and it was final. So I was unprepared for the wave of emotion that welled up in me yesterday morning when DOMA was declared unconstitutional.

Then I realized that, like most of life's golden moments, the release of emotions comes from the realization that a struggle or fear has been resolved and not simply from the moment itself. Will my baby be healthy? Will he return? Will I find true love? Will my husband be cared for if I die? Will the world ever change?


I opened the door and walked to the break room. The receptionist asked me how I was doing. I wanted to say, "I'm married now!" but instead I said, "Just fine!"

When Phil started talking to me about a method to reuse our VBA code and his concern about how we might be jeopardizing our analysis with these one-off modifications, I replied, "Who cares? I'm fucking married now!"

No, I didn't. Because this was my personal golden moment, and when you are a member of polite society, there are certain rules that you follow. The world continued to spin like it had 20 minutes ago. The Earth did not explode. Straight marriages did not begin to fall apart, children still had mommies and daddies, and work continued to pile up.

There are also unwritten rules for men about crying.

Don't cry during a chick flick.

Don't cry when you are frustrated.

Don't cry when people expect you to be a source of strength.

Don't cry in the office.

But I say, "Fuck that." I'm a rule breaker, and some rules were meant to be broken, or at least declared unconstitutional. And when they are? I might just cry.

William Dameron's personal blog is The Authentic Life.

This post originally appeared on The Good Men Project and The Authentic Life.