Robert and I got married in 2010. Although I’d noticed over the years that Robert liked to cook a lot, and that he was a lot cleaner than I was, I didn’t realize the extent to which he differed from other guys in their twenties until we got engaged. Actually, that’s not exactly right. I didn’t realize how pervasive and persistent stereotypes against men in heterosexual relationships were until we got engaged. It surprised both of us that after dating through college, following me from Arizona to Michigan, deciding to propose, and saving up for a ring, people expected Robert to be scared of marriage. Not just scared, but terrified, and reluctant. They expected him to drag his feet kicking and screaming when we went to do wedding-related things and ignore me while I tried to make wedding-related lists. I won’t even pretend this makes sense to me. If Robert was at all like that, I doubt very much that I’d feel good about marrying him, and I don’t think he would have decided to ask me.
We were engaged for 13 months, and Robert was a Godsend the entire time. He accidentally on purpose asked me before he asked/told my parents, and he held my hand while I oozed anxiety, afraid they would be disappointed, instead of overjoyed, because I was choosing to marry outside the Mormon faith. He slaved over homemade save-the-date cards planned the Southwestern menu while I tried to keep my head above water during my last year of law school. And then, while I spent the last three months before the wedding trying to learn all the laws for the bar exam, he made and sent out invitations, made or tracked down all the crap that I thought we needed to set up on tables and hang on walls to make the reception look pretty, and made all our honeymoon travel arrangements.
At this point, I don’t remember all the little things that we did, or that Robert did, before we got married, because they don’t matter anymore. I do know that in the last few weeks before the wedding, we spent a lot of time on the music. I chose the ceremony music and he made the playlist for our reception. He also chose the song for our first dance. I knew that if I had any responsibility for that task, I couldn’t stop myself from choosing that Bright Eyes song, First Day of My Life. This would be a mistake for several reasons, the main one being that it would create the false impression that I like Conner Oberst. The other obvious problem is that that song is, well, a painfully obvious wedding song choice. So Robert chose the song and he wanted it to be a surprise.
So we left the chapel to Bob Dylan’s Forever Young, and we walked into the reception hall at the hotel to I Believe In A Thing Called Love, by the Darkness, and then we ate dinner while Robert’s impeccably well-crafted mix played, and then we walked out onto the dance floor for the first dance, and Robert’s best friend who was tasked with keeping an eye on the iPod ran over to the sound system to start the song, and then we were dancing to God Only Knows. What a great choice, right? Not too contemporary, and not overdone.
Except, you probably know what Robert didn’t, namely, that it’s the song that plays during the opening credits of the show Big Love, which is a show about polygamists who are supposed to be fundamentalist Mormons, and that the opening credits show the characters living out the esoteric and oft-ridiculed Mormon doctrine that says people can become like God. You also probably considered what Robert didn’t, namely, that approximately half of our guests were Mormon, but that the other half were not, and a good chunk of that half only half-knew what Mormonism was all about. We found out later that some of our guests, who know that I like to poke fun at my crazy religion, thought that the song was a joke they didn’t quite get. This didn’t really bother me, because I’m used to people thinking my faith is a joke. Robert got a bit defensive about the whole thing though, and maybe rightly so, because he picked the song, after all, and he picked it because we’re one of those couples that’s been married since the day we met. We don’t really buy into that soul-mates nonsense, but neither of us want to know what we’d be without the other.
I worried that it’d be hard on me, marrying somebody who wasn’t Mormon. In some ways, I think it’s actually been harder on Robert, marrying somebody with such a demanding religion and all of its attendant baggage. These days, when we’re in the news almost every day, he is a bigger defender of the religion than I am, and he’s one of the few people who doesn’t ask me endless questions. Also, sometimes I come home from work and catch him listening to our wedding playlist while he’s making dinner, and that’s when I know I made the right choice.