Category Archives: Marriage

On Cold Feet

I probably should have ignored The Hairpin’s link to an article on women who marry the men they don’t love as soon as I saw it was from Marie Claire, but I do stupid things all the time.

The article tells us some women marry men they don’t love for various women-are-dumb reasons (they’re excited to have a wedding! they are about to turn 30!) even they know, in their gut, they shouldn’t marry him.  And then a few years later they get divorced. Thesis: cold feet? Abort engagement!

I think that is crap. Maybe I’m kidding myself because I don’t want to end my engagement or end up divorced, but I am no stranger to cold feet and I still think Collin and I should get married.  And again, maybe I’m kidding myself, but I’m guessing I’m not alone in that.  I think we’re just afraid to talk about it because of divorce statistics and the “you’ll see”s and the responding chorus of “but we’re different! I am one hundred thousand percent sure we’ll be this blissfully happy forever!”

Hey, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe everyone but me is one hundred thousand percent sure. And maybe my marriage is doomed. But let me be perfectly clear: I get cold feet.

Sure, I don’t have the “in my gut I know this is wrong” feeling described in that piece. But I don’t have the “in my gut I know this is right!” feeling either. I don’t think that has anything to do with Collin. It has everything to do with me: my depression and my pessimism and my anxiety.  If I had to be absolutely sure, I’d never get married.

The best I can do is “really pretty sure” and “I really want this.” That gives me a leg up on the women in that Marie Claire article who don’t really want to marry their partners. But it doesn’t make my marriage failsafe.  And I’m tired of hearing the message that doubts = doomed, because, well, that just makes me doubt more.

So maybe you’re one of the “sure you’re sure” people and you think I’m fooling myself. Maybe you’re a marriage cynic and think anyone getting married is fooling themselves. Maybe you’re Future Robin the Jilted or Divorced Woman and you’re reading this through tears of regret. But the truth is the truth: I am not sure my marriage is going to work, but that’s not going to stop me from trying. So if there is anyone else like me, you’re not alone, and at least as far as I’m concerned, you’re not a fool.


A Huge Perk

I just filed my state taxes FROM AN AIRPORT GATE at the last-ish minute1 because I am a ridiculous excuse for a grown-up American citizen.

As I flipped through the paperwork on my lap and punched my social security number in my cell phone for the fifth time, Collin said, “At least this is the last year you have to do this alone.”

Amen. Dudes, I think “making Collin do our taxes” is one of the things that I most look forward to about marriage. I know that is sexist! I know it is exploiting my straight privilege! And I’m sorry for that! But dude, Collin is organized, responsible, and geeks out about finances. I found one of my 1099’s in a pile of bridal magazines. I wish that were a joke. We’ll have the privilege of joint filing and I will be exploiting the privilege of Collin doing the joint filing. I’ll try to make up for that failure as a human being/feminist with some other mitzvah.

I could probably hire an accountant every year for the next few centuries for the cost of our wedding, but I’m not saying that I’m marrying Collin so he’ll do my taxes. I’m just acknowledging how much I like that perk.

1Taxes are actually due April 18th this year, for reasons I am too lazy to Google.

Real Wedding: Addi and Joe Elope on the Duquesne Incline

A few weeks ago, I would have told you that HitchDied would never “feature” a wedding (other than my own). But I also would have told you that Addi and Joe might never get married, even though they have, as Drobin put it last Halloween, “the Platonic Ideal of a happy long-term relationship.” So when Addi and Joe surprised the world by going all spousal on us, I waited the etiquette-sanctioned 15 minutes before begging her to guest blog about it. I’m delighted to share their story, not only because I love Addi and Joe so much, but because it illustrates that even an elopement inspired by health insurance needs and the intricacies of the Internal Revenue Code can still be deeply romantic, personal, and ADORABLE. So I present with delight Addi’s story,
Why I Eloped on the Duquesne Incline.

[Photo by Lauren Zurchin]

When Joe and I told my clergy parents1 we were moving in together, my mother tearfully—but with hope and enthusiasm in her voice—suggested we first let them do a quickie wedding. This was 2006, when Joe and I had been together for about a year.

We declined the offer.

Cut to five years later. We’re still living together, still not married. We feel married, though. We make financial decisions together. We get each other through the toughest days. We compromise even when we really don’t feel like it. I nag him to take out the trash, and he tells me to stop biting my nails. The only thing missing is an official nod from the government.

“Then why not just get married?” you ask, along with the rest of the free world. Well, since you asked…

We’ve always said “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” We’re not into religion, so we have no religious reasons to get hitched. We’ve also never encountered any legal or financial reasons to take the plunge, either, so it’s just been a casual someday to us.

Until now.

We recently tried to put Joe on my health insurance as a domestic partner. In applying, we learned it would cost us over $500 per month due to what’s called an imputed income tax. As my spouse, on the other hand, he’d pay a premium of under $50 per month. [Ed. Note: This is the result of federal law discriminating against gay Americans through DOMA, and even after the Obama administration’s recent repudiation of that law, domestic partners still suffer severe tax consequences that are not levied on married couples.]

WHOOMP, there it is—a reason why marriage would be an immediate benefit. The conversation shifted.

Do we want to get married? If so, when? This week!? That’s so soon! Where would we do it? The courthouse is so stale! I don’t want to be married by a complete stranger on a Tuesday afternoon! Are we doing this for the right reasons? Of course! We love each other! So do we need a pre-nup? Should we tell our parents ahead of time? Do we tell anyone ahead of time? What should we WEAR?2

Answers started to trickle down. Yes, we want to get married, and within the next month for health insurance reasons. We do not want a pre-nup.3 We’ll do what’s called a Quaker Oath, or self-uniting ceremony. We’ll tell our parents and close friends ahead of time. We’ll dress like we’re attending a wedding. Only one question still remained: where on earth are we going to do it?

We started talking about places that are meaningful to us as a couple, but there’s really nowhere in particular that is sacred to the two of us in Pittsburgh. The city itself is our darling. So Joe half-jokingly says, “What about the Duquesne Incline?”

The Duquesne Incline opened in Pittsburgh on May 20, 1877. It is one of only a handful of inclines still remaining in America. It was restored in 1963 and has become not only an attraction to visitors but also a practical means of public transportation. Many also consider it an important symbol of Pittsburgh’s history and beauty.4

I laugh at Joe’s suggestion, but then I stop to think. The idea of incorporating a Pittsburgh icon into my union with the man I love is perfectly charming. It would feel appropriate because we love this town almost as much as we love each other. We may not have had any special moments on the incline as a couple, but we can create a new one.

It turns out there’s more than one reason to get married on the incline. It’s a historic Pittsburgh location, for one. The view is spectacular. Imagine the photos! Plus it costs only $125 to rent the whole place and shut down the observation deck for a private party. And it’s even cheaper if you don’t close the deck — $4.50 per person, to be exact.5

[Photo by Lauren Zurchin]

On Sunday, February 27th, Joe and I self-united in the presence of two witnesses and two friends, one doubling as photographer. Yep, we said our vows and signed the contract right there in the moving car. And I swooned. A lot.

I suppose I could go off on a whole tangent of how, like the incline, our relationship will be a little bumpy and will have ups and downs, it will require regular maintenance, and it will take a lot of effort and love to keep it working properly—but I’ll spare you the nauseating analogy.

We do plan to have a traditional ceremony/reception with all our family and friends present, the big white dress, a bad DJ and a cake… but that’s still for someday.

1Yep, they’re both ministers.
2I think we all know it shouldn’t be a white dress, AM I RIGHT?
3 A cheap one is $500 according to a lawyer friend. [Ed: I am that lawyer friend! Drop!] Thanks, but we’ll take our chances.
4The Duquesne Incline
5That’s the cost of one round trip.

Let’s Talk About Sex

[ I had to use that title. Sorry. Couldn’t be helped]

The wedding/marriage blog community offers such delightful, thoughtful, funny, intelligent conversation on almost every aspect of relationships: the fun stuff, the hard stuff, the scary stuff, the mundane stuff.  But we hardly ever talk about sex. There’s been a couple posts on A Practical Wedding, but not too much on the subject in the individuals’ blogs I read, which I feel are the core of my online wedding community.

I mean, I get it.  Sex is private. You’ve got your own boundaries to consider, your partner’s boundaries, and your readership’s boundaries.

When I put out a feeler about this post on Twitter, the overwhelming response was, “My mom reads my blog!” And THAT is exactly why you have an orphan* blog friend to host an Anonymous Comment-Enabled Sex Talk Blog Party.

[*I do feel the slightest tinge of weirdness writing about sex knowing my mother-in-law Viki reads this blog, but a) in-laws are different b) Viki’s cool c) she doesn’t have to read this if she feels uncomfortable with it.  Hi, Viki!]

So let’s get this party started.  Here are some sex talk items that I’ve previously shied away from discussing on this blog:

• I prefer monogamy.  I want my relationship with Collin to be monogamous for the rest of our lives.  Collin wants that too.  I want to include something about “faithfulness” or whatever no-sex-with-other-people euphemism is appropriate for a family event in my wedding vows.  I feel kind of embarrassed about that, like it is old-fashioned and square. But I know that monogamy will not always be easy and I want the powerful foundation of my wedding vows to help me stick to that value.

• My libido is way higher than Collin’s.  Working this out was the first big hurdle in our developing relationship and it made us much closer.  [This isn’t to say that we “fixed” the problem, I still want sex more often than Collin does, but we got to a place where neither of us feel guilty or embarrassed or hurt by the disparity.] It set the tone for all future conflict resolution in our relationship, and I honestly think set us on the path to marriage.

• If you didn’t hear the story of how we met on the Power Hour Podcast, you may not know that when I met Collin I fully intended him to be a one night stand.  But I had entirely too much to drink that night and puked before we could actually, um, stand.  This story embarrasses me horribly.  I am sparing you most of the humiliating details, but here is one of the best: while waiting for a cab after leaving the bar, I started chatting with some strangers, and I introduced Collin with “This is Collin, he’s going to put his semen in me.” Oh, I am so embarrassed, I have deleted and re-typed that sentence fifteen times.

I am SINCERELY WORRIED about how much a role the humiliating-to-Robin tale of the night we met is going to play in our Wedding Festivities, but it feels too controlling and mean and killjoy-ish to ban all mention of it from the toasts, etc.  So I’ve been trying to own the story, by doing things like sharing it on a podcast and mentioning it here.  It’s not entirely working.  I also have no idea what version(s) of the story I will be telling any potential children, at which ages in their lives.

So please feel free to comment or reflect on any of those items (monogamy, libido differences, initial sexual encounters, sharing sexual stories with family and friends) or anything else under the umbrella of sex talk you’d like to share.  Other ideas: Birth control! Dry spells! Endearing quirks! Is sex with your partner the best sex you’ve ever had? Do you plan to/did you bone on your wedding night? Do you know each other’s “numbers”?

Anonymous commenting will be on for the weekend.  You still need to put something in the name box for your comment to submit (make something up, or go with the time-tested “anonymous”).  I have turned on comment moderation for now, depending on how things go, I may turn it off when I need to be away from my computer to keep the conversation going.

Commenters must follow these rules:

  1. Be nice.
  2. No judgment. [This is a more specific way of saying “be nice.”]
  3. You do not need to be engaged, married, in a committed relationship, or even sexually active to join the party.
  4. You do not have to comment anonymously if you don’t want to.
  5. You are NOT allowed to impair anyone else’s anonymity.
  6. Any comments that violate these rules or any of the basic principles of human decency will either not be approved or will be deleted.
  7. Everybody have fun tonight.

Make it Anywhere

Collin and I had a lovely weekend in New Jersey and New York, where Collin ran the ING Marathon and had his personal best time of 3:20.  I got to see lots of friends, and had a lot of fun, and it was wonderful.

But I’m so, so, so glad to be home.

Look, I know this will forever bar me from the Cool Kids Club, but I just don’t like New York City.  I find it deeply exhausting and more than a little depressing.  It’s exacerbated by the ten-year-old in me feeling left out because by all other accounts New York is “the greatest city in the world,” but when I’m there I just want to go home where I can walk at my own pace and assume strangers are nice and rarely if ever wonder if people sprawled on the sidewalk are dead or alive.  What do the Cool Kids see that I don’t? And am I really such a whiny brat to think that if you’re going to have a massive public transportation network you should make maps of it readily available?

So I said to Collin a few times  this weekend (maybe more than a few times), “Don’t make me move to New York.  Remember we can always live in New Jersey if you have to take a job in New York.  Isn’t this PATH train great? Let’s never, ever move to New York, OK?”  He told me not to worry about moving to New York, as it’s not a big area for the kind of research he wants to do.

But you know where is?  South Africa.  And you know that whole “if I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere” bit? Well, I do not think that people who can make it in New York can necessarily make it in South Africa.  [I suspect they’d also have trouble with rural Montana, or, I don’t know, the Kamchatka Peninsula.]  Really, the line should be “if I can make it there, I’ll make it in other First World cities.”

But that is neither here nor there, because I cannot make it in New York.  Dudes, I can barely make it in Pittsburgh, and it is the most livable city in America.

I’ve told Collin I’ll go where he needs to go when he finishes his PhD program, because his career is looking to be awesome.  He’s told me that he doesn’t want to go to South Africa out of deference to me.  But how many “don’t make us move there” cards can I really play?  Maybe I just need to toughen up.  But I hope I can do it in some kind of trainer hell-metro.  Cleveland, maybe?

Forsaking All Others

While watching two television characters share a first kiss yesterday, the thought occurred to me that I won’t get any more first kisses (I mean, barring adultery, divorce, or widowhood. Let’s bar those things, shall we?) And I was a little sad, because that magnetic pull and surge of excitement that comes with a first kiss, I think we can all agree, is pretty freakin’ awesome.

And then I started to think about all the other things I’m closing the door to by getting married. No more goofy phone calls with my sister and my girlfriends that start with, “So I met this guy.” No more dirty dancing with total strangers at clubs. [Wait, I never go to clubs. What I mean is no more dirty dancing with total strangers at icky bars that look like grandpa’s basement where they serve $1.50 PBRs and call it “80’s Night” when half the music is from 1990-1992. Which is something I did only slightly more often than never.]

It reminded me of Beautiful Girls, which is a terrible movie that I nevertheless love. How terrible? The main character falls in love with his thirteen-year-old neighbor, and I think we’re supposed to find it sweet. He has a perfectly fine girlfriend who is above the age of consent, but he doesn’t want to commit to her because then he won’t get that feeling of first falling in love anymore. “Why not have two, three more of those beginnings before I settle into the big fade?”

[I’m not saying this dude is right. This is a guy who, while heading upstairs to bed his adult girlfriend, stops to lean out the window and tell his thirteen-year-old neighbor that she’s prettier than the girlfriend he’s about to bone. He’s a total jagoff.]

On the flip side, I’m sure a lot of people like the “settling down” part of marriage because it spares them all the bullshit of dating. Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot about dating I will never miss. And I obviously think being with Collin is better than first kisses. Better than 50,000 first kisses, which is probably more than I could hope for.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t mourn a little bit for the potential beginnings I’m closing the door to. And I’m glad I do, because it makes choosing to get married more meaningful.

Our Biggest Fight

Last weekend, my cousin Rocky, who got engaged the night before Collin and I did (totally stealing our thunder), told me about his experience at the marriage-planning retreat mandated by their church.  He summarized it thusly: “You know the five biggest fights you and Collin have, that you go back to time and again?  Imagine filling out worksheets about them and then having each of the fights, back-to-back, all weekend long.”

So of course I DID imagine that.  But if I think about it honestly,1 I doubt Collin and I would make it through all of our top five fights. We’d never reach how I load the dishwasher, or how he really needs to keep his dirty running clothes separate from the rest of the laundry, or what the fastest way to get from our neighborhood to Shadyside is.2

Because we’d never get past our ongoing fight about time travel.

I cut my teeth on time travel narratives through Quantum Leap and Terminator 2: Judgment DayQuantum Leap taught me that time is like a belt.  It’s a straight line, but you can bend it to get from one point to another.  T2 taught me that if you go back in time and change something, you can make a new future.

Then at some point I saw the original Terminator, and found out that John Connor sent his own father back from the future to conceive him.  Which hurt my brain.  And then in T2 they ostensibly fix the future, but John Connor still exists.  So I figured that they didn’t really fix the future.  [I guess the writers of the so-bad-it’s-good Terminator 3 and the so-bad-it’s-unwatchable Terminator Salvation figured the same thing.]

My dad, however, explained to me that despite the ability to change the future through time travel, you can’t change the past from the present.  So, in 1995, when the events of T2 take place, the past that involves John Connor being conceived by Sarah Connor and time-traveling Kyle Reese have already happened.  So even though the future where John Connor and Kyle Reese fight a war together and Kyle Reese gets sent back in time will never happen, Kyle Reese has already been to 1984 and John Connor has been conceived and born.  Now he gets to live a normal life of whatever kind of mediocre crap a would-be-savior of humanity does when he averts the need to save humanity by melting his robot best friend.  [Just pretend the next two movies never happened.  You’ll be happier.  (I can’t speak for the Sarah Connor Chronicles TV series, because I never watched it.)]

To which Collin replies, “Back off, man, I’m a scientist.” (Even though he’s a BIOLOGIST) He learned his time travel theory from science instead of movies. Ick!3 So Collin thinks that all time is happening simultaneously, like a huge collage of photographs (think about the visual that pops up when you fast forward or rewind on Netflix Watch Instantly).  Jumping from one point in time photograph to another doesn’t mean you can change anything.  Everything that has happened and will happen already exists, including any extra-chronological jaunts an individual may make.  So there is no changing anything.  Rewinding to the beginning of the movie doesn’t change the end.

This theory is a nice little workaround for time travel paradoxes, but is also BORING AS JAIL.  Plus, it makes free will an illusion, which is an abyss with which I refuse to get into a staring contest.

This is a really terrible fight for a couple to have over and over again.  It may well doom our relationship.  First, because there is no right answer.  We’re not theoretical physicists, and even theoretical physicists don’t actually know how time travel works.  Second, because it brings in cherished childhood memories, like T2, and Back to the Future. (Yes, my cherished childhood memories are movies.  Don’t you judge me.)  Third, neither of us have any idea what we are talking about.  Like I said, we are in no way experts on theoretical physics.  This means we not only can’t agree with each other, we often have trouble agreeing with ourselves.

Trust me when I say that any fight that involves discussion of the plot of the movie Primer needs to be avoided.  You might be able to make it out without breaking up.  You won’t be able to make it out without a headache.

1Or not even remotely honestly. This is totally not one of those, “Our relationship is superfly and you should probably be worried about how yours can’t possibly match up. Collin is my BEST FRIEND and my SOUL MATE and DIVORCE RATE SCHMIVORCE RATE we are MADE FOR EACH OTHER!” posts. Because those posts make me gag.
2Incidentally, Collin clocked it on his Garmin watch this morning and I was EM-EFFIN R-I-G-H-T. (Pittsburghers: it’s the “Batman Route” that shoots you out on Neville).
3This is another exaggeration for the sake of comedy. Collin doesn’t want you to think he’s arrogant. He isn’t, also. I mostly wrote that this way for the sake of Ghostbusters references.

Guest Post 2: Marriage Never Sleeps

I guest posted at Souris Mariage as part of a series on secrets to a happy marriage.  Most of the posts are wise, heartfelt explorations of the subtle negotiations of the heart required to make a committed relationship work.  Mine is… not.

But I hope you enjoy reading about The Five Second Rule anyway.  And thanks for having me, Mouse!

Counting Up to Seven Three Oh

Big weekend in HitchDiedLand!  Collin’s birthday is tomorrow.  We’re going to a wedding on Saturday. I’m leaving twelve hours after the wedding for a brief spot of fun with some friends in Florida.  I’ll hopefully get home just in time to kiss Collin on our anniversary.

I’m extra excited about the wedding, because a) I love weddings and b) I’ll be meeting some of Collin’s good friends from college for the first time (including the groom).  It’s silly, but I’m still nervous about making a good impression, even though his buddies are probably a touch too late to the game to  comment on whether or not I’m a keeper.

Why haven’t these people met me yet? Well, it’s confession time: Monday is Collin and my SECOND anniversary.  Yeah, that’s right, we decided to get married after just one little year of dating.   I know what you’re thinking Isn’t that the sort of thing that only foolish celebrities do? Well, Us: we’re just like stars!  I just hope we don’t have our marriage end the way celebrities’ marriages tend to.  I mean, if Collin starts dating someone twenty years younger than him immediately after our ten-month marriage ends, that rebound chick will be in second grade.  So we really need to depart from that model.

Someday I’ll write a more serious post about why we’re not waiting to get married, but today I have to find my camera battery charger and figure out what carry on bag I’m going to use and decide if I can really live with myself if I pack five dresses for a four-day trip.

Have a great weekend, everybody!

On the Plus Side, I Love a Good Apron

Sarah wrote a great post about chores and other domestic duties, and I started writing an epic comment before I realized I should just write my own damn blog post.

I’ve walked the housewife beat before.  Nope, I was never married, but I did stay at home for a year and primarily concern myself with cooking, cleaning, and childcare.

For new readers of this blog, my parents both died during my senior year of college, so after graduating I took a year off to help my older sister take care of our younger brother, who was sixteen at the time.  Instead of paying my sister rent I paid for all the groceries, and did most of the cooking and cleaning around the house.  And I helped make sure my brother was going to school and not getting into too much trouble after school.  The thing that was great about that year was being with my family when we needed each other the most.  The thing that sucked about that year was being a housewife.

Which is a damn shame. My dad was a house”wife”1 for most of my childhood, and he was great at it.  He made it look easy.  I wish I could be like him. I got so much out of having a full-time stay-at-home parent, and I would love my kids to have that luxury too.  But even setting aside the near-impossibility of supporting a family on one income these days, it just doesn’t seem like it is in the cards.  Because I suck at domesticity.2 I’m not good at cleaning.  I get lazy about cooking.  I find grocery shopping tortuously tedious.  [Do you have any idea how much a teenager eats?  IT IS SO MUCH.  I can’t imagine how much food you have to buy, and how often you have to buy it, to feed several teenagers at once.  I don’t want to imagine it!]

My dad went to the grocery store every single day.  Every day.  He kept a notepad handy at all times and he’d add items to the daily shopping list, placing them on the page so that the complete list would be in the order of his route through the store.  And I think he liked it.

So right now I’m unemployed again, and I find myself feeling inadequate because I’m not always dusting, because I don’t have food ready on the table when Collin gets home from lab, because our living room is so messy that at a time I thought it was unusually tidy my sister-in-law walked in and said, “I guess you guys haven’t had a lot of time for cleaning recently, huh?”   I was not particularly good at being a housewife when I had more or less embraced the role, and I’m completely TERRIBLE at it when it is just all there is left to do in the day after hitting my limit job hunting.

But thank GOD and FEMINISM and COLLIN that I really only worry about my shortcomings as a housewife during this period of unemployment.  I do not expect that once I have a job/once I am married (hopefully that will come second!), I will still feel like I am a failure of a human being because there are cat hair tumbleweeds on the stairs.  In the meantime, god bless Collin for his patience, and whoever invented that stairs attachment for vacuums for her innovation.

1I am all for gender-neutral terms, and you’d think I’d be extra jazzed about it in this case because I grew up being asked “what does your father do for a living?” and “will your mom be picking you up from school?” and getting pissy about it, but just can’t bring myself to use the word “homemaker” because it sounds like construction. I often describe my dad’s role as “stay-at-home parent,” but I want to compare myself to him in the present state of my life where there is no parenting involved.
2Collin has said he is not opposed to the idea of taking time off to raise potential children, which is one of the reasons I consider him prime husband material. But right now his career is looking really good, and my career is making that noise a car makes when the engine won’t turn over, so from our current vantage point it seems if one of us will be a stay-at-home parent, it will be me.