How to deal when others refuse to acknowledge your marriage.
February 9, 2009 2:40 PM   Subscribe

Over the summer, I got married. For the most part, this is totally awesome. Due to circumstances beyond our control, though, we got married by eloping to Canada, and for many people, this seems to make our marriage less than real. I'm having a hard time dealing with it.

For the most part, we're a really boring, ordinary couple: we're in our early thirties, we have an eight-year-old daughter who's biologically mine with a previous partner, though she's never known any father other than my husband.

There's one catch, though: my husband is transsexual, meaning that he was born female. We live in Ohio, which is a state that doesn't allow him to change his birth certificate, nor does it recognize "same-sex marriages". We love each other, though, and wanted the validation that marriage provides, so we decided to elope to Canada.

Doing so filled a real need for us, but it seems to have fallen flat for just about everyone else.

Before I go further, it's worth mentioning that my family and most of my friends do not know that he's trans. The reason is twofold--first because it's none of their damn business what he's got in his pants, and second because my family are very traditional and very Catholic, and they would not "get" or support us in any way if they knew. (I say this based on previous experience--my last serious relationship was with a woman, with whom I lived for three years. She wasn't welcome at family functions, and was never referred to as anything but my "roommate". My mother informed me that I was only with my partner to hurt my family. I do not think that telling them about my husband's trans history would go well.)

So we're very happily married. I just can't get past the fact that...well, that no one else seems to care. My family feels that since they weren't there, it somehow matters less--they even refused to come to a "yay, we got married" party because they felt that it was "too much to ask" of them. (We live an hour away.) I can count on one hand the number of people who even congratulated us--even my friends (some of whom know why we did things like we did) pretty much ignored it entirely.

Making things worse is the fact that my husband recently lost his job, and we can't even get him on my health insurance because we're not legally married in Ohio--we're constantly being reminded of what we can't have. Add that to the fact that a huge number of our friends are having kids (which is something that--for obvious reasons--is going to be difficult, if not impossible for us to do) and I'm feeling...well, really left out.

I'm incredibly angry and hurt that the happiest day of my life has been largely ignored, and that society is set up in such a way that we can't even have the most basic rights that are afforded to "normal" couples. I'm even angrier that now we're expected to be celebratory and happy for people who have the priviledge of doing things the socially-accepted way when they couldn't even be arsed to congratulate us.

I realize that this is the sort of Ask that's begging for a hundred responses of "Therapy, now," but between the job loss and an insurance policy that doesn't cover therapy, it's not really an option for us. I've reached a point where I'm breaking down every time someone sends me another baby announcement or wedding invitation, and I don't have any idea how to deal.

I love my life so much--my husband is my best friend, and our daughter is amazing. We own a house, we have great pets, I have a reasonably solid career and my husband has a job interview on Wednesday. Things are, objectively, pretty great for us. I just--I guess that I feel like no one else recognizes that, and I'm hurt. I've reached a point where if I could walk away from the rest of my life, if I could just tell my family and friends to screw off and somehow start over, I would. But my daughter loves her grandparents, and I...well, I don't know if I can deal with feeling even more isolated because I've told my friends to fuck off.

If there are online resources, message boards, anything, please point me to them, because I don't know what to do. Alternatively, how have you come to terms with the failure of the people around you to acknowledge your happiness?

Questions--or answers you'd prefer to keep anonymous--can be directed to anonymous.secret.email@gmail.com.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (32 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
If there are online resources, message boards, anything, please point me to them, because I don't know what to do.

Are you looking for a gay marriage support network? Are you looking for affordable therapy alternatives? I'm so sorry that you're going through this. That has to suck. But what, specifically, are you asking?
posted by katillathehun at 2:53 PM on February 9, 2009


I by no means think that what i am going to say is going to make the hurt go away, but what you need to remind yourself of and your husband of, is that you have each other. On top of that, you have an amazing daughter that you speak of. Specifically, this:

I love my life so much--my husband is my best friend, and our daughter is amazing. We own a house, we have great pets, I have a reasonably solid career and my husband has a job interview on Wednesday.

I am sorry that others are not recognizing the fantastic feelings that you feel right now, and understand how that can be hurtful, not to mention a complete let down. However, you did not get married for them, the non congratulatory brand of people you are associated with. You got married for yourself, and for your husband and your daughter, and should feel free to scream it from the tops of roofs that you found the love of your life.

I understand that money is tight right now, but can you and your husband throw a party for yourselves? i went to a fantastic potluck reception hosted by a couple who eloped in California. It was laid back and everyone helped by bringing a dish, or bottle of wine to share. the decorations were minimal, but it allowed everyone to focus on the importance of these two people finding each other. Maybe if you could pull something off like that, invite the friends and family, you would get the congratulations that you want (this is not AT ALL to say they shouldn't have congratulated you in the first place, but as you mentioned, people are hard wired in our society to need a celebration to maximize their well wishes). If they don't come, you should speak with them, and be honest with them about how hurt you were that they could not make the trek.

But anyway - CONGRATULATIONS!
posted by wocka wocka wocka at 2:54 PM on February 9, 2009


I am also married to a man who was born female, though we are legally married in the state where we live.

But that's not the thing I think we have in common from your post. We got married on short notice, at the courthouse, on our lunch break, because my prescriptions benefits for an expensive drug I really needed had run out--we basically got married so that I could get onto his health insurance.

The weird thing was, that it then really hurt me that some people--most notably my parents--didn't acknowledge the wedding. I'd have said it wasn't that big a deal to me, but after the fact, I found I missed having the support and validation I'd have gotten if we'd had a bigger wedding. It seemed "not real" to people, I guess, because they weren't there for it, and knew we didn't have a big do.

I think people took their cue from me: "we got married on short notice at the courthouse and you weren't invited; not a deal." If I'd realized I was going to care about responses, I'd have sent different cues.

I'm surprised people wouldn't come to your party, though. That's what I would have suggested--give people a chance to celebrate with you. But your people didn't take that chance.

I'd also say: my partner and I know that, in the only two cases we know of where a marriage including a transsexual was challenged, the court dissolved the marriage. But we got married anyway. Does your partner have state ID with an M on it? Or simply with a male name and male-looking picture? When we applied for our marriage license here in Michigan, nobody even asked for ID (they didn't at the courthouse when we got married, either...it was weird). I don't know what it's like in Ohio to get a license, but for us the lack of a birth certificate wouldn't have mattered (though if it's kept your husband from getting a driver's license with the correct gender on it, that might be a bigger deal).

I'll ask my partner if he knows of any trans couples in Ohio and what their experiences have been.

We've had three kids together, post-transition. Two by donor insemination and one by adoption. Not to derail, but if that's a topic you ever wanted to chat about, you could MeMail me.
posted by not that girl at 3:16 PM on February 9, 2009 [3 favorites]


Congratulations! I know you had real reasons for going about things the way you did - but your family doesn't know and the results of elopement are pretty predictable. When you don't have a wedding and invite your loved ones, your loved ones are going to figure that you just wanted to get the paper and make it legal.... it's not reasonable to be upset with people for not making a big deal out of your wedding when you yourself didn't make a big deal. I don't know whether you need therapy, but I think you should spend some time sorting out who you're mad at and why - because it's not the fault of your family and friends that you couldn't legally marry your partner in your state... and nobody ever gets excited about weddings they weren't invited to. I'd try not to take it personally.
posted by moxiedoll at 3:22 PM on February 9, 2009


Congratulations to you both.
I know I am not the one you want to hear that from but there you are.

It does seem that you need to widen your circle a bit. You don't need to burn any bridges, you just need to find people who are more accepting. Once you are too busy with the friends that accept and love you more fully for who you are to spend time with these others then you will have worked past this.
posted by pointilist at 3:26 PM on February 9, 2009


Did you have the "Yay, We Got Married Party!" or not? Wasn't sure based on how you worded that sentence. If you didn't have one, I think you should- often, when people run off and elope, it's because they don't want to deal with all the traditional wedding fuss. Like not that girl says, it sends the message that you don't want the attention. Even if your parents don't come (and I bet they'll give in and come, if you have one), it could be a nice celebration with friends.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 3:27 PM on February 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


Do the people in your life know that this marriage is a big deal? Because if you're already cohabiting then they may not feel there is a difference.

If a couple who had been living together for a long time went off to Vegas and eloped I probably wouldn't congratulate them on it unless A) it was at some kind of "yay we got married" party or B) they gave me the news personally. By eloping out of town you've made a statement that you want your marriage to be a private affair (after all you could have invited everyone to a wedding in Canada or had a wedding ceremony in Ohio that just wasn't an "official" wedding), so I just wouldn't bring it up.

If it's too late to have a big party to celebrate the wedding why not plan for a 1st anniversary party? Let people know that the marriage is important to you and your partner and at the same time give them a chance to be a part of it.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 3:28 PM on February 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


For me, part of the point of committed relationships is to have someone whose opinion you value more than that of "the crowd". So when you find yourself thinking about "what does Mary my sister think", train yourself to catch it and then instead say, "what does my husband think?" Then actually ask him what he thinks.

Congradulations by the way.
posted by peter_meta_kbd at 3:40 PM on February 9, 2009


I was going to chime in and say that, as far as your friends' reactions go, they're not going to make a big deal about your marriage when you didn't. Or at least when it seems to them that you didn't.

My husband and I got married at the courthouse last October. The only person other than the judge and us was my brother-in-law, because he wanted to be our witness. Absolutely no one, not even our parents, made a fuss over the wedding. And why would they? We didn't have some big ceremony, we didn't act like it was a big deal. And truthfully, for us, it wasn't really a big deal; it wasn't a fundamental change in our relationship since we'd been together six years and had lived together nearly the entire time.

For you, the wedding was a much bigger deal than your friends could discern, I'm sure. It sucks because you had to go elope in Canada because society is messed up, so no one else got to actually be there and experience anything with you to understand what it meant to you. But you're getting the same reaction any straight couple gets when they don't have much in the way of a wedding, really. I would be willing to bet that your friends mean nothing by it. They're just going off the cues they'd normally go off of; if someone fusses about their huge wedding for weeks, it means that the actual ceremony means something to them, and if they don't, it usually means they fall in my and my husband's camp, where it's just a formality and fussing over it would be weird. They may have misread the cues, but it doesn't mean they don't care about you or your happiness.

Also, I wonder... You feel your parents would not accept your relationship if they knew that your husband was born female, and you are constantly reminded that your marriage is not legally recognized where you live, that your marriage is different from your friends' marriages. That's rough and would be stressful for anyone. Are you sure, though, that you aren't letting those feelings leak over into how your perceive your friends? My concern is that you're painting your friends unfairly, basically; you have a general feeling of being unaccepted which makes you feel unhappy and defensive and angry, so you project that onto your friends when their behavior is actually innocent. People do that for less charged situations than this, so I would be surprised if it weren't the case for you. For example, if a friend betrays my trust, for a couple months I am edgy and read all sorts of silly things into my other friends' interactions with me. It's entirely unfair to them. I've become aware when I'm doing it, so I don't go around genuinely suspicious of them like I may have once done, but that paranoid "no one actually cares about me" feeling can be hard to shake when you feel wronged. If you act on those feelings you can really ruin something that was a good thing; no one wants to be friends with someone who expects them to read their mind and say exactly what they wanted to hear, even if we all have moments where we expect that of our friends. Most people reasonably assume if they're nice and supportive when they're asked for support, no drama should come up. Don't drop a surprise drama bomb on them and get angry about how they haven't been happier about your marriage; they don't deserve that. I bet you they would just be baffled and think, "What? Of course I'm happy for her. What did she want from me?"

In other words, I don't think it's other people you need to deal with right now, so much as managing your feelings and making sure you're not expecting unreasonable things from your friends. From your post, it sounds like your friends have behaved like normal human beings and probably care about you as much as any friend cares about another. It's just that right now you're feeling like your marriage is generally an unwelcome thing and you need more reassurance than your friends can reasonably be expected to understand or predict. The solution is to quit being mad at your friends when they haven't done anything wrong. Try talking to one of them about how you feel, but not in an accusatory way that implies they haven't been happy for you. Something like, "I've been so upset lately, I feel like no one takes my marriage seriously," go into the legal issues or your family or whatever. Almost certainly, unless I've misread this and your friends are actually jerks about your marriage, you'll find that they're sympathetic and feel bad for your situation and wish you only happiness. I think even having a good cry with one of them might be reassuring; it'll remind you that they don't look down on your marriage, and that they support you.

The legal system and your family you're right to feel anger toward. Just please don't lump your friends in when, right now, you probably need them more than ever. You don't want to look back at this years later and think that you treated your friends badly just because you were going through a hard time and felt insecure. If you let them know what you need, they will be there for you.
posted by Nattie at 3:57 PM on February 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


are you part of a trans community? or do you live in a small town... i have trans-couple friends and im sure its very important that they have that community support of the local trans community. but also they have open minded friends. and live in canada! but you could look online for nearby trans community. good luck to you, it sounds like hell not having the support you deserve. otherwise consider moving to toronto!
posted by beccyjoe at 3:58 PM on February 9, 2009


I'd say your family are assholes, they likely decided upon being assholes during your previous girlfriend, or when you had a daughter without being married, etc. You'll never change their minds, your better off not worrying about this. Don't let your daughter be overly exposed to their bigotry.

I'd say your best move is simply making more friends, maybe within various liberal communities, even LGBTs. If you have hobbies, try those groups, or their LGBT versions.

If your very rich, your lawyer might find weird tricks where you can gain residency in another country, port over the birth certificate with changes, and port the birth certificate back, but this sounds like far far too much trouble when your family has already decided against you.
posted by jeffburdges at 4:16 PM on February 9, 2009


I totally agree with moxiedoll.

You say: I'm incredibly angry and hurt that the happiest day of my life has been largely ignored, and that society is set up in such a way that we can't even have the most basic rights that are afforded to "normal" couples. I'm even angrier that now we're expected to be celebratory and happy for people who have the priviledge of doing things the socially-accepted way when they couldn't even be arsed to congratulate us.

Your anger seems misplaced. Perhaps you should be angry at society for making it hard to get married in Ohio, or making it difficult to be public about the nature of your relationship. But as to your family and friends? Remember that it's unfair to angry with people for things that they don't know or wouldn't necessarily guess. Sounds like you have good reason to angry with your family for their general attitude toward you, but as to the wedding, it may look to them like you took your business to Canada with no effort to include them. Ditto for some of your friends. As to those who know why you did what you did, perhaps they expect you want to be left alone. And recall that lots of people don't get congratulated on stuff, normal or otherwise. I can't tell you the number of times siblings or best friends haven't shown up at weddings of others I know, so it's not like the grass is always greener -- and that's even without decamping north.

Part of you seems to be justifying the anger, as opposed to simply describing it, so let me just ask -- what's the point? Sure, you could withhold your good wishes from every "normal" couple that seems to expect your congratulations, on grounds of reciprocity, but it doesn't seem very productive.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 4:18 PM on February 9, 2009


I don't have an answer to your main question, as such, but I just wanted to say that this isn't in any way "the sort of Ask that's begging for a hundred responses of 'Therapy, Now!'". Nothing in your question suggests that you need therapy. You are angry because of a real injustice which is directly affecting you. It would be odder if you weren't. I'm angry just reading and thinking about it.
posted by Acheman at 4:24 PM on February 9, 2009 [5 favorites]


That sucks, but it's important to remember that most people elope because they don't want their marriage to be a big deal, so a lot of folks are probably reacting based on that assumption.
posted by YoungAmerican at 4:35 PM on February 9, 2009


"the failure of the people around you to acknowledge your happiness"

With regards only to your friends... do they engage in this behaviour regularly or are you referring specifically to your wedding?

I know your emotions are high at the moment but this distinction matters if you're considering telling them to screw off permanently. Examine their behaviour toward your husband over the long-term; specifically do those who knows his trans history speak to him with respect, treat him with dignity and accept your relationship?

I'm also not clear on whether you did host a celebration or your parents refused to come so you didn't go ahead with it. If you didn't have one... why not throw a fun party now, to give people a chance to show their support?

I'm completely on your side regarding the injustice of your state laws. You seem to have a lot of personal investment in trans issues - would you consider engaging in queer advocacy or political work? It might help you exercise some of that well-earned passion. It couldn't hurt your daughter either, to see her parents fight for an important cause.
posted by cranberrymonger at 4:52 PM on February 9, 2009


I'd say your family are assholes, they likely decided upon being assholes during your previous girlfriend, or when you had a daughter without being married, etc. You'll never change their minds

I don't know your mom, but if she is like most mothers she dearly loves you and really, really wants you to be happy. Sure all that religious stuff is in the way and she may have been too quick to condemn you for being a lesbian, but now you are married to a man--which should be a dream come true for her. Would it be possible to cry on her shoulder? Could you let your guard down and show her how badly you feel? If she sees how hurt you are maybe she will rally round the troops and get other people in your family to be more supportive.

I think that what has happened is that you had an unorthodox lifestyle and now you've gone and run off to marry some guy they don't know very well and "heaven only knows what you are going to do next." Visit your family. Show-off the new husband. Act like a newlywed. When your family catches on to the fact that this isn't just some hare-brained scheme of yours, hopefully they will show more enthusiasm for celebrating your wedding vows.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 5:06 PM on February 9, 2009


Congratulations on the marriage, and aww, hey, sucks about the bullshit hoops that you had to jump through. I'm sorry that your folks won't acknowledge the marriage, even though you're kinda sending them mixed messages out of necessity.

I realize that this may be cold comfort, but really, the best thing that could happen from this question immediately is that you get a fair amount of sympathy from a community that (at least moderately) cares about you.

One further thing—being from Michigan and looking over the border frequently at the absolutely immense amount of idiocy down there, I have to say that Ohio fucking sucks. It's a shitty, retarded state that's at least half full with priggish jackasses, comprising the worst parts of the Midwest mindset. I remember fighting as hard as I could against that stupid fucking initiative that denies you basic human rights, then doing the same in Michigan when they pushed it through.

Though I'm a straight white guy, that was one of those things that motivated me to move the hell out, because if they were going to treat my friends like that, fuck 'em. I'm not sinking with their ship.

So my advice is to get the hell out as soon as possible. In a more ideal world, you'd couple that with your husband coming out to your parents, then telling the whole state to get fucked. Unfortunately, you're just another good person suffering because of reactionary prejudices, and you've either got to dig deep and try to get their laws overturned or say, fuck it, I'm just going to go someplace else and wait until the fucktards die before moving back.
posted by klangklangston at 5:14 PM on February 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


"the failure of the people around you to acknowledge your happiness"

People are not required to acknowledge your happiness. Heck - they are not required to even acknowledge you. It is a free country and people have rights to be jerks.
I know it's a cliche - but you can't change people and their attitude. You can only change you and your attitude. So yes, the overabundance of anger you have (some rightfully so) will elicit "go see a therapist" response from me.

And a food for thought - you're angry over behavior of people that do not fit nicely with your world view. For that you have the knee jerk response of wanting to cut off relations with them. But to your family, it is you and your lover that did not fit nicely with their world view, however distorted that might be. Wouldn't it be normal then that they wanted nothing to do with her?
No - I'm not justifying what they did. But they did something that hurt you. And think about it - you are about to do the same exact thing.

Please don't get me wrong. I'm not justifying what they did. I'm also not advocating that you continue in a toxic relationship with your family. But this knee jerk behavior seems to run in your family.
posted by 7life at 5:16 PM on February 9, 2009


Congratulations!

A couple folks upthread are suggesting you get new friends. That seems like overkill. But I think you and your husband might want to consider talking about this with the friends you've got.

Hear me out. You say you aren't telling your parents because they're bigots, and that's understandable. But your only stated reason for not telling your friends is "It's none of their business."

Well, I agree that it doesn't have to be their business. (I certainly wouldn't insist on knowing what's in any of my friends' pants.) But if you and your husband want to make it their business, you have every right to.

And honestly, the current situation really isn't about your husband's bits anyway. It's about two people who love each other and are struggling with an enormous injustice. Tell some friends that story, make it clear that you aren't going to share any private details about anyone's anatomy or sex life, and if they're really your friends they'll give you the support you need.

Of course, if your friends are horrible bigots too, then I wholeheartedly endorse the suggestion to get new ones.
posted by nebulawindphone at 5:21 PM on February 9, 2009


There's a lot there that your friends and family don't know about. From their perspective you guys just eloped, which is usually an indication that the couple don't want a fuss made.

If you want people to care about things like why you couldn't legally get married in your home town, that your husband can't get on your medical insurance, that you can't have biological children together, or that your feelings are hurt, you have to tell them.
posted by The corpse in the library at 5:46 PM on February 9, 2009 [4 favorites]


I'm incredibly angry and hurt that the happiest day of my life has been largely ignored

Making a big deal over the wedding day being the ¨happiest day of your life¨ is something that usually goes along with a big huge expensive wedding that is supposed to be absolutely perfect in every way. The bride in such an affair is sometimes referred to as ¨bridezilla.¨ Eloping with someone you live with already is considered less in need of formal acknowledgment. It´s possible that many of your friends already thought of you as essentially married and do not see this as a big change.

Nothing that you have mentioned indicates that your friends and family have not acknowledged that you are married -- this would be things like correcting you if you say ¨my husband¨, or insisting that you are not married because it was not in their church. Your family is probably hurt that they were not invited to a wedding ceremony and reception.

Congratulations on your marriage, but I certainly hope that it not the happiest day of your life. One hopes that life would become happier after marriage. Work on making your marriage a good one, and worry less over what others think of your personal life.
posted by yohko at 5:49 PM on February 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's not exactly therapy, but I think you might really feel better if you could talk with other couples in your situation. TransOhio maintains a list of online resources for spouses and partners, and their newsletters mention some events and support groups around the state. New friendships won't erase the hurt you're feeling because your family and friends have ignored such an important new phase of your life, but they might help you feel more recognized as a couple. Congratulations to you and your husband.
posted by gladly at 7:40 PM on February 9, 2009


One further thing—being from Michigan and looking over the border frequently at the absolutely immense amount of idiocy down there, I have to say that Ohio fucking sucks. It's a shitty, retarded state that's at least half full with priggish jackasses, comprising the worst parts of the Midwest mindset. I remember fighting as hard as I could against that stupid fucking initiative that denies you basic human rights, then doing the same in Michigan when they pushed it through.

Though I'm a straight white guy, that was one of those things that motivated me to move the hell out, because if they were going to treat my friends like that, fuck 'em. I'm not sinking with their ship.

So my advice is to get the hell out as soon as possible. In a more ideal world, you'd couple that with your husband coming out to your parents, then telling the whole state to get fucked. Unfortunately, you're just another good person suffering because of reactionary prejudices, and you've either got to dig deep and try to get their laws overturned or say, fuck it, I'm just going to go someplace else and wait until the fucktards die before moving back.


I strongly oppose the laws you're complaining about, but come on . . . Self-congratulate much?

The OP presumably knows a thing or two about the issue in moving back. She says life is generally pretty great for her now, there. And try, just try, to live near the border with Texas, Louisiana, . . . ah hell, this approach would foreclose living in the decided majority of U.S. states, incl. California. I tend to doubt that voting with her feet will solve anything.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 7:46 PM on February 9, 2009


Making a big deal over the wedding day being the ¨happiest day of your life¨ is something that usually goes along with a big huge expensive wedding that is supposed to be absolutely perfect in every way. The bride in such an affair is sometimes referred to as ¨bridezilla.¨ Eloping with someone you live with already is considered less in need of formal acknowledgment. It´s possible that many of your friends already thought of you as essentially married and do not see this as a big change.
And this is right how? I agree that your wedding day really wouldn't be the happiest, most meaningful or even the most significant day in your life. Not even of your married life - those should all come later. But the day that should be the easiest of your married life (if it's not, you're probably doing it wrong IMHO) is just as much about committing to your community as it is to each other. What sort of a statement is it that such a symbolic moment should have to be drowned in, beaten by and obscured with drama just to be appreciated or, heck even noticed and acknowledged?
posted by mce at 7:49 PM on February 9, 2009


But the day that should be the easiest of your married life (if it's not, you're probably doing it wrong IMHO) is just as much about committing to your community as it is to each other. What sort of a statement is it that such a symbolic moment should have to be drowned in, beaten by and obscured with drama just to be appreciated or, heck even noticed and acknowledged?

1. This is all a big distraction: the point isn't about her wedding day, it's about acknowledging her marriage. That said, the idea that the wedding day is being done wrong if it's not the "easiest of your married life" is so wildly inconsistent with common experience that your advice reduces to: world, you're doing it wrong.

2. Again, it's not the "symbolic moment" at all. But I am at a loss to see how the failure to notice or acknowledge something (really, the marriage, but never mind) drowns, beats in, or obscures the wedding/marriage with drama. The entire problem, rather, is the lack of appreciative attention (closer to a lack of drama), and some commenting here think that the drama is being generated by the OP.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 7:57 PM on February 9, 2009


My husband and I had a very small wedding including his parents, my parents, my sister and her husband and their two kids, and our two best friends. I had had surgery for cancer the month before and radiation the week before the wedding, and I was off work at the time. No one at work knew I was getting married that day. The ceremony was at city hall. It took about 15 minutes. We went to our friends' condo afterward for dinner, cooked by my father-in-law.

I think it's obnoxious that people expect others to celebrate them in these moments; marriage, as far as I'm concerned, is personal. It's between me and my husband. I'm glad my parents and his were present; I hadn't met his parents before, and it was nice for us all to spend a little time together. Needless to say I wasn't in the best of health at the time, and the small affair we put together required more energy than I had (I spent the next week in pain), but even in barring that I'm glad we kept it intimate.

I wanted no gifts from my colleagues, because we're both in our mid-30s and aren't in need of anything. I would have felt greedy and a little dirty accepting gifts from the people I work with, some of whom have huge debts as it is. I think showers should be held for people when they first move away from home or into their first condo or house, not when they get married. Everyone at work took the hint from my very quiet, low-key approach to getting married. I don't think I got so much as a card. I'm happy about that. I like that my marriage is still a private affair. I'm glad it was about us and not someone else's money or choice of gifts.

I agree with everyone else that you gave out signals that you didn't want your wedding to be a big deal. Since the two of you had been living together and raising a child together for a long time, that does probably give another hint that this is more of a legal matter.

Look inside your relationship for the validation of your marriage. Expecting this kind of emotional scaffolding from others is always a dangerous game. Life is short. No point spending it miserable.

As for the marriage and rights issues: you're voting with your money by staying in Ohio. I realize moves are a big deal, but if you're serious about wanting a validated relationship, you're going to need to move to a state/country that actually validates them.
posted by Hildegarde at 8:19 PM on February 9, 2009


This is exactly the reason we usually have a big ceremony for a wedding. You can't skip that part, the part where you get together with your friends and family and celebrate your marriage, and still expect them to celebrate your marriage in the same way.
posted by The Monkey at 9:08 PM on February 9, 2009


I am not a therapist, but some things struck me about your post.

First, you say repeatedly that your marriage ought to be considered the same as a normal marriage. This ought to be true. Unfortunately the law disagrees- in this country transgendered persons are not always considered the sex they identify with, and gay couples in most states cannot marry. In that way, a lot of your anger ought to be at the unfairness of the laws, and the outdated pseudo-moralistic attitudes behind them, but instead seems aimed mostly at those closest to you. This legal situation is not their fault though, and you need to recognize that.

Next, you seem to be really conflicted about this whole thing. It's like you want to tell them why you had to elope, so they'll be more understanding why you didn't have a traditional wedding. But at the same time you hold yourself back for the fear that things will get worse if your family found out about his trans past. And above all, that it shouldn't really matter in the first place how he was born. Only it does matter- maybe not to you, but it does to your parents and the state. Unfortunately you have to pick one- either you tell them and hope they'll understand, or you keep quiet and try to impress on them how much this means to you. You can't not tell them and then blame them for not knowing/understanding, especially since eloping cut them out of the wedding in the first place.

Lastly, maybe I'm reading too much into this, but I feel that your chief frustration and ire is really directed towards your family because they haven't been supportive enough- either of your marriage or of you. It seems to have been there even before the elope- my guess is that your parents considered you the willful child, after all they did see your previous relationship with a woman as a rebellion against them. I gather they didn't give their approval to your current marriage either, dismissed your decision to elope, and and probably don't see any reason for your current unhappiness with them, either. At the least, they didn't understand why you did the things you did, or at the most perhaps they disapproved of them. I don't know for sure, but I do think part of the real issue here is the relationship you have with them.

I can't tell you what you need to do, all I can say is, hang in there, and don't give up- I know otherwise you're happy, but this is really bothering you inside and you've got to resolve this somehow.

Good luck and of course, Congratulations!
posted by tachikoma_robot at 10:34 PM on February 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


So I think the point I was trying to make in there somewhere was just that you seem to be concentrating overtly on the eloping itself, ceremonies and lack of congratulations, when that's just the symptoms of things- and really it's about you and your relationship with your family (and friends.) and their acceptance of your marriage. And that's not something you can solve just by throwing a party.
posted by tachikoma_robot at 11:30 PM on February 9, 2009


Keep the positive things in your life, and dump the rest, including family who choose to be negative rather than positive forces.

On a side note, I've never quite gotten why so many hold family to a lower standard than friends. If I had a friend who treated me poorly, I'd dump them. Why would I accept anything less than friend-level treatment from a family member?
posted by coolguymichael at 8:17 AM on February 10, 2009


I only scanned the above responses because I only have a minute to post.

But some of what you're going through resonates deeply. And I think we both conflate the hurt of two different situations - the wedding itself and the larger issues beneath it.

I'm an international student having a hard time getting funding. Part of the hurt is that if we weren't a same-sex couple, we could just get married and her income would "officially" support me to get a visa. But we can't. So people focus on the funding problem, which is fine, but the bigger hurt is that nobody is acting to get the BASE problem rectified. I secretly want people to be so outraged that they also write letters and campaign for gay rights. But they don't; they commiserate on the problem of academic funding (which is obviously still a problem).

You want congratulations on the wedding, but because you are able to live lives as a situation-free straight couple, the trip to Canada read like a quick elopement and subtly told people: it's not a big deal, it's private, don't come.

But really you want their congratulations to recognize both the trouble you went to BECAUSE of a larger US injustice, and acknowledgment of that injustice itself. It's doubly hard because it seems like most folks don't even have any idea about the underlying reasons. I'd wager that those who DO know still don't really really get it. We're just a regular ol' dykey couple and most straights never ever ever understand the kinds of regular hoops we have to jump through for everyday things.

I'm really sorry you're going through this. I'd really suggest finding a trans- or queer community of some sort, even if online, for a bit of moral support. I've found it helps just to have very close gay/trans friends for support when I'm particularly upset - it's like there's no real explanations needed. I totally, totally get what you're going through, would let you cry or go on, add my own stories, and just "be" while dealing with this shit; and I don't even know you - I hope you have people in your life from whom you can get that kind of comfort.
posted by barnone at 9:35 AM on February 10, 2009


How recent was the marriage?

There's a lot of people that elope, have a wedding overseas, or with half of the family in one country, then repeat their vows in their hometown or with the other half of their family.

Could you do something like that? Or hold a handfasting?

It may feel 'too late', or you may already have done that with the 'we're married'. But I'm just putting it out there for other people who find themselves in your situation.

You could even phrase it something like - some family/friends felt like we didn't want to include them with our elopement, and that wasn't our intention, so we're having a more traditional, but low-key ceremony here....
posted by Elysum at 3:07 PM on February 12, 2009


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