Archive for the ‘Modern marriage’ Category

My lucky thirteen

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

Thirteen years ago today, Matt and I were legally married in our south Minneapolis backyard.  We tend not to place too much weight on this date, though, and not simply because we feel this right ought to be extended to non-hetero folk.  As I mentioned to the hubby last night, the legal contract we signed on June 6, 1999, was not nearly as transformative as the partnership that began a year and a half earlier.

Tip: take your brand-new steady to Alexandria’s Runestone Museum if you want your love to last.  Nothing says commitment like a replica Viking longship!

Feminists tend not to write about the power of deep love, especially the love a cis-hetero-woman might feel for a cis-hetero-man.  It tends to lead to the tired old habit of questioning said woman’s feminist bona fides, especially when so many take on faith that a proper feminist is wholly independent.  As recently as two weeks ago I was accused (by a fellow cis-hetero-woman, natch) of being “controlled” by my husband, when in fact I was merely honoring his wishes about a matter concerning our children.

Thich Nhat Hanh writes a great deal about what he calls “interbeing.”  A flower cannot be itself without the sun, the soil, the rain.  Similarly, no person is every truly independent; we depend upon each other every moment of every day.  The challenge, then, is to deeply question the nature of our interdependence.  Are we connected with love, honesty, trust, and compassion?  Are we equals, or are we locked in a continual battle for power and dominance?

In 2006, a group of college friends and I gathered for a long-overdue reunion.  In a quiet moment in our hotel room, my friends Karla and Kirsti told me something wonderful.  “You seem so happy,” they said.  “So together.  So….yourself.”

Tip: should you decide to breed, be sure to pass on your love of dorky photo ops to the little ones!

I cherished their telling me this.  Karla and Kirsti and I have been friends since we were gawky, drunken, idiotic 19-year-olds.   They’d seen me through crap you wouldn’t believe, even if I changed all the names and sold it as a bildungsroman of the go-go ’90s. In 2006, when they saw the change in me, they didn’t say that I was now all better.  Post-adolescence made me a little dumb, yes, but I was a fine person already, just the way I was.

In 1997 (when I met Matt for the first time), I knew far too many people who weren’t convinced of that fact.  I am grateful to those who were, Karla and Kirsti among them.

But not as grateful as I am for my partner, my co-parent, my best friend, my boyfriend-for-life, my ever-lovin’ HUSBAND Matt.

Happy anniversary!





The evolution of an ally

Monday, June 6th, 2011

An excerpt from The Radical Housewife, chapter four, shared in honor of the 12th anniversary today of my civil marriage with a fella who is not, fortunately, named Mattias Schwarz:

….neither youth nor hormones last forever. Somewhere around our ten year college reunion, everyone’s attention shifted from desire to domesticity, so it seemed natural that marriage would dominate our discussion of gay rights in the 21st century.

Unlike the college come-outs and come-ons, Kelly and Gretchen came out by moving in next door. No one could misunderstand two women, a toddler boy, and a hyperactive mixed-breed terrier moving a truck full of furniture into a tidy Minneapolis bungalow—they were a family. For once, identifying as gay had nothing at all to do with sex. Hell, they were new parents, so we knew from experience that they weren’t doin’ it! Instead, the story of their lives together was a lesson for Matt and me on a topic far less arousing: good old-fashioned civil rights.

The battle for same-sex marriage first made Minnesota headlines in July 2002, when our friendly, toque-wearing northern neighbors on the Ontario Superior Court ruled that Canada’s current marriage laws were discriminatory. Gay marriage was legal right in our backyard. “We could get to Thunder Bay in eight hours!” I exulted.

Kelly and Gretchen glanced at each other warily. “I don’t think so,” Gretchen said.

“But I want to buy you a melon baller,” I said. “Or a Jell-O mold in the shape of a giant strawberry.”

Kelly crinkled her nose with distaste. “Is that the kind of stuff you two got?” I told her that Matt and I opposed the idea of a wedding registry on principle. I went further and explained that so much of the modern American wedding constituted re-enacting traditions put in place when women were considered property to be handed from man to man in a ritual financial exchange. When Kelly regained consciousness, I returned to the subject of her Canadian marriage.

“Go ahead and buy us a melon baller if you want to,” Gretchen said. “Just don’t make us drive to Thunder Bay for it.” Her stern face told us that the discussion was over.

I cursed myself for weeks for being such a fucking idiot. The Happy Hetero just told two sensible adults that all of their problems would be fixed after ten minutes in an Ontario courtroom! I thought they’d be freed from discrimination once they signed a provincial paper, produced in a country not their own, that would mean less than nothing to the border guards they would encounter on their return trip, guards who would still log them as two single persons: one an American citizen, one a Permanent Resident. Nothing would change.

Gretchen, unlike Kelly, was not born in the United States. When we first got to know one another, she was studying madly for her citizenship exams, a series of quizzes on Constitutional trivia that I might have passed if I were still a 17-year-old student in AP American Government, but would definitely flunk today. “A test she wouldn’t have to take if I’d been a man,” Kelly grumbled.

Kelly and Gretchen didn’t intend to offer me more than friendship, but they inadvertently gave me something nearly as valuable: an education in discrimination that this naïve straight woman sorely needed. For years, I thought that being an ally was about getting vogueing invites, ending the use of “gay” as a catch-all slur, and dropping my heterosexual assumptions. Through Gretchen and Kelly, I learned of the pervasive inequality that exists in state and federal law, the very legal system that Gretchen understood better than the average straight guy who was too busy scratching his balls to vote.

Kelly and I were both good American girls, born in the land of the free, rewarded with Social Security Cards and easily obtained passports. Had I fallen for a lederhosen-wearing Bavarian named Matthias Schwarz, instead of a professor’s brat born within a mile of UC-Berkeley, his road to citizenship would be assured. Kelly, on the other hand, had no such opportunity. She could not legally sponsor the citizenship of the foreign-born person she loved. “If we’re not legally married, as Kelly put it, “our relationship doesn’t exist.”


Equal Marriage NOW

Minnesotans United for all Families

Feminist + feminist = awesome

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011

I posted the following in reply to Jill at Feministe, who wondered, while reading her New York Times last Sunday: “are feminist marriages more satisfying?

I’m a hetero feminist woman married to a hetero feminist man. On paper, we look like a “traditional” pair, as he earns our family’s living while I tend to our two kiddos.

But thanks to feminism, we understand that home-based caregiving, while unpaid, is a job like any other. My at-home parent status does not give my husband license to lounge on the couch after work while I scrub myself silly. The household grunt work is still everyone’s responsibility, just as it would be if I worked outside the home. Feminism upends “traditional” expectations, to everyone’s benefit: my kids have a close and loving relationship with their dad, who puts in quality time AND quantity time with them; my time building a freelance writing career is not seen as a detriment to our family; our foundation of mutual trust and respect gets us through the times in our relationship that are shitty.

FEMINISM is our secret! Pass it on!

I can protect my marriage on my own, thank you.

Monday, May 17th, 2010

What follows is a heated letter submitted to the StarTribune on the occasion of my idiot governor’s veto of a bill that would offer some legal protections to the surviving partner in a same-sex couple. As much as Sarah Palin was mocked for quitting her job, the alternative that we’re living here in MN is a hell of a lot worse. Pawlenty is campaigning for national office at my home state’s expense.

Dear Editor:

As a lifelong Minnesotan, I am outraged by the governor’s veto of a bill that would extend “death rights” to the surviving partner of a same-sex couple. It’s obvious that this governor cares more about making a statement to voters in New Hampshire and Florida than he does about the needs of grieving families here at home.

In defending the veto, Pawlenty claims that “marriage—as defined by a man and a woman—should remain elevated in our society at a special level,” yet I fail to see how allowing a gay man the power to execute his life partner’s final wishes threatens my own civil marriage. A lesbian partner’s wrongful death lawsuit wouldn’t rock my Minnesota marriage contract one bit, Pawlenty’s claims to the contrary. If he fears this law’s effect on his own marriage, he ought to spend less time on the road campaigning and more time at the governor’s mansion.

Whether or not heterosexual marriage is “special” has no bearing on the facts behind this bill. Minnesotans, as Pawlenty should know, have compassion for all families that are under stress. If Pawlenty spent more time in St. Paul, he might understand that. By vetoing this common sense legislation, he’s proved that he is either out of touch with Minnesotans, willfully ignorant of their wishes, or both.

Sincerely yours,

The Radical Housewife.

Dedicated to a loyal reader who is currently vacationing in scenic Queens, NY

Friday, August 7th, 2009

I miss you.

Handsome devils

Friday, July 17th, 2009

I made such a big stink yesterday about the fact that my TV boyfriend Jemaine Clement was nominated for an Emmy award that I gave Matt pause. “Wait, wait,” he said. “You only like him because he’s funny, don’t you? You don’t actually think he’s attractive, do you?”

My goodness, whatever could you mean? Said Matt, “he’s kinda weird looking.”

“Hmm, let’s see,” I said, mulling this over. “What do I find physically attractive? Messy dark hair, brown eyes, hipster glasses, scruffy sideburns, broad shoulders…. mmm….get over here and give your wife a big kiss.”

A conversation between spouses

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

Matt: Oh no. You have music on your blog? You have to get rid of it.
Me: Why?
Matt: It’s dumb.
Me: But I like it. It makes me look cool.
Matt: It’s not cool. I hate it when I load a site and it starts making noise at me.
Me: Even if it’s “Cameltoe?”
Matt: ESPECIALLY if it’s “Cameltoe.”
Me: I think Fannypack lends me an air of ironic hipster whimsy. It’s a very important part of my carefully cultivated online image.
Matt: Don’t you want people to take your writing seriously?
Me: Yes, of course.
Matt: Then you have to get rid of it.
Me: Okay Mr. Smartypants, would you accept some indie rock on my site? Which Animal Collective song would you recommend? Can I crack the seal on that new box set so I can listen for myself?
Matt: (horrified) NOOOOOO! That’s a collector’s item! I’ve seen it for sale on eBay for $700 already. Don’t touch it.
Me: I love you.
Matt: I love you too.