Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Married / Single / Other

Yesterday I was filling out a new patient form for my son's dentist appointment, and I got to the section that asks for information about the parent or guardian:

Phone Number.
Marital Status: Married / Single / Other

I have to admit, I paused.
Am I married? That's a loaded question. I could not circle it like I so effortlessly would have in the past. Single? No, I'm still sleeping in the same bed with the father of my children each night. Other? What does that even mean? And is that me? Is that what you call people who have been betrayed and yet are trying to move on as a married couple without feeling bound to them anymore?
I have heard a lot of people in my shoes say that they don't consider themselves to be married anymore; that they are merely in a long-term relationship with the parent of their children. I have definitely shared this sentiment on this journey. It makes sense; the term "marriage" implies a sacred covenant. You know, one man/one woman = one flesh. Well, that's out the window! If that's the "religious" meaning of marriage, then we are simply not married anymore. The promise was broken. (Though the biblical meaning of marriage is vague and contradictory anyway, given the fact that polygamy was embraced by Abraham, David, and other biblical heroes.)
And this is why I choose to not wear my wedding ring. Because my personal definition of marriage (you know, me and the rest of the Western world) is a contract of monogamy and faithfulness . The wedding ring symbolized this contract. The contract was broken, so now the ring represents a broken contract. Seems kinda silly to carry around that reminder 24/7.
I guess we are married by law, which really just makes it a civil union. We have a piece of paper that says we are lawfully bound. Any man and woman - and same-sex couples in many states - can walk in to the Justice of the Peace and become "married" for a fee. It holds no sentimental meaning to possess a marriage license.
Some couples in this unfortunate position renew vows to become re-married. I guess that makes the most sense from the spiritual and sentimental perspective. I'm just not ready to be made another promise. Vows are just words, and the words mean nothing when you don't adhere to them.
So how am I supposed to classify my marital status? I guess it depends on who you are talking to and how they define the word. For now, I guess I'll settle for "other."


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