Jaya is 27 and lives in Queens
Why are you choosing to get married?
You start with the hardest question! I guess it’s a combination of wanting to honor our longstanding relationship (friends for 13 years, dating for 5, living together for 3), getting the legal recognition that makes any future goals like long-term travel or buying a house easier, and having the opportunity to say what we’ve been saying to each other for years in front of friends and family. Though with the legal stuff I always forget that we became Domestic Partners two years ago so he could get on my dental/vision insurance, so I guess we already have some of that!
Marriage was never a goal in my life; I come from divorced parents who drilled that “don’t get married before you’re 30″ thing into my head, and I figured it’d be nice if it happened but I wasn’t gonna push it. But once we got together we both started talking a lot about how that’s what we wanted to do. It probably was informed a lot by society and expectations and it being What You Do, but honestly it just feels good. It feels like this is what we’re meant to be doing.
What do you see the role of a wedding to be?
Neither of us are religious, or particularly tied to any traditions, but I think we both find the idea of ceremony important. There’s a reason humans have been creating ceremonies for thousands of years! When it gets stressful we keep saying “ugh we’ll just go to City Hall” but realize that just doing the legal part with no ceremony and no people around wouldn’t feel right. So in the same way we enjoy dressing up and throwing cocktail parties, or going out on dates, or buying our friends bottles of champagne when they get new jobs, we want to have an opportunity to celebrate something important to us. And a wedding is just sort of a built-in way to do that. It’s a way to make public everything we’ve known between each other, and a good excuse to get our friends to travel from around the world to see us. I always get frustrated that there are no other life events that people are willing to schlep for, even though I don’t feel that my being in a good relationship I’m accomplishing any more than say, getting a PhD, but we’ll use it to our advantage.
Is there anything so far about being engaged/wedding planning that you find remarkable or surprising?
I think realizing that even though we have really laid back families, they still had expectations. We had been under the assumption that because my parents had a small wedding and his parents had already paid for his sister’s large wedding, neither of them would really care if we went big or small or fancy or whatever. And to their credit they do just want us to be happy, but there are little pressures.
Also I think it’s made the “forever” aspect of the relationship more real. It’s weird, because I don’t think marriage is necessary for everyone, and your husband doesn’t need to be your best friend, and no one person should fulfill everything in your life, etc. But getting engaged just sort of brought up how that’s exactly who I have. I am marrying my best friend, who I go to for everything, and I’ve noticed how remarkable and strange that is. I don’t feel any more or less committed than I was before we got engaged. I was always in this for the long haul. But maybe knowing that I’ll be making that promise out loud (even though all our family and friends already knew our commitment level) and signing a contract (even though Domestic Partners) brings it into focus for me.
Do you have an engagement ring? How do you feel about it?
I do, and I love it! He got my great-grandmother’s engagement diamond re-set in a really amazing rose gold ring. When we were talking about getting married I gave him the diamond and told him that, whenever the time came, to use that diamond, because diamonds are expensive and conflict-free is tricky. Though, I think I was on the tail end of getting over all my cultural expectations about engagement rings. If I were to get proposed to now I’m not even sure I’d need a ring.
Also when he proposed I tried to propose back by shoving a ring watch on his finger, so we could be equal. Equality always.
How do you feel about the word “wife”?
I’m getting used to it. I like the website A Practical Wedding’s ongoing conversation about “Reclaiming Wife,” and how it doesn’t have to mean this stay-at-home nag we all picture. I wish “partner” didn’t automatically make people assume we’re not married. Though I try to remind myself that words are supposed to serve us, not restrict us. If I want “wife” or “partner” to mean that I’m a 27-year-old writer living in a city with a spouse and two cats and a pole-dancing hobby, it can absolutely make it mean that.
What decision are you making about your name? Why?
There was never a question of changing my name, for many reasons. I’m a writer so I’m building a career on it, there is already a family member with my first name and his last name, but mainly I just don’t have to. I like my name the way it is. I don’t think it’s a sign of being more or less committed, or more or less family to any hypothetical children (my mom and I don’t share a last name and she is still my loving mother). It’s also a bit of my feminist stand on this. No one asks him if he is changing his name and that pisses me off.
What do you expect marriage to be like? Are you expecting your relationship with your partner to change?
I’m not sure! I’m trying to talk to married friends and read these sorts of accounts to anticipate any changes, but so far everything they’ve said is stuff that applies to my current relationship. One friend of mine who got married over the summer told me that it made him look at changing jobs in a new way, and realizing it affects both of them, not just him. But my fiancé and I both changed jobs in the past two years and some of my immediate thoughts were about how my job change would affect him, and if it would be the right thing for both of us, etc. I think it’ll stay pretty much the same, just because nothing else about our lives is changing. Maybe it’ll be more of that “real” feeling.