The D-Word and the F-Word

I’ve been pretty quiet on here since my divorce in June. It’s certainly not because I haven’t had anything to write about; to the contrary, I could have published a litany of posts about marriage, relationships, and divorce, but I’m glad I didn’t because my thoughts and experiences were so jumbled by depression and stress and uncertainty that my thoughts not only wouldn’t have been coherent but would’ve been fairly cynical too. Now, I’m finally staring to feel better. Not better as in “Everything is fine!” but better as in “I don’t want to kill myself anymore!” I’m kinda like the dog in that GIF:

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Which is way better than I used to be, so I’ll take it!

Here is part one of my post-divorce thoughts, which I’ve entitled “The D-Word and the F-Word.”

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Whenever I tell people I got divorced, their faces contort into sorrow and they moan, “I’m soooo soooorry!” Then I’m immediately placed in the awkward position where I either 1) have to find the energy to smile and happily reassure them that I’m fine, or 2) if I don’t have the energy to do #1, just shrug it off. By this point I’m used to the constant outpouring of sympathy, and I’ve been through enough therapy that I genuinely am feeling good about myself, so I’m a little jaded by the Pity Train that starts chugging my way every time someone notices that my ring finger is conspicuously bare.

I’ve recently been given a new position at work that I’m really excited about. I was introduced to a new colleague I’d be working with last week, and when she asked if I was married and had a family, I responded, “No, I actually got divorced this summer.” I braced myself for the oncoming onslaught of simpering platitudes. But instead, she replied,

“Congratulations!”

I literally hugged her. Finally, an appropriate response to what I had been through! “Well,” she told me, a little flustered, “Either you decided to leave him, and in that case, it was the best decision for you. Or, he left you, which in that case, it’s his loss and now you can be with someone who deserves you! In both scenarios it was for the best.”

YES!!! So much yes!

Don’t get me wrong…getting divorced is hard. It is painful. It was the most difficult thing I’ve ever been through in my life. However, being divorced is great! Not necessarily “wake-up-every-morning-with-a-smile-on-your-face” great, but “wake-up-every-morning-and-even-if-I’ve-been-crying-all-night-I-can-pull-myself-together-and-get-through-the-day-knowing-I-have-made-the-choices-necessary-to-eventually-obtain-happiness” great. Just as my colleague said, whenever anyone makes the decision to part ways, it is never taken lightly and is always a result of serious deliberation over what is in the couple’s best interest.

In my case, Scott and I had developed different life goals and values throughout the course of our marriage. The things we each wanted out of life in 2018 were very different than what we wanted when we got married in 2015. There was no way to reconcile or compromise on the things we differed on, and we would have resented each other had we stayed together. Whatever pain we felt immediately after the split pales in comparison to the unhappiness we would have experienced as an incompatible couple later in life.

So, it kind of annoys me that the D-word–“divorce”–is so stigmatized in today’s society. It is associated with another dirty word, the F-word: “failure.” You got divorced, so your marriage failed. You failed to be a good wife. When I tell people that I’m now single, I am haunted by those stigmas. But the thing is, I honestly don’t believe that’s true! I could’ve done a lot of things differently in my marriage, I regret the way that I handled (or didn’t handle) certain issues, and I sure as hell could’ve been a “better” wife by some definitions, but I DO NOT feel like a failure. In fact, because of what I’ve experienced this summer, I actually feel like I’m a good person for the first time in my life. Flawed, yes, but ultimately good; the kind of nuanced flux of goodness and weakness just like most other people in the world.

My close friends already know this; I genuinely thought I was a bad person all my life because I did not “measure up” in so many ways. It’s interesting that going through something that society labels as “BAD” made me see how absurd that belief was.

Divorce is rough. I’m lucky that we didn’t have kids or pets together, that our shared assets were minimal, and that Scott was cooperative throughout the process. But it was still rough. I’m not trying to minimize the pain any divorced person experiences in any way. However, I do think we as individuals and society at large can start to distance ourselves from conflating divorce with failure.

I used to believe that “Everything happens for a reason.” Now, I’m not so sure. My approach to life these days is more like “Shit happens,” and that’s been incredibly liberating. Instead of constantly searching for a cosmic reason for my suffering, I can just deal with it head on. Marriages aren’t always great. People get divorced. Shit happens. It’s your choice whether to gripe about how people don’t stay married anymore, or you can realize that the reason people stayed married in the past was because women actually had no rights, and try to understand that just because others make different decisions than you doesn’t mean they are wrong or bad. Just a thought.

Yes, I got divorced. Stop feeling sorry for me; I’m not a failure!

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Dealbreakers

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Nope. Just, nope.

A few months in to our relationship, Scott and I were walking to his car in a parking lot. We passed one of those Volkswagen beetles with the eyelashes above the headlights. Scott stopped in his tracks, turned to me, and said gravely, “If I found out that you had a car with eyelashes on it, I would dump you. Seriously. Dealbreaker.”

I laughed about it, but as we continued dating and even into our engagement and our marriage, we learned things about each other that were shocking and made us question the foundation of our relationship. Things like:

  • not loving Lord of the Rings enough
  • thinking Emma Stone is overrated
  • liking LL Cool J more than Jamie Foxx
  • liking Parks & Rec more than 30 Rock
  • thinking that raspberry jam is better than strawberry
  • drinking Diet Coke at 8:30 AM
  • loving Larry Fitzgerald too much
  • hating Larry Fitzgerald because your husband loves him more than you
  • not remembering the names of all Game of Thrones characters
  • knowing “too much” about Game of Thrones
  • never using lotion
  • hogging the covers
  • having too many shoes
  • bugging me about having too many shoes
  • avoiding emptying the dishwasher
  • avoiding emptying the dishwasher

(In case you’re curious, Scott’s atrocities are in pink and mine are in blue, because DISMANTLE THE PATRIARCHY!)

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The best show ever…WAY BETTER THAN PARKS & REC

Despite us screaming, “DEALBREAKER!” as we discovered these troubling beliefs and habits, obviously, none of these things are a big deal. So why do so many people–both in real life and in the media–end relationships over these petty “dealbreakers”? I once had a friend who broke up with a guy because she “couldn’t picture him playing football with their kids.” I just watched an episode of a TV show where a guy broke up with an otherwise completely unobjectionable girl because she used a different type of coding software than he did. WTF? No wonder the divorce rate is 50%.

Before I got married, I just kind of assumed that I would meet someone that I have things in common with, and since we liked the same things we’d like being around each other and then we’d stay together. I dated several people before meeting my husband and eventually one of us would end it for one reason or another, but I never really thought about why. Was it really because he didn’t like Billy Madison? Or because he was too short? Or because he had a dumb tattoo? No…there were deeper issues going on in all those relationships that caused them to end.

Ever since my decision to get married, I started thinking about what my actual dealbreakers would be. Things I could not see past in a partner. Things that Scott did not possess to any degree, which is why I married him:

  • believing that women are not equal to men
  • insecure about masculinity; tendency to be irrationally possessive or jealous
  • not supporting me in my career or education
  • wanting kids right away
  • wanting a ton of kids
  • being anti-religion
  • being over-religious
  • abusive in any way
  • dependence on drugs and/or alcohol
  • infidelity

Honestly, that was all I could think of. Anything else I could probably deal with. And when looking at the reasons I ended some of my past relationships: distance, timing, “I really need to focus on school,” participating in Occupy Wall Street, or possible gingivitis, it’s really because they showed signs of one of these actual dealbreakers above.

I think we expect all too much from our partners. One of these irrational expectations is that they will enjoy all the same things we enjoy or share the same opinions on entertainment, politics, family, you name it. Anyone who expects this from their partner may be very disappointed. I fully expect to spend the rest of my life watching Lord of the Rings while my husband rolls his eyes on the couch next to me, and he will watch Arizona Cardinals games while I loudly object to all the nice things he says about Larry Fitzgerald. But we chose each other not because of our jam preferences or opinions on NBC comedies, we chose each other because we measured up to the list that really matters.

Now this is the part where you say “Aaaaawwwwwwwwww!”

I Miss Being Single…Kind Of.

 

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I couldn’t help myself.

This is my first Valentine’s Day as a married person. However, Scott and I aren’t doing anything because 1) I’m about to get on a plane from Oakland to Houston for a business trip and 2) I normally don’t make a fuss about Valentine’s Day anyway, regardless of if I’m in a relationship or not. I know that I’m loved, and while I appreciate gifts and gestures from the many loved ones in my life, I find this holiday to be contrived and tacky. [Insert grumpy rant here]

However, on this day commemorating unrealistic expectations based on outdated gender roles romantic love, it does have me thinking a lot about the new committed relationship I’ve entered into and how my life has changed because of it. The thing is–and many people who are close to me already know this–I used to love being single. Not in the classic “boy-crazy” way that some people are, but I liked talking about guys, texting them, flirting, going on dates, meeting people at bars and parties, etc. I never had many serious relationships, though, and the few that I did were disasters, which only solidified my position on romance. While some people balk at the idea of being “alone” and crave constant affection and companionship, I was quite the opposite. I enjoyed my freedom and independence and relished my solo status.

Scott was very much the same way, and we met during a perfect storm in both of our lives. We had both reached a point where we started to consider settling down–after I had had my fill of adventure (and a whole lot of other crap–no pun intended) in the Peace Corps and he graduated from law school and got a full-time job as an attorney–and that’s obviously exactly what happened. It happened quickly by almost any standard, and friends will often ask me, “Isn’t it crazy that you’re married now?!” But my honest answer is, “No, not really.” The progression of our relationship, to me, felt totally natural, which I guess is an indication that it’s a good relationship. But there are some moments, like when a friend and I are reminiscing about people we used to date, that I’m like: “Wait…that part of my life is over now.”

Sometimes I contemplate whether or not I “miss” being single. And the answer is about 25% yes and 75% no. Yes, being in a long-term relationship doesn’t always include the butterflies in the pit of your stomach, the “rush” of pursuing someone you like, the exciting possibilities when you enter a crowded room on a Saturday night. There’s a lot of arguments over stupid things, conversations that go like: “Where do you wanna eat tonight?” “I dunno,” and spending time with one another’s farts.

But at the same time, I look back on my years spent reveling in the dating world and remember all the things that TOTALLY SUCKED about dating. I hated not knowing how the guy felt about me. I hated not getting my texts returned, and I hated getting texts from people I didn’t like and brainstorming how to go about turning them down. I hated the process of opening up, being vulnerable, and running the risk of being rejected because he didn’t like what I had to share. Dating, while it can be fun, is also doubly miserable.

When I first started dating Scott, I was shocked by how forward he was. He asked me on pre-planned, specific dates. He texted me every day, and it wasn’t after midnight when he was drunk. He sat by me in public and wasn’t embarrassed to be seen with me. In fact, he even seemed to be proud to be dating me. And he had a future with me in mind. It’s pretty sad that this behavior was surprising to me, but that’s the world we live in. It’s remarkable how much shoddy treatment I put up with as a single person. I wish I had had higher standards for myself, but it’s so easy to say that in hindsight.

I like being in a relationship, and I never thought I’d say that. I like having a husband, or as I call him, a “life buddy.” He’s someone that I can go through everything with together. When I was single I was always afraid of losing my freedom, but it doesn’t really feel that way at all. I feel perfectly free when I’m with my husband. I guess you just have to meet the right person to make it all worth it.

But in case you were wondering, single people, Valentine’s Day doesn’t suck any less as a married person.

Lame Married Couple

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Scott and I decided that if we had our own reality show, it would be called “Too Tired to Have Fun”

When I was single, I knew many people who, upon marrying, seemed to disappear off of the face of the earth and become completely immersed in their new life with their spouse. It was not only annoying but hurtful in some cases. So, now that you have a husband/wife you don’t need my friendship anymore? Do you think you can’t relate to me because you’re married now? Does getting married somehow change who you are as a person? At every sight of a white dress, it seemed that the beginning of every new marriage also symbolized the end of my relationship with that person–or, at the very least, our relationship would be different from that point forward.

Now that I’ve gone to the dark side–a.k.a. gotten married myself–I have a completely different perspective. And hopefully, this post may be helpful to people who aren’t married or in a committed, serious relationship who feel the same way about their friends.

There are many reasons that it may seem like people abandon their friends when they get hitched:

  • When you choose to marry someone, it’s probably because you like spending time with that person. I mean, I certainly hope so. In Scott’s and my case, we are each other’s favorite person to spend time with. (At least that’s what he tells me. I strongly suspect he may love Larry Fitzgerald more than he loves me.) Now that we live together and have signed a contract stating that we like each other enough to receive tax benefits to compensate for any annoying qualities the other has, we are kind of “settled in.” It’s a natural thing that is not born out of any sinister desire to neglect other aspects of our lives, it is simply because we have designated each other as a life partner and are behaving as such. Just as single people spend the most time around people they like most, people in relationships do the same thing.
  • People who are at different stages of their lives have more difficulty staying friends. It could be marriage, it could be one friend moving away for college and the other staying locally, it could be one friend deciding that black tar heroin is delicious and the other being like “WHOA, no thanks, I’ve seen Pulp Fiction, I don’t want John Travolta to stab me in the chest.” People choose their own respective paths in life, and friends who don’t make the same choices can find it difficult to relate to each other. There are plenty of people who don’t talk to me anymore now that I’m married. They aren’t necessarily close to me so I’m not upset about it, but I’ve definitely noticed that they’ve gone silent since I announced I was engaged. However, on the flip side, it’s definitely not impossible for married and non-married friends to not only co-exist but thrive. The best example is my BFF Kayla, whose efforts have kept our friendship going through studying abroad, Peace Corps, differing political views, and both of our weddings.
  • Marriage IS a big deal. At least, it is to me. I never took it as a given that I would get married. I’m a pretty difficult person to deal with. I found not only the right person but the ideal person to do this type of insane endeavor with. We didn’t make this decision lightly. So, of course I’m not going to live exactly the way I did when I was single. I’ve put up with a lot of garbage from other men. I’m not going to waste time with people who don’t have the same level of regard for me that my husband does.
  • Don’t assume that because a friend of yours is caught up in her new life that it means she doesn’t love you. It may be because planning a wedding is THE MOST ANNOYING THING IN THE WORLD, or it may just be because she’s really happy with this new development in her life (and you do have to be happy for her, but you can totally complain about it behind her back). A good friend will always love you, no matter what. Unfortunately, not everyone is as good of a friend as Kayla, and you may have to make a decision to move on at some point.

All of that being said, I am still afraid that Scott and I will become a lame married couple who never does anything except Netflix and chill. (Not like there’s anything wrong with Netflix and chill.) I don’t want to lose my friendships or weaken them because it’s so much easier to just stay in with my husband, and I don’t want to cut myself off from new experiences. When you’re single, it’s so much easier to step out of your comfort zone because there’s nothing really holding you back. Now, Scott and I are not only happy but we’re content. We don’t really have anything motivating us to go out of our comfort zone. And although I understand that much better now, it’s still disconcerting.

At some point I hope to write a post telling you how Scott and I have become an exciting married couple who socialize with sophisticated people and try exotic cheeses and do extreme sports, but so far we are still pretty boring. But in the mean time, to my single friends, don’t be a stranger!!! I’m not weird* now and I haven’t forgotten about you. Married people need their friends as much as we do when we’re single, we just might not show it in the way we used to.

*Just kidding, I am totally weird, and that is probably the primary reason why we are friends.

Two Becoming One

It is Thursday…how ’bout a Spice Girls throwback? 🙂

I’m used to being alone. And I don’t mean that in a “poor me, I’m the female protagonist in a romantic comedy,” kind of way–I’m happy with myself and I’m happy with my life. Yet despite the fact that every personality test I’ve ever taken has labeled me an extrovert (WTF, Meyers-Briggs?), I’m really comfortable being by myself, and I even prefer being alone in certain situations. I am a very independent person–to a fault, as some people might tell you.

That’s another factor that makes my transition from “single” to “married” more complicated. I’ve spent 25 years living my life as an individual. Although I am a daughter and a sister and a friend, I usually think of myself as just, well, me. When I make decisions I think of how it will affect the people close to me, but I am not accountable to anyone to the extent that I would be if I were married or had children. But that’s all about to change. More and more often, Scott and I are faced with situations that require us to make decisions about how to merge our lives together when we’ve both lived as successful adult individuals for so long. It feels weird, knowing that after September 5th, it’s not just “me,” it’s “we.” And although that’s one of the challenging but healthy things about marriage, how do two people go about combining two lives into one? Or to what extent do we combine some aspects of our lives, but leave others separate?

What to do about my last name was the beginning. Now that we’ve rented an apartment together and will soon be shacking up, that opens a variety of other doors. How do we pay bills? Do we join our bank accounts? Do we keep them separate? How will we determine who does the housework? Who prepares meals? Will Scott be sufficiently impressed with my wifely sandwich-making abilities, or will he divorce me to be with a younger, hotter woman who can cook sammiches better than I can?

I know you’re thinking, “But you’ve lived with other people in the past, right?” (And you’re also thinking, “Kate, you cook very delicious sammiches so you shouldn’t worry.” Very true.) Yes, but this is a whole different ball game. My dad always gave my brothers and I stern lectures about emptying the dishwasher, and then we’d act guilty for a second before running off to play Legos, but that kind of behavior doesn’t exactly fly when you’re in an adult committed relationship. Similarly, griping about your roommates is a naturally accepted part of the college experience, but to some extent things are more clear-cut because there’s a landlord or property management company collecting your checks each month, boundaries are established legally and/or socially, and–depending on the situation–there is more of an implicit understanding about personal space, privacy, sharing belongings, etc.

As soon as you have two people in love, things get weird. The problem is, a husband-and-wife (or husband-and-husband or wife-and-wife) unit not only has a romantic relationship, a physical relationship, and an emotional relationship, they also must have a financial relationship, a logistical relationship, a life planning relationship, a decorating taste relationship, etc., etc., etc. If your relationship is challenged or failing in one of these aspects, it can affect some or all of the other aspects. We sure expect A LOT from our partners.

And as with every other decision Scott and I have made preparing for marriage, every option becomes increasingly relative and politically charged. “Kate, are you gonna change your last name or keep it?” “You guys should definitely start having kids right away.” “You should freeze your eggs and then grow your baby in a tube after you turn 55.” “What are you doing renting an apartment? You should buy a house. It’s a buyer’s market!” “WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU DON’T HAVE WEDDING COLORS?!” Maybe part of the problem is that, unlike being someone’s lazy kid or someone’s college roommate, there’s no one set of rules for how to approach marriage in this diverse modern world. Back in the day when people got married significantly younger, things were easier–or more accurately, simpler–because both parties spent less time establishing themselves as individuals before they got married, a.k.a. merged their lives. And, not to mention, it was usually the wife whose life just kind of fused in to her husband’s identity, the product of which is “Mr. and Mrs. [husband’s first and last name]” and other stupid traditions that are stupid.

Among the many things Scott and I agree on is that although we are happily progressing towards a marriage, we want to maintain our individuality. This means finding a balance between being a couple and being two people that happened to say “hey, I like you, I wanna enter into a legally binding agreement that means I’ll do most stuff with you but maybe not everything with you.” In my opinion I think we’ve done a great job of that so far. Scott goes to NBA Summer League games with his buddies and I have brunch with my girlfriends, we take turns treating each other to meals and running errands and doing favors for one another, and we’re planning on opening a joint bank account for bills while keeping our existing personal accounts after the wedding. I remind him of stuff when he forgets it, and he cools me down when I get all worked up about dumb stuff, like receiving envelopes addressed to “Mr. and Mrs. Scott Rogers.” We’re two different people, but we’ve agreed to be a team.

Things are bound to get more complicated the longer we’re married: right now we both work and we both have good full-time jobs, and that may change. We don’t have kids, and that will probably change too. We get along easily, and that is bound to not always be the case any given day. So until then, just like with everything else, I’m taking it in stride. Or, I should say, *we’re* taking it in stride.

Marriage Is Insane

I adore actor and comedian Aziz Ansari and love watching him on Parks & Rec, but to me he really shines during his standup routines. Scott is obsessed with standup comedy so, shortly after we got engaged, I sent him a link to one of my favorite Aziz bits, knowing he would appreciate it. You can watch here:

I laughed when I first watched it and Scott and I both laughed when we watched it together a few weeks ago. But the sentiment is true on a deeper level: what incentive is there to get married in a culture that places decreasing importance on tradition and increasing importance on the self?

There’s nothing that will incite the unsolicited advice and opinions of others more than making a major life decision. I’m all too familiar with this; when I chose to join and then was accepted into the Peace Corps, I stumped a good deal of people who didn’t understand why I’d choose to do such a thing rather than, say, go on a mission or find a husband. If your life doesn’t “make sense” to someone then they’ll inevitably fill in all the blanks with their own assumptions. I know because I’ve done this…A LOT, mostly with people younger than me who have chosen to get married relatively quickly—as I have just chosen to do myself! My days of rolling my eyes at my Facebook feed in the advent of another engagement status are done. I’m “one of them” now.

The point I’m trying to make is that in this world of endless choices, there’s nothing you can pick that will please everyone. I promise. Two months in to Scott’s and my relationship, people started asking why we weren’t engaged yet. Now that we are engaged, other people are scoffing that we didn’t date long enough before we chose to get engaged, or that our wedding date is too soon. Still others want to know why we’re waiting so long to get married. And lo and behold, those who were anywhere from silent to skeptical about my decision to join the Peace Corps are now fawning over me and my beautiful, silly ring, and the progressive types who cheered my decision to serve in Albania are shocked over my decision to settle down and get married. See what I mean?

Maybe it’s just because I’m getting older, but it seems that choices surrounding marriage and romantic commitment in general have become increasingly scrutinized in recent years. The way people relate to each other is developing, expanding, and in some cases, exploding. I can’t go 24 hours without coming across some article on Elite Daily describing the new relationship trend: “Why Your Polyandrous Domestic Partner Won’t Follow You Back on Instagram!” “What Your Bisexual Webcam Sidepiece Really Thinks of Your Cleanse Diet!” And let me go on record to say I think it’s GREAT! I love the idea that people are challenging tradition, that they’re willing to explore new ideas, that they’re trying to get more in touch with who they are and what will make them happy. Relationships are important, arguably the most important thing ever. And everyone’s idea of a fulfilling relationship is going to look different to him or her or whatever non-gender-specific pronoun you want to use.

However, I feel that this relationship choice that I’ve made—one of plain old, boring heterosexual marriage—is becoming out-of-style. And that’s fair; I am doing literally the same thing that people have been doing for thousands of years. I’m not part of a hip social movement. There’s no one rallying to my cause other than the oldest, whitest, male-est politicians. So, to some extent I can understand the underwhelming enthusiasm.

What I have a more difficult time understanding are people who have decided a certain way of life isn’t for them—either through trial and error or judgmental preconceived notions—who then choose to condemn anyone who makes different choices than they do. I recently spoke to someone who, in the same breath as he congratulated me in, claimed, “but I don’t really believe in marriage.” This man had been married over three times and each had ended in divorce. So, let me get this straight…your marriages didn’t work out, therefore the institution itself is inherently flawed? You don’t notice a common denominator in each of those relationships that might point to the underlying problem? Is the issue in “your marriage” the “marriage” part, or the “your” part?

runaway-brideWhat I don’t think people who make these types of comments, share these types of articles, or assert these beliefs realize is that I stay up at night thinking about them. My hands shake when I drive my car or type on my keyboard or wash the dishes. My heart beats a little faster than it normally does. I’m cautious and defensive and terse when I discuss my wedding. I am terrified of marriage, because it is, indeed, insane. The prospect of choosing someone, legally binding yourself to him, and bearing with the inevitable ups and downs of a human relationship whilst trying to stave off the stigma of divorce is very intimidating. I can understand why people don’t want to do it. It places you in a very vulnerable position.

But the worst part is, I think that for the most part I’m just doing this to myself. Today I broke down and Googled “marriage anxiety,” and came across this article that really spoke to me. Whenever I find myself suffering from anxiety, I find it helps for me to write down the things I worry about and then point out how ridiculous they are. I did that today, and here’s what I found. Nearly ALL of my fears about marriage are:

  • Completely hypothetical or abstract. Some people I know who are against making marital or romantic commitments use the reasoning, “Well, what if you marry someone but there’s someone better out there and you never have the freedom to meet them?” Well…what if? I’ve done enough boyfriend-hopping in my life to know that “the grass is always greener” theory is 100% true. It’s all new and exciting at first, but if you spend enough time with any person, you’ll find qualities you don’t like. (Unless you are Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.) I cope with the less-than-desirable qualities my family and friends have, and they do the same for me. Why should I expect my romantic relationships to be any different? I don’t just ditch my friends and tell them, “You know, there might be a better friend out there for me, I just don’t want to be tied down to you so I’m gonna move on with my life.”
  • Reinforced by cultural misconceptions. For some reason, we as a culture have decided that you can’t be with someone unless he or she or ze is a completely and utterly perfect specimen, and that there’s such a thing as “The One,” and that every fleeting second of a good relationship has to be filled with passionate fireworks. Occasionally Scott will forget his wallet and ask me to pay for our boba tea or wear a pair of pants I told him I don’t like and my mind is filled with magazine articles telling me that our relationship is DOOMED!!! When, really, he’s pretty great, but he’s also a human being just like I am.
  • Causing me to overlook what’s really important. What’s really important is that I’m doing what I want and that I’m happy with the decisions I make. I would give the same advice to someone who doesn’t ever want to get married, or is in a same-sex relationship, or prefers having multiple partners instead of one. Scott and I made a decision together, and he’s someone who has agreed to love me and stick by me no matter what. How does it get any better than that?

So yeah, marriage is definitely insane. But so is everything else I’ve ever done and it’s paid off tremendously. I can tell you just during the time I’ve been engaged, I’ve learned so much that wouldn’t have been possible had I not agreed to something as insane as this. I’ve become a softer, gentler person in the face of a hardening world. I’ve come to realize things about myself that I hadn’t had the opportunity to face before doing something like this and have become more introspective in the process. And more importantly, my relationship has improved and progressed.

Also…tax purposes.

Should I change my name?

A lot of women take their husband’s last name after they get married, or hyphenate it, or what have you. I’ve never been stoked about changing my name, due to a) laziness and b) feminism–in precisely that order. (Mostly laziness.) It’s one of those traditions that I don’t really understand. If it’s really about two families merging into one, why don’t both spouses change or hyphenate their names? Or why don’t you see the guy take his wife’s name half the time? There are some men who do this, but as my hairdresser opines, “That’s just weird.” And even though there isn’t a specific reason behind it, I think a lot of people would agree. It’s one of those patriarchal traditions that people don’t think twice about, but I think way too much about everything all the time always and it makes my life more difficult and I end up writing posts like this.

I made a pros-and-cons list as I am wont to do when making decisions. Here’s what I came up with:

Pros to Changing My Name to My Fiancé’s:

  • By sticking to the tradition, we’ll “make more sense” to other people. When we introduce ourselves as Mr. & Mrs. Rogers, they’ll automatically know that we’re a married couple.
  • Our kids will be named Rogers, and people will automatically know that they’re our children because we’ve designated ourselves as a family unit.
  • I’ll show my undying devotion to Scott by taking his last name. He’ll show his undying devotion to me by…I dunno, buying me shiny things?

    Scott's shiny thing that he bought me. I love it.

    Scott’s shiny thing that he bought me. I love it.

Cons to Changing My Name to My Fiancé’s:

  • Um, HELLO! Snow is about the coolest last name you could ever have! Scott’s and my boss actually suggested that Scott take my last name–and this was before we were even engaged. Yes, I could go from Kathryn Artemesia Snow to Kathryn Snow Rogers, but I would miss the Artemesia too. No matter what, I’d have to give up a name. And it kind of feels like I’m giving up a part of myself when I do that.
  • Changing your name is a logistical nightmare. Social Security office, DMV, the bank, the post office…it’s an endless series of hoops to jump through. And if you get divorced, as my roommate has pointed out, you have to do it all over again.

Now for the other side…

Pros to Not Changing My Name:

  • Way less bureaucracy!
  • I like my name the way it is, and I’d get to keep it legally/professionally, but people could still call me Mrs. Rogers, Sister Rogers, the Rogers Family, etc. colloquially.

Cons to Not Changing My Name:

  • Which names would our kids take? We’d pretty much be forced to pick at that point.
  • As little as I care about people thinking we’re “weird,” it does get unnecessarily confusing if you try to break too far from tradition. The reason a family has the same last name is because legally and existentially, you’ve designated yourself as a family unit. I get that, and I don’t see a way around it unfortunately.

Scott is wonderful, of course, and when I ask him if he wants me to change my name he says, “Do whatever makes you happy.” But no matter what I do, I feel like I’m losing out on something.

So, I’m legitimately asking: Should I change my name? What has your experience been with these pros and cons?