The morning routine started the way it usually does in our house, I jump out of bed in a panic because I have hit the snooze button one too many times and am running around like a crazy person trying to put together a presentable outfit for the day ahead. My wife is literally following me around the house telling me that I am not going to make the train, there is no way and I better hurry. Finally, after attempting to ignore her for several minutes, all I can do is reply with, “Don’t fucking rush me!” which sounds more like the voice of Satan than my own.
I barely make it to the train station in time. Luckily I have mastered the “lipstick lesbian” role and can run at least five blocks in heels without tripping. As I am sitting on the train completely out of breath and trying to pretend I don’t see people laughing at my attempt to look athletic while running in heels, I realize my bra feels unusually tight this morning. Weird. I casually pretend to bend down to pick something up so I can look down my own shirt, only to realize I am wearing my wife’s bra. Under normal circumstances one would say well at least you had one on at all? But considering my chest is at least two sizes bigger than my wife’s, this was going to be a long day.
Of course I immediately needed to text my friend telling her what happened and how ridiculous I felt. Her response: “I wear my husband’s shirts all the time.” Excuse me? How is wearing your husband’s shirt and me wearing my wife’s bra that is two sizes too small even remotely the same thing? After pondering the idea that she actually thought the two were comparable, I proceeded to get lost in my own thoughts of what life was like in a “straight marriage” vs. “gay marriage” and how unusually different yet exactly the same they really are. I was once married to a man many years ago, and although there are similarities that parallel one another, there are some huge differences.
Sure, I would wear my former husband’s clothing from time to time—albeit a sweatshirt or a T-shirt—but other than those specific items, sharing things with a man is impossible, and frankly, in my opinion, disgusting. Under no circumstances did I ever use my former husband’s toothbrush. Now my wife on the other hand, I don’t even know which toothbrush is mine, I just use the one closest to the sink. I am fairly certain she is unaware of this fact so this will be a fun conversation later.
My ex-husband was not able to discuss things in a serious matter, ever. He would hear the words “I feel” and immediately begin to work out a comedy routine in his head to ensure that he did not have to actually deal with what I was saying. Or he just shut down completely. I think it’s harder for men to understand the complexities of a woman’s mindset which made being married to a man difficult when it came to having a serious conversation. I am sure there are some men who are better at this exercise than others, but thankfully I have only been married and divorced to one man so I have no other comparison. On the flip side of this, being married to a woman can pose a challenge at times because we feel things so deeply, our conversations can be intense and last for hours at a time. My wife and I have analyzed things to the point of forgetting what we were even talking about in the first place!
One of the biggest differences I have truly noticed is the quality time spent with one another in my marriage to my wife versus marriage to my ex-husband. There are often set gender “rules,” if you will, when it comes to a straight relationship. For example: He fixes the dishwasher while you fold the clothes. Or you cook dinner while he builds a deck in your back yard. In a straight marriage you have “guys’ night” and “girls’ night.” You spend the evening away from your spouse with your girl friends by going to dinner or drinks, while he is out with his guy friends at the local watering hole talking about his glory days in high school.
In my marriage with my wife, we do almost everything together. There is no night out with the girls; we all go out together. I’m not saying people don’t need time apart from one another from time to time, but the option of my wife being with me is always there. And I like it that way. On top of that, we don’t have gender set “rules” or chores. We simply take turns doing what needs to be done around the house, without questioning whether one of us is more capable than the other to do a task that might otherwise be an “obvious” role in a straight marriage.
I drafted a series of questions and enlisted my friends, two married lesbian couples and two married straight couples, to help me in my quest to prove once and for all that no matter the gender, the core of marriage was the exact same and it should be a right amongst all of us, period. Plus I wanted to get juicy gossip into their lives and this was my brilliant way of being nosy without actually being nosy. They totally fell for it.
I started off with generic questions at first, such as how long you have been together vs. how long you have been married. I moved into what their definition of marriage is and got answers such as:
“A lifelong commitment between two people filled with honesty, loyalty, love, cherish and respect for each other.”
“Realistically it’s just a title. The relationship is what counts.”
“Marriage to me is a union of two people that have an unconditional love for each other.”
“An unconditional love, friendship, respect and understanding of one another’s wants, needs and dreams.”
Each answer provided almost the exact same response, so I turned up the heat. My next question was, “What are some of the silliest things you have argued about?” As I waited for their responses, I quickly thought back on the argument my wife and I had last night about what time to take the garbage out the next morning. I was hoping the arguments were just as silly as ours, not only to prove that marriage is the same no matter the gender, but also to solidify that my wife and I are not crazy. I couldn’t have asked for better responses:
“We honestly don’t argue a lot but in the event that we do, it’s probably over a house project and someone getting ‘short’ with the other. ‘I said move it more to the right!’ ‘No actually you said more to the left.’ ‘Whatever.’ ‘What do you mean whatever?’ ‘Forget it.’ ‘Oh now you’re mad?’ ‘I’m not mad!’ ‘Yes you are, listen to the tone of your voice!’”
“Most recently we argued about a penalty in football.”
“She’s the brains and I’m the brawn when it comes to projects or doing things. She will try and explain how something should be put together but I can’t for-see things and she gets annoyed with that. We will start arguing the fact that I can’t picture what she is saying.”
“I would probably say the silliest arguments are about his terrible sports talk radio that he tries to make me listen to.”
While we were on the topic of the silliest arguments, I decided to push the envelope a little bit and ask about the annoying habits your spouse does or things you do that annoy your spouse. I will give you an example of my own: My wife leaves the scale out in the middle of the bathroom when she is done using it, causing me to literally trip on it in the middle of the night if I have to get up to use the bathroom. It drives me nuts and thankfully I have not been seriously injured on that stupid thing.
“I roll the window down and will turn the heat off in the car all at once when I get hot. I take long showers. I’ll set the dishes next to the dishwasher instead of in it.”
“Probably one of the things that drives me the most crazy is when I say something or tell him something and he doesn’t respond so I have to ask if he heard me. It makes me feel like a nag when all he had to do was acknowledge me in the first place!”
“I have a habit of shoving my clothes in my drawers and on my shelves in and ‘unorganized fashion.’ I also never take initiative to do the laundry….I hate the folding part. I also tend to sing everything in opera which she claims is not annoying but I know it is.”
“I multi-task and she hates it. We can be in the middle of a project and I have to go downstairs to get a tool or something and I realize the clothes in the dryer need folding…then I see a screw loose on the dryer so I go out to the garage to get a screwdriver when I realize I haven’t fed my birds lately so I grab the bird feed and head out to the front yard. While I am out there I see some weeds that need to be pulled. She will call for me and I’m on my knees in the front yard weeding.”
While I could continue to ask them questions about their personal lives for days, I decided to end the conversation with asking what they believe is the success to their marriage thus far.
“Talking, laughing, and spending quality time together.”
“The secret to our marriage being successful is being a best friend to one another. This means respecting each other; how we talk to one another, how we handle our differences, making time to reconnect, believing in one another and making sure we bring out the best in each other.”
“Never go to bed angry, always get a kiss at night and in the morning. Trust and kindness.”
“A successful marriage to me is friendship. My wife is my best friend. Love and understanding plays a big part as well.”
The core of all marriage is the same: You love this person and want to spend your life with them. You want to make them happy, and to support them in anything they do. You also have arguments over dumb things, say something you maybe shouldn’t have said and do something annoying that drives the other person crazy. These are universal in any relationship whether you are gay or straight. We need society to stop categorizing marriage by sexual orientation and start to view it as a commitment and an understanding between two people who have the choice whether they want to love each other forever or not.
We are on the cusp of having marriage equality nationwide, but that still doesn’t take away from the fact that there are thousands of people in this country who view “gay” marriage as not a “real” marriage. My hope is that once they see past the gender, they will see the same loving commitment they have with their spouse, and that in the end all that matters is love.