So my Ghost and I got married. Just over a week ago today. πŸ™‚
I am, duh, rather chuffed about this. I grin to myself every time I wind up mentioning my WIFE to somebody (I’m trying not to be obnoxious about this, but you never know).
A friend of mine was teasing me at a party last night – a married, poly, left-wing bi-guy, just to give some context – about the Bourgois Institution of-which I was now complicit. And, while I was well-aware that he was teasing me, it does fall into the Ambiguous Feelings About Marriage that turn up in my head sometimes.
I know it’s an institution that privileges monogamy and (in many, many places – including my own province, up until about 10 years ago) heterosexuality over, well, pretty much everything else. I know it’s history is deeply rooted in sexism. I know that it plays a huge roll in the continued existence of proprietary beliefs around and behaviours in romantic relationships.
And I still believe in it.
I am a newlywed. Before that, though, I was a divorcee. I have experienced marriage as a sexist, proprietary institution, and I’ve experienced “wife” as a state heaped with social obligations and expectations – about taking on household chores, maintaining familial traditions and correspondences (for two families), wanting and conceiving (biologically-related) children, wanting and purusing a particular kind of middle-class, suburban life[1] – all of which came with a denial of (and occasional shaming about) my bisexuality, my queerness, my dominance (and sadism – which I was only just discovering), my budding sex-positivity, even my religiosity[2] and environmentalism[3].
I have been a wife – with all its attendent social assumptions – before. And before, when I was a wife with a husband, the assumptions that people make about “wife” (and about “married” and how those things fit into the charmed circle of socially acceptable behaviour) chafed at my a lot because those assumptions didn’t actually fit who and what I was/am.
Now, I’m a wife who has a wife, and I find that the social assumptions that get made are rather different. Part of that, of course, is that “wife” can’t hide all the things that we are. We are openly poly – one of my wife’s other partners spent xmas with us chez my sister’s cottage with my extended family; we are obviously dykes; we are members of our leather community and our O/p dynamic isn’t something we keep in our bedroom[4]. We walk in the pride parade with the queer sexworkers and I’ve been on the news (recently, and seen by my landlord – we talked about it the next day) speaking on the importance of decriminalization. “Wife” doesn’t render those things invisible because I’m actively living all of them now.
When I introduce Ghost as “[…] and this is my wife,” people don’t mistake either of us for a man, and they don’t mistake either of us for het.
Instead of implying a lot of social conformity, “wife” tells people that my relationship with Ghost is one to be taken seriously, one that’s based on love and trust and mutual care, and one that comes with the expectation of those things will last a lifetime. And it does it with a single word.
I love my partner, my servant, my lover, my beloved. And I am damn pleased to be able to call her my wife.
Hands (with rings, post-ceremony)
Ms (Mrs) Syren.
[1] Said life appears to be a set of certain socially-conservative-but-officially-Liberal attitudes that my Maid of Honour (who lives in the suburbs and is het, vanilla, married, and a mom, – fyi) collectively refers to as “Barhaven” in tones of particular disgust.
[2] Both in that my religion is not Abrahamic and that it’s an active practice that involves actual faith and contact with the holy, rather than a sort of socio-secular worldview with no sense of the numinous involved in it at all.
[3] I don’t even know. πŸ˜›
[4] I may explain it “gently”, but nothing changes the bit where my wife calls me “my Lady” and gets down on her knees – in front of my mother – to help me on and off with my boots.