A few months ago, my husband and I announced that we'd gotten married on the most wide-reaching publication known to us: Facebook.
Yup, we changed our statuses. Everyone knew we were engaged and that we'd been planning a very small destination ceremony, but what they didn't know was that we'd already been married for two years.
Let's back this up. Two years ago, my boyfriend and I had been dating for a little over a year and were head over heels in love. And not the crazy kind of love, where it feels like a self-destructing entity and you're just trying to enjoy it while you can. This was a fully immersive and yet still functional and beautiful relationship.
My boyfriend had some issues with the words associated with commitment, but not the actions. Though we'd only recently started saying "I love you," I knew by how he treated me that he had loved me for quite some time. So obviously, marriage had not even been put on the table and wasn't something I was desperately salivating for. We were happy.The Big (Quiet) Day
Then life struck -- in two weird ways. First, my boyfriend, who was in the country on a work visa, was facing the fact that it would be running out in about six months. He had been trying to launch a freelance career but knew that as long as he had to satisfy the government, he wouldn't be able to freelance his heart out. Second, I had a pretty severe health crisis, one that I almost didn't survive. My entire life and the way I thought about the future was thrown into chaos, but a beautiful kind of chaos. I felt completely refocused. My man and I were closer than ever and had become close to each others' families.
I don't remember how the conversation began, and I'm sure it was a joke at first, but we started talking about the possibility of getting married. From what we figured, it seemed like both a crazily impulsive romantic thing to do and served the very utilitarian function of keeping him in the country. So, three months after I got out of the hospital, and two months after we'd moved in together, we were married by a Justice of the Peace on a Saturday morning at the courthouse.
Why We Kept It a Secret
The decision to keep it a secret from the rest of the world was an easy one to make. We knew how it would sound if people found out that we'd gotten married -- a couple who'd been dating one year, with one person needing a green card and the other having a near-death experience.
We knew people would think we were rushing into things, and we were, but didn't want the expectation of failure associated with that. Also, after being that ill and having so much of my personal life turned into common knowledge for people who were wishing me well, it felt nice to have something that belonged to me and the people I cared about the most.
Why I'm Glad We Did What We Did
Right after the wedding, when a lot of couples are trying to downshift from the insanity of a large to-do, we were able to relax and, instead of fielding congratulations and questions, enjoy each other and our new titles. It was tricky at first to not tell anyone. We set a timetable of announcing the "engagement" and the "wedding date" that we were both comfortable with, which involved him having to propose to me in a romantic way. A girl's gotta have some girly moments.
Sometimes it felt weird and awkward, introducing ourselves to strangers as boyfriend and girlfriend, and in low-self-esteem moments, I would recite the old adage about not buying the cow when you're getting the milk for free and try to make it apply to our situation, feeling like a sucker somehow.
But mostly, things have been wonderful and intimate, and for the last few years we've constructed a marriage for ourselves that has felt like an actual tangible thing that belongs to us and us alone. Rather than planning the wedding, we've been planning our marriage. I don't judge people who want to plan a big wedding -- in fact, now that we announced our marriage to the public we will be throwing ourselves a fun party full of dancing and fluffy dresses and cake. I'm just glad I have been able to have my cake, eat it too, and share it with my husband.
Beth Brennan is the pseudonym used by Lemondrop bloggers and contributors when we want to write naughty stuff but keep our jobs/boyfriends/dignity.