Telling people you are getting married is supposed to be a wonderful exciting time. Newspapers publish announcements and people have huge parties to celebrate engagements but that is mostly for young hetero couples or at least that is how I see it.
For those who have past marriages or even just being 45+ with a lifetime full of mistakes in the relationship arena there is no longer the expectation of joy and excitement from your friends and family and when it is a same sex relationship things are even more unpredictable.
I have to admit that in the past I have been the skeptic on the other side. There have been times when a friend joyously announced an engagement and behind my smile and words of congratulations, I thought “Again?” or “Gee, haven’t I heard this before?”
I have also been the one who thought my lesbian friends had lost their minds with all this wedding stuff. I just didn’t get it – why have some big ceremony or run off to another state and do all that when the law in Texas still wouldn’t recognize it? I actually at times thought it was to make a political statement and for those times and those thoughts I deeply apologize to those friends who are reading this and realizing that I am talking about their weddings. What can I say? I get it now! I think at least I managed to be polite and congratulatory and hopefully I never made anyone feel I didn’t care.
So here we were planning to get married, both of us had our past failures, and the whole topic of gay marriage is so controversial and even offensive to some of the people in our lives. We decided we weren’t going to tell anyone and we justified that by telling ourselves that we weren’t trying to make a political statement or prove anything to anyone other than ourselves. The real honest truth is our fear of rejection or judgment from others very much controlled who we told and how. I have always had a fantastic relationship with my Mom and my entire families is supportive and always have been but the truth is I even wondered if my mom would take me seriously and respond in the way I hoped.
Needless to say in time we did tell our closest friends and I told my Mom and they all reacted wonderfully. Mom insisted I tell my brother and he and his entire family responded so positively I began to feel brave and told a few more people. Karen still hasn’t told many folks and she may never but that is her decision and I understand and respect it.
We didn’t really invite anyone and while some of that was still the fear of rejection quite a bit of it was practicality. We had decided to get married in Massachusetts (I’ll blog about that at a later time) and we knew it would be expensive. We also planned to take some private time for a honeymoon and knew we wouldn’t have a lot of time to spend with guests and loved ones so it would have been unfair to expect anyone to come. There was also the whole issue of a license and the three-day waiting period, which meant the ceremony, would be on a Tuesday so flying in for the weekend wasn’t an option. My Mom and my brother Matt along with his family insisted on coming. I don’t know if they really know what that meant to us but I hope they do.
So what about the rest of the world? How did people react and was it what we expected? We had some wonderful surprises – I already mentioned Mom and Matt but also Lisa, Seamus and Finn. The boys were fantastic and all of them played a very big part in making the ceremony even more special to us. My Dad and Kathy couldn’t come but I know my Dad and how badly he hates to travel so I didn’t feel that was personal and they sent us a wonderful gift that even included personalized wine with our names and the date.
Those we told before hand mostly reacted as we expected with a few disappointments – nothing horrible just a lack of enthusiasm and the honest questioning based on my past that I can’t fault anyone for.
The biggest surprise mostly came after and so far that has been very positive. I guess I should say that many of our friends and extended family found out after the fact when we both changed our Facebook status and I posted a picture from the ceremony. We quickly received many congratulations from a variety of folks and in many cases these were people who we don’t have the opportunity to interact with often so we really didn’t know how they would feel about the whole same-sex marriage issue. We got beautiful cards from a few folks and I guess for me the one from my Aunt and Uncle was most touching. I have never discussed my sexuality with them and even though I have never really hidden anything, I had no idea what to expect when they saw my post on their daughter’s Facebook. I also was pleasantly surprised when an old family friend who has strong religious beliefs congratulated us and was supportive – I never doubted her love for me but I really didn’t know how the whole marriage thing would sit with her.
There are still a lot of people who we haven’t heard from at all but that is the beauty of telling the world via Facebook – We can always tell ourselves they didn’t see the post and forever avoid hurt feelings.
Overall, if I were going to do this again I would be less hesitant. I think I underestimated some folks and I feel bad about that. I also know there will always be those who doubt the seriousness or even are offended but I have just decided they aren’t really worth worrying about. If someone chooses to believe we got married to be in their face that is a little self centered but still what they believe and we are all entitled to our own beliefs. If there are some who doubt the seriousness I don’t think we can do anything but be happy and prove them wrong in the next 30 or 40 years.
This was a rather long post so I’ll sign off for now!