So, on Thursday night, Jamie knelt in front of me and asked me to marry him. I said ‘Yes’ of course and then there was quite a lot hugging and crying. A lot of you probably think this is fairly surprising behaviour from us.
When we first got together, almost 16 years ago, there were a heap of practical reasons not to get married so we shacked up together. We were quite content with putting the marriage thing on the back burner but some people seemed to have opinions. Luckily there have been very few people who outright stated that our unwedded bliss was immoral but there have been plenty of times when our commitment to each other has been called into question, when I have been listed as ‘single’ in documents, when no one has been able to find a word for my relationship with members of my partner’s family.
I defended our position. I pointed out that we were more committed than many married couples, that a ceremony meant less than the way we lived each day, that marriage was a patriarchal construct and that marrying while same-sex couples were denied the right was ethically dubious anyhow. The trouble with having to defend a position so rigorously is that it is very easy to find oneself entrenched there ,and so it was that an arrangement dictated by circumstances became a principled stand.
As the debate around marriage equality gained more and more attention I had to rethink things. I might have dismissed marriage as old-fashioned and irrelevant but here were people who were desperate to embrace the institution and their stories of love and courage awoke something in me. I remembered girlhood fantasies of proposals and dresses and realised that I still wanted some of those things (though with less of the Edwardian novel about them than my youthful self would have desired).
It was, at first, hard and uncomfortable to reconcile these wishes with my anti-marriage stance. I had to learn that it was alright to want what I wanted without worrying about the rest of society. And so Jamie and I talked about getting married. We thought about it. We put it off until the right time. Then, on Thursday, in the middle of exhausted tears and frustration, we were hit with the realisation that there is no perfect moment and that the time or happiness was now.
I still worry that people will be pleased for us for the wrong reasons. We are not lost sheep returning to the fold and we are not interested in conforming to society’s norms. We’re just two people who are very much in love and would like to stand up and say so.
*There isn’t a ring yet.