When Progressive Podcast Australia had their awesome episode on same-sex marriage and the concept of marriage in general, I wanted to say so much more than I did at the time, but I just didn’t have the time. I have been mulling over many thoughts in relation to it in the mean time. I have to admit I was somewhat surprised to know Katie and Nick were getting married but when they explained it wasn’t going to be a legal ceremony it all made a bit more sense to me.
I have been a proponent of same-sex marriage, or rather preferably, marriage equality, from the time I first thought about it. It makes no sense to me to treat some people differently to others and it just never did. I so often hear people say that they used to be homophobic or against marriage equality, but then they got to know somebody who was gay and then everything changed. I don’t really get this personally. It’s the same logic that leads people to say that child rape upsets them now that they have their own children in my mind. I never got that either yet many parents say this too me. Being a parent makes you more caring about bad things that happen to kids. Ummmm, no it doesn’t. Not for me. I’ve always been upset by children or anybody really being abused and hurt and I just don’t get that it takes a personal connection to feel that. Then again I think this is also what helps to make the vegan connection. I don’t have to experience being a cow to understand that the things people do to them in the name of food is just not acceptable.
Anyway, back to the marriage equality thing. I’m not sure exactly how old I was when I realised that gay people existed. I certainly didn’t know any that I was aware of. I do remember though that when I did realised, I was confused by people who thought there was anything wrong with it. When I was a kid I used to cut quotes and things out of the newspaper and blu-tak them to my bedroom door. One was a letter to the editor where a woman had said that she didn’t understand why people were so upset about Martina Navratilova being a role model to young girls. This woman mentioned that there was actual violence and such going on and that all Martina had done was admit to a loving relationship with another human being. How could that be wrong? I wholeheartedly agreed.
The whole question of marriage brings up another can of worms as clearly not all relationships lead to marriage and not everybody wants to get married. But in my mind it’s as simple as if one person has the right then so should all consenting adults. I just can’t fathom any reason to think otherwise. I’ve been married and have no intention of going there again but who am I to judge another person if it is something that is important to them for whatever reason.
Personally, for a lot of reasons, getting married was easily the dumbest thing I ever did in my life. Closely followed by bringing a child into a relationship that never should have existed in the first place. I wasn’t one of those girls who ‘always dreamed of my wedding day’. I kind of figured I’d get married and have kids some day because, isn’t that what people do? Then I got myself to a time in my life where friends betrayed me and I questioned everything I’d ever known or believed about myself. I had always been told that I would never be happy if I didn’t try harder to ‘fit in’. So when I was hurt by a person who I thought was my best friend, I figured the people who told me that probably were right.
So I changed. I hid the real me, even from myself. I met a guy who ticked all the right boxes on the surface and went and got married. There were times when I thought I was happy for a bit, and many more times when I was sure that if I just worked harder and tried more that I could make things the way they ought to be. If I wasn’t happy, it must be my fault, right? The message that is always out there about people getting divorced too easily and just not trying hard enough helped reinforce these thoughts. But in reality, what happened throughout my marriage was that I lost myself more and more every day and became more and more miserable. There was always something around the corner that was going to make it better. Culminating in our child. And in some ways that *did* make life better because I was one of those women that fell in love with my baby the second I laid eyes on him. 10 years later I still think he’s pretty all right It didn’t make our marriage any better though. Eventually, as a mother, I came to think about the fact that the only thing I want for my boy is to figure out who he really is, what is really important to him, and to live in line with that and be happy. And eventually I realised that I had to value myself as much and want the same for me too.
It took a lot of work and some good counseling but I realised that I was better off without my husband. I could be a much better mother that way too. Turns out that was spot on as it’s much easier to be patient and understanding when you’re happy and not living on edge. While it has been hard, especially for a 7 year old to understand why his parents aren’t together, he is beginning to. And while I thought I was fooling everyone, it seems maybe it was only me because so many people commented on how miserable I used to be when I was married compared to now. I was so much better on my own.
A religious friend of mine has said to me that she believes that people are happier when they are in a marriage between a man and a woman. The thing is, that thought, like so many others like it, fails to factor in the individuality of every person and every situation. Not to mention that not everybody even identifies with the standard gender binary at all. Maybe she is in a wonderful marriage that works beautifully for who she is. Who am I to judge? But there is no way anybody was better off if I had left things the way they were and stayed married. I can only imagine how screwed up I’d be by now. I just don’t believe there is any such thing as the ‘right’ way to do things.
Something may be right for one person and not another. Something may be very right at a point in time and then all of a sudden just not at all. We need to be free to figure these things out for ourselves without the judgment of others.
For a while I wondered if it was really possible to have a truly good relationship. One where you were better with someone than without them. It was certainly nothing I had ever experienced, though I did know some people who seemed to. At least they said they did. In all my past relationships I was happier when apart from the other person. In retrospect that is clearly a sign that the relationships weren’t right however at the time I really did think that was just the way things were for everyone. The whole relationship thing really didn’t seem all that attractive at that point.
When I was completely certain I was better off on my own I met my partner and found myself in exactly that situation that I had thought impossible. Things are just better when we are together. We seem to somehow bring out the best in each other and it’s really quite great. Maybe if I’d found myself in a relationship like this much earlier in life I would have thought everyone was better off that way too. I’d like to think not though. I’ve always been the kind of person that believes everyone should be free to figure out what works for them, provided nobody else is getting hurt. And that’s the exact argument for marriage equality in my mind. Everybody should be free to choose their partner and to choose the kind of relationship they want to be in. And if that’s marriage, for goodness sake don’t have stupid nonsensical rules about who is worthy and who isn’t.