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The Worthiness of Waiting

June 28, 2013

…but not to have sex. No, as little as I personally like the idea of copulation, I’m of the opinion that two (or more) people who are sexual and want to get it on should do so whenever they feel comfortable enough with each other to take that step. Which may mean waiting until marriage if there are significant cultural/religious pressures involved, but hopefully means a willingness to learn and explore before signing onto a lifelong commitment with a high early contract termination fee.

No, I’m actually talking about that very contract. It’s an issue that’s been on my mind quite a bit this week, what with the roller coaster we U.S. social progressives have experienced this week–on the one hand, the Supreme Court effectively killed the Voting Rights Act on Tuesday, but on the other fairer-if-still-justifiably-bloody hand, SCOTUS also gutted the reprehensible Defense of Marriage Act the very next day. While many states are still reeling trying to figure out how this applies to them, others that have served as marriage-equality havens for a while are doubtlessly anticipating the flood of gay and lesbian couples from red(neck) areas who have been waiting a long, long time to get right with the law–or rather, get the law right with them.

I also learned that one of my favorite (straight) bartenders/waitresses at one of my favorite breakfast joints got engaged last week. When I expressed my congratulations, she said, “Well, we’ve been together seven years. It was about time!” I then congratulated her even harder.

See, I was with my ex for just under seven years. I also loyally follow Schadenfreude-laden sites like FMyLife and advice columns to make myself feel better. (These two random About Me facts are related. Honest.) And it seems as though every time someone submits a tale of woe about being rejected when he got down on one knee and pulled out the requisite blood diamond after having been together X number of years, some asinine comment invariably appears about how, “You waited three years to propose?! That’s too long! You should’ve proposed after the second!” or, “I just KNEW from the FIRST MOMENT I met my hubsy-poopsy that it was twu wuv! And after I roofied him and dragged him back to my lair and laid my eggs in his stomach, I PROVED IT TO THE WORLD!!!!1!!11!”

The gist of all these being that if you don’t propose around the second anniversary, something is horribly wrong with you and you clearly don’t love the girl (again, due to screwy adherence to screwy traditions, it’s always the man who has to propose. It would be horribly unfeminine for a dainty lady to take charge and discuss HER plans for marriage in such a theatrical manner). Sack up and commit yourself like a MAN, goddammit!

Okay. Maybe there are some people who do “just know.” Maybe they have enough of a solid foundation and have enough solid role models and extra-familial support to roll up their sleeves, take a deep breath, sign that marriage document, and actually hold up their respective ends of the bargain, for better or for worse, for one person’s whole lifetime after only knowing each for two years or less of that lifetime.

But man. I was still coming out of the crazy-in-lust stage with my ex after two years. Had he brought the idea of marriage up (and it would have been his idea, because even in my infatuation-drenched insanity, I was indifferent to the institution and not likely to voice a strong opinion for it), I could’ve been talked into it.

And years later, I would have been despairing, if not depressive. I doubt the sobering reality of a marriage contract would have made my ex behave any differently as far as his willingness to contribute more to our relationship. The cynic in me says the solidifying nature of such a legal bond (bind?) would have made him even less likely to put in even the appearance of upping his role, given that he, being a fellow child of divorce, also knows the kinds of financial and emotional drains the family court system sucks out of all who are swept through its muck.

My cautionary tale aside, apparently The Seven Year Itch is more than just a movie title. Couples can suffer from ennui and gradual-onset loathing after several years together, and though the seven-year figure isn’t exacting, there is grounding for my hypothesis that people really need to be romantically involved for well over two years before settling on one person whose presence they’re going to endure every day for the rest of their lives.

Of course, many of the gay and lesbian couples who have been waiting on the Justices to dole out justice have already lived the better, the worse, the sickness, the health, the best of times, and the worst of times many times over. They’ve put up with each other’s crap in addition to the U.S. government’s, and now, finally, the government has to butt out and let them either surmount or fall by their relationships’ internal barriers, same as us hetero folks.

So I salute those couples rushing to the courthouses in Massachusetts, New York, Iowa, and even our own (although here, they have to settle for civil unions rather than full-on marriage, even if the legal framework is mostly indistinguishable). I also salute those of all genders and orientations who have grown and changed together and still appreciate the person who’s come out on the other side. Welcome to the club!

And if it doesn’t work out that way, no problem! Those of you who decide the membership fees are too expensive are welcome to smoke a joint in the shack on the outskirts of the property with me!


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  1. I love this post. I’ve been in all those situations: people proposing too early, not soon enough, and I’m divorced. I also have scads of fabulous gay friends who are married, or will be by the weekend, and I’m super psyched for them. I really appreciate how honest and real you are. There is never any guessing where you stand on any issue, but you’re not judgmental. That’s hard to do well. You rock. Going now to the post before this one because the title alone already made me laugh out loud. Awesome.

  2. “I just KNEW from the FIRST MOMENT I met my hubsy-poopsy that it was twu wuv! And after I roofied him and dragged him back to my lair and laid my eggs in his stomach, I PROVED IT TO THE WORLD!!!!1!!11!”

    Ha! Good thing almost everyone else has left for the holiday, that made me literally LOL here at my desk.

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