Wife

I was never the kind of little girl who played wedding.

My childhood was filled with boy cousins and a brother so I spent most holidays and weekends playing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and football.

Once when I was twelve I took home a bridal magazine and cut out a few dresses but after a few hours I got bored, put down my scissors and went outside to climb trees.

All through my twenties I reveled being single. I loved living by myself, making decisions about where and how I lived, and decorating my apartment exactly the way I wanted.

I was lucky enough to be part of many weddings but I never thought much about getting married myself.

Now, with a ring on my finger and the wedding less than two months away, I find myself thinking about it a lot.

When I first got engaged, I was excited. People offered to throw me parties and I got to register for big-ticket gifts – not to mention I was marrying the man of my dreams. But after the initial excitement wore away I started to feel conflicted.

I found myself getting excited about wedding dress shopping and then trying to cover those feelings with an eye roll. I bought seven wedding magazines and then hid them under my bed so I wouldn’t look at them.

I didn’t understand what was happening. Wasn’t this supposed to be a special time in my life full of joy and tulle? Why couldn’t I embrace it?

Then, one day I sat down next to Jason on the couch and asked if he would be willing to take my last name instead of me taking his. He looked at me surprised and slowly put down his book, sensing a trap.

“Well…” he responded cautiously, “I don’t think I want to do that. But you don’t have to take my name either. Why don’t we just both keep our names?”

I sat there for a second, staring at him, then snapped, “That is just totally unfair!” And stormed out of the room.

I flopped down on the bed and stared at the ceiling. I could feel my mind edging around the real issue and finally landed in my brain.

I was struggling to reconcile my independent lifestyle with becoming someone’s wife.

Lately, with all the things swirling around about the politics of women’s bodies, women’s rights, and women’s pay, I felt incredibly protective over my independence.

Especially because, somehow in 2015, I still have to think about fighting for it.

Marriage itself, in its earliest definition, was about trading property – one of those properties being the woman. So why did I want this ceremony in the first place? Why didn’t we just live together for the rest of our lives and make my grandmother’s grey hair go completely white?

Because I still wanted it, that’s why.

Despite my hesitation and feminist ideals, I still wanted to wear the dress and have a party and, most importantly, stand up in front of all my friends and commit to Jason.

Isn’t that what being a modern woman is all about? Getting to live the life you want, even if it’s full of contradictions.

Because the scary truth is, getting married does mean I’m sacrificing some of my independence. But so is Jason. And that’s a choice we are both making in hopes of having something wonderful.

I reached under the bed, pulled out one of those bridal magazines, and walked back out to Jason.

I sat down next to him and stuck my feet under his legs. It didn’t feel suffocating or like I’m somehow I was compromising my ideals.

It just felt nice.

I started flipping through the magazine and after a while glanced over at my future husband.

“Hey, Jason.”

“Yeah?”

“I think I’m going to keep my last name.”

“Okay,” he said and squeezed my knee.

“Okay,” I said, feeling better already.

I flipped another page and then looked up.

“Now what about our kids?”

This piece was originally written for the Fargo Forum.  You can find them (and me) here.

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