Our Non-Conformist Wedding pt 1: What is a marriage?

So, last Thursday (January 14, 2016) Boyfriend proposed. Woohoo, I guess, haha. I’m definitely not one of those women who has been dreaming of being married ever since I learned what a wedding was, hence the lack of exclamation points above :-). That’s not to say that I’m not excited to get married to him, it’s just that for me, the wedding is nothing more than us making our marriage official.

First of all, as I’ve kept reassuring my dad who has been unexcited about the fact that Boyfriend (I guess I should upgrade him to Fiance, but meh, it doesn’t matter to me either way) is 19 years older than me, none of my grand goals of life involve a man. A man was always seen as a nice addition, but not a necessity. My goals involve having a fantastic house with room for my dozen or so fostered/adopted children. I may exaggerate about the dozen, but I plan to start with one foster kid and adding from there as it’s appropriate (some children need to be an only child due to their previous experiences, so it’s really playing it by ear). This would be a life-long commitment, so a dozen kids wouldn’t be strange over the next 40 years or so since I prefer older children :-).

Boyfriend is cool with both these plans, though he wouldn’t mind another biological child if possible. I’m not a huge fan of babies and he doesn’t even know if he’s still fertile, but I’m not afraid of him widowing me with a little one–he and my dad are, but I’ll deal with it if it happens. Like I said above, single motherhood has never frightened me and I’ve always been open to accepting whatever child steals my heart even if it’s a baby. In high school I remember joking with my best friend (she’s black, I’m white) that I KNEW the first kid I’d get would be a little black girl and I’d be running to my friend to learn how to take care of her hair. Though recently I’ve learned about natural hair for black women which I find beautiful, so I’m less worried about knowing what kind of grease/relaxer to use.

Anyway, this is supposed to be a wedding post, haha. Though I still need to explain our feelings on marriage. You see, for us, a marriage is a choice by two people who decide to make a commitment to each other. A wedding is the government way of making it legal. Two people can have a long and happy marriage without ever having a wedding and two people can have a wedding with no marriage ever existing.

This article I found a couple years ago shows how a man married his wife long after the wedding. ‘Course, he says he “didn’t love my wife when we got married”, but I don’t agree with his terminology-yes, he loved her. Period. He just wasn’t married to her when they had the wedding. The marriage came later.

Boyfriend and I have been married a long time. I’m not sure when it happened and it’s possible that it just happened recently. We started dating in Sept 2013 (I guess I found that article above while trying to figure out the beginnings of our relationship) and I started spending the weekends out here about 6 months later (I’m not very good with dates/time). At some point around then, I had my first meltdown where I was thoroughly pissed at his lack of commitment to cleaning his house (remnant of a teenaged son turned work-a-holic and a really bad ex-girlfriend). These meltdowns continued to happen every few weeks when I wasn’t seeing enough progress. We had plenty of fights where he’d leave for a couple hours (result of a couple of particularly bad wives) and where I’d clean it myself and be pissed off about that. But then he’d go behind me and scrub the hell out of whatever I’d yelled at him to clean which would really soften my mood.

You see, I hate constant clutter but don’t mind a bit of dust or soap scum so long as it get’s cleaned twice a year or so. He kind of breeds clutter, but when he decides to clean something, it will sparkle. So, as in the case of my room when I decided to move in, I got really mad at him for not getting it cleaned out (he was putting it on his son who was working 50+ hours a week for minimal money), so I moved all the big stuff and stuff I couldn’t throw away (because it’s not my stuff to decide) into the living and dining room with the expectation that they’d go through it and I ultimately got my room cleaned out for me. It only took me 3 hours or so. Then I got tired, told them that the rest was there’s (meaning the stuff in the living room) and went to read in bed. Both of them, instead, went into my room and finished cleaning it out. They moved the bed and bookcase around and vacuumed the floor, ultimately spending another 3 hours making it sparkle for me. Which was nice except it took another 6 months for the stuff to finally vacate the living and dining room, with more arguments between me and boyfriend. I mean, I love when he scrubs the stove every week, but the dishes start getting annoying after the 3rd day (we have an agreement: I cook, he does the dishes).

A long, long time ago I decided that I wanted to get married on Leap Day (Feb 29th). When I happened to get a boyfriend 2.5 years before such a date, I was like, okay, let’s see if he’s marriage material. Turns out that he very much was because even with our arguments, he was making progress on the house and with his smoking. And even with our arguments, I knew I wanted to keep fighting for us because progress was happening even if it wasn’t fast enough for me. Plus, I knew that he was just as upset with himself as I was for his slowness. He’s been through a lot emotionally the past couple years so I just needed to be more patient as he worked his way through them.

Which is why I suspect our marriage might have finally happened just a few weeks ago when I left him a note telling him how stressed I was about our wedding, something we’ve both talked about extensively especially since right before Christmas. I told him that despite the fact that we had a date and place picked out, we weren’t engaged until he got me a ring. I feel that the engagement ring is the best indicator of how married a couple is before the wedding. Let’s be honest, even I had a very firm idea of my perfect engagement ring long before he existed. I didn’t want one too gaudy or very expensive, but not a super cheap one, either. And it could NOT be a typical one stone diamond engagement ring because I feel like I could break that and because they’re not my style. Now, most guys* don’t have a clue about what engagement ring to get so when a jeweler says “this is what most people get” they’ll go with the standard in the price they can afford. Or they go in with their fiance and buy the one she picks out.

There are two glaring problems here:

  • If she picks one that is way out of the guys budget, he’ll feel obligated to buy it anyway.
  • If he buys something she hates, she’ll feel obligated to accept it anyway.

Both of these reveal problems in the marriage–the obligation to accept what’s handed to you. By the time a guy proposes, he should know her backwards and forwards and know exactly what will suit her tastes.

*Purely for ease of writing this, I use “guy” and “girl” in their traditional gender roles. In reality I feel that it’d be better to use “proposer” and “proposee”, but that really gets complicated quickly. So don’t feel like I’m trying to dictate something–your own millage will vary.

Boyfriend and I spent a relative lot of time discussing my ring. I needed something that wouldn’t get caught on stuff (mostly boxes and when I randomly walk into shelves) at work, something pretty but not gaudy, and something with color rather than the standard white diamond. We looked at rings online and he really wanted to order whatever one I picked out, but I refused because for the above reasons, I wanted him to be by himself, thinking about me, when he bought the ring. And I was going to be nice so he didn’t have to buy it, he just had to pick out 1-3 for me to choose from.

He was very hesitant about shopping for one because he’s so afraid of getting something I wouldn’t like. He didn’t buy me flowers until a month ago because he thought I’d hate them (all he has to remember is “not roses” and my favorite color is orange but I love all colors). But when I told him and he finally understood that I wanted a ring that 40 years from now, long after he’s gone, would remind me of him, even if it was god awful ugly (the ugly part was kind of a joke), he went shopping the next day at the store his mother worked at before she died. He called to say he’d narrowed it down to 3 beautiful rings: a blue one, a green one, and an orange one. I know he’s wanted to get me a blue or green ring, which I’d love, but we’d yet to see an orange ring that isn’t an ugly shade. I attended the University of Virginia. I do NOT like Tennessee orange, haha. He told me that he really liked the blue, but was afraid it was too big for my tiny fingers. He liked the green. The orange looked like Virginia Orange, but he was afraid that it’d remind me of me, not him. He had to wait an hour for his salesman to come back, so I told him to go with the ring he couldn’t stop thinking about. A couple hours later he said that he bought the orange one and was heading to my parent’s house to talk to my dad.

He wasn’t going to ask for permission. He was going to bite the bullet and inform my dad of our engaged status and get the first possibly negative reaction. My dad likes him as a person, but is unhappy at the age difference. I told my dad this past Monday, after a Friday where I wore my ring, but didn’t mention it at all to him, that “it’d be okay” and he said “we won’t know that for 50 years and by that time I’ll probably be gone” which made me smile. My dad and I don’t talk about relationships and/or feelings as a rule.

Anywho, BF came to work after getting done with my dad and had the nerve to propose there. He’d asked me a few time before, but this was the first time with a ring. He was careful that no one saw (we were hiding in the relative privacy of the rubber stamp department) and of course I rejected him. But he’d needed the practice anyway because he opened the ring box upside down.

By the way, a week earlier I’d ordered my dress because a few days before that we’d picked up his mom’s wedding gown from his dad’s house and when I tried it on I realized that while we may have been the same height, she was a string bean. Like seriously TEENIE! I’d had to emphasize to his stepmom in front of him, just to make sure that he didn’t get the wrong impression, that we were not engaged at that point. So yeah, we had a date, a place (though no reservation), a freaking DRESS, and weren’t engaged.

But then we were engaged. He took me to the small beach where he’d first asked me to be his girlfriend. It was romantic for the whole 5 minutes we stood under the stars until we finally admitted to each other that we really needed to find a bathroom, haha. I hadn’t wanted to interrupt his plans because I knew he was nervous about screwing it up and he heard a boat emptying it’s bilge. So we went to a nearby Dollar General to see about borrowing their bathroom. He was going to buy a drink so we didn’t feel like “those people”, but when I came out he was surrounded by the two women who work there getting congratulated on our engagement. They then wanted to admire my ring and I was super embarrassed so we exited as soon as possible (after I emphasized that he DID NOT propose at Dollar General!) and forgot the drink. Turns out he’d been telling a Sheriff’s Deputy he knows that was outside of the store and one of the workers overheard him.

I’ll admit that at first I didn’t love my ring. The light was pretty much non-existent on the beach and in the Explorer it was poor at best. The band tapers as it hits the diamonds on either side of the orange stone and in that lighting it looked lopsided/unsymmetrical. But under the florescent lights of Dollar General it was gorgeous. We found out on Saturday (while arranging to get it resized) that the stone is a Spessartite Garnet which changes from brown to orange to nearly red depending on the light. The ring below is fairly similar to mine, though mine is in gold and this one doesn’t have the tapering that I initially took as weird.

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When I’d told BF that I wanted a ring that reminded me of him, he wanted to get a blue one because that’s what he likes. But he chose this one because he thought it’d suite me best. Well, I told him very soon after he gave this one to me that this one does remind me of him, even though it’s my favorite color because his eyes change from gray to blue to green depending on the light. And when we went to Baker’s Fine Jewelry  and Gifts to get it resized, he showed me his other top choices. The blue one was way to big and gaudy for me and the green one was kind of weird looking. He did good. Very very good.

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