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It's a family affair

When I first got married, friends would ask if I felt any different.  It was a good question.  Peter and I had been living together for a year before our wedding day and were well aware of each other’s quirks, ticks and habits.  For example:

Cathleen brushes her teeth with warm water.

Peter eats cereal without milk.

After our honeymoon, we returned to our same apartment, our same jobs and our same lives.  The only visible difference was the presence of Crate & Barrel kitchenware in our cupboards.  But I did feel different.  Like a family.  When I quizzed newly married friends if they felt any different — post-nuptials — they said the same thing.

“We are a family now.”

After dating Peter for six months I was ready to tie the knot.  I didn’t tell him, of course.  No need in him thinking I was some crazy — If I don’t get married now I’m going to eat your face — kind of lady.  Bridal magazines weren’t my thing and I never daydreamed about centerpieces.  But I did obsess about a durable future.  After our six month mark, an inner monologue began to develop in my mind when Peter and I snuggled together at night.

Let’s get this show on the road, buddy.  If we’re going to grow old together then we need to make shit happen NOW!  Use it or lose it!

I spent my late teens and twenties sloshing about in a mucky river of strained relationships and dead-end jobs.  When I met Peter, I began to think more long-term.  I finished college, made some forward thinking career choices and got a gym membership.  Don’t worry, I’m not suggesting that Peter “saved” me.  What I am suggesting, is that I wanted a family of my own and didn’t realize it until I met Peter.

Marriage cynics toss around phrases like, “You don’t need a man to be happy,” and “She’s just desperate for a ring,” to trivialize the “hunt” for a husband.

It’s true, you don’t need a man to be happy and you certainly don’t need a piece of metal around your finger to feel deep and lasting joy.  But, I would argue, you do need a family.  And for me, marriage is my gateway drug to a stable, family-oriented life.  It’s not as terribly boring as it sounds.  Or maybe it is.  Regardless, it suits me and my personality.

I don’t subscribe to the belief that family = man + woman + baby.  I have a broad definition of family.  I think the community and friends we make are as much apart of family life as actual blood relations.  When I met Peter, my family life started to come into view.  My friendships, community and kin started to click together in a way that they hadn’t before.  The slippery ground I had been living on for the past few years started to dry out and once again feel like concrete.  We all know that if a child doesn’t have a strong and safe home life then that kid is at risk of growing into a troubled adult.  I don’t think we outgrow our need for a strong and safe home life when we mature into independent, tax-paying, citizens.  We all need a little love.

Bridal magazines and the wedding industry in general make us think that all women want is a pitch-perfect day filled with virginal glamor and matching shades of sky blue. F**K that!  I just wanted my own little plot of land to plant my flag and grow my future.

-Cathleen Carr



7 Responsesto “It's a family affair”

  1. Anne says:

    Bridal mags and the wedding industry do a great job of making it feel like it’s your “do-it-right, or-else” pre-wifely duty to plan the perfect wedding. I started to go that route until I saw the price tag and virtual prison term required to pore over the most mundane details. We then charted a quick course to one-call-does-it-all Vegas nuptials. We may not have had the picture perfect wedding, but 8 married years and 2 kids later, we are a happy, blessed and picture perfect family.

  2. Maria says:

    Hurumph. When everything else in life is all over the place, I think of our marriage as a one consistent thing in my life. Even though it’s always changing, it’s always there. Good read!

  3. Miriam says:

    I have to agree with you on this one. Even though I may have some wedding day fantasies (that are slight compared to most women I know), I mostly look forward to the marriage itself. I look forward to having a family, even it it’s just of David (the bf) and I. I want to be able to securely plan a future with him, to move on in life with him, to having a teammate and a partner. Isn’t that what marriage is?

  4. Jack Huber says:

    Even though as a single guy I may not exactly be the target audience here (or maybe I actually am but didn’t realize it). I loved this article!!

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