I wrote a series of posts on this blog about two guys — a motorcop and a firefighter — who were adjusting to being out as gay men at their respective places of work and interacting with their (straight) co-workers, family, & friends, and were in a relationship with each other.
After two years of serious courtship, they were engaged to be married last May. I was very happy for both of them.
I thought they would marry last autumn, but…
…they each got cold feet. While they remained in a loving relationship, they each had some concerns about making the leap into marriage. Both come from a strong Catholic family background, and they each knew very much just what the commitment of marriage was all about. It was more than dating and having fun. To each of them, marriage was a lifetime commitment of love, honesty, monogamy, and support. But two men marrying each other directly conflicts with the teachings of their Church, and that gave them pause.
Also, Tom’s priest, a long-term family friend, tried to talk Tom out of proceeding with a marriage, as did a few members of Tom’s family. Those conversations caused conflict in their relationship.
I was not aware of these issues until I spoke with Tom on the phone over the holidays. Tom called me to say that he had received my Christmas card and was delighted to hear that my spouse was doing better. He remarked, in particular, about the photo that I included in a letter tucked into the card. (Photo shown here.) He said that he could see that we both were happy.
After the initial chit-chat, Tom asked a lot of questions about my marriage, my relationship, and what I thought about how my marriage to my spouse was actually working out. He asked many deeply probing questions. I could tell that he was sorting a lot of things out in his head.
I suggested that we meet with his partner Chad over lunch to discuss these matters together. We got together on December 31. Again — both had tons of questions. I could tell that they were seriously analyzing the situation and contemplating what actual marriage would mean for them.
I affirmed that my marriage meant more to me than a license, the benefits I receive, more favorable tax situation, or the ability to title our home as “tenants by the entirety.” No — much more than that. It is very hard to explain, but the inner sense of “oneness” that each of us feel in our hearts and minds is something that only marriage provides. My spouse means the world to me in all senses and what makes me “me.” Again, it is very hard to explain, but married people know the innermost feeling that marriage means — of devotion, love, compassion, understanding, dedication, commitment, and caring.
I really thought I felt that way about my partner in the 20 years before we married. I can honestly attest that there is a higher level of these feelings that occurs after marriage.
I truly sensed that because of Tom and Chad’s respective Catholic upbringing, they knew that a marriage was a one-time ultimate commitment. They also knew that if they married each other, they each would break bonds permanently with the Catholic Church because the Church would deem them to be sinners by violating the Church’s definition of holy matrimony.
Last night, Chad and Tom called me. They had made their decision. Ultimately, love and commitment won out over their struggle with their Church’s and (some of) their family’s acceptance (or not) of a same-sex marriage. They had gone to the courthouse and got their marriage license. They have made arrangements for a marriage ceremony to be conducted in a couple weeks in a county facility where they both have worked and has meaning to them.
They attributed much of their decision to observing how my spouse and I live and why we chose to be married. Aw shucks.
They invited my spouse and me to attend the ceremony — and we will. Fortunately, they are having a dinner after the ceremony — not a frilly-froo-froo big gay party. My spouse and I can handle that, and we both look forward to it.
Life is short: recognize what a commitment marriage means.