We are remarkably normal.
We fell in love young—still in our teens. We had a big wedding, attended by almost all of the most important people in our lives. Our dads walked us down the aisle. We both wore white. We live in a house with a little white dog and a vegetable patch. One of us mows the lawn and the other prefers to cook. One of us prefers action movies, while the other could go for a good romantic comedy once in a while. We hope, eventually, to have kids.
Oh yeah, and we're a same-sex couple.
Here's a small collection of those aspects of marriage we especially appreciate, offered as something to consider in your own wedding and marriage.
Marry your best friend. When the going gets rough, we turn to each other for shelter. Our lives have been as full of challenge and tragedy as anybody's. As these moments arise, we have the luxury of turning to each other for support. In life's especially beautiful moments, the luxury of two perspectives adds both depth and richness.
Be your own person. We build our aspirations together, but have no expectation of changing each other. We have been shaping our dreams around each other for our entire adult lives. We each have our strengths, weaknesses, and interests. Bethany will never make Leora into a gourmet cook or a fly-fishing expert. Leora will never get Bethany to carefully weed the garden or dance at weddings and events as much as she does. Still, over time, we have settled into our differences and, rather than getting irritated by them, we try to draw strength from them.
Make your own path. As a same-sex couple, there has not been much of a rubric to follow. Over the years, this lack of rubric has given us the opportunity to select aspects from the tradition of marriage to guide us, while—as often as possible—discarding those that trouble us. Enjoy the fact that there is no "traditional" path you must follow; you have the chance to examine, adopt, and discard.
Ask for and surround yourself with support. At our wedding ceremony, we directly asked our families and communities to support us and provide us with encouragement. There are not many opportunities in life to make such a request. A wedding provides just such an occasion, and the experience is powerful. When we need advice or assistance, we have a long list of people we can turn to who know what our relationship is about and have the shared experience of our wedding. These people provide a bulwark against challenges that may arise and, more often, an opportunity to share memories of the most fun and meaningful days of our lives. In a time when same-sex marriages were not legally recognized—and even now that they are—this community affirmation of support provides us with a feeling of recognition that remains incredibly powerful.
Despite our white-picket-fence tendencies, life remains full of the inevitable ups and downs. However, three years into our marriage and 11 years into our relationship, we have settled into a rhythm that lends shape, stability, and zest to our journeys. As you embark on your own marriage, we wish you all the joy and support that we have been so lucky to experience.
Leora Coleman-Fire is a labor and employment attorney at Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt. Bethany Coleman-Fire is a bankruptcy and commercial litigation attorney at Davis Wright Tremaine. While they may have succumbed to hour-long lines for brunch each weekend, they have not yet fallen under the spell of skinny jeans.