When I met my husband, I was 21. He was 19. We were in college, with the four combined graduate degrees we would eventually earn just a glimmer in our eyes. Neither of us was ready to move in together, let alone get married.
We did not move in together when I was ready. Besides being male, he is two years younger than I am, and he took his time. But not as much time as he took getting ready to actually marry me. By the time we married, we had been together almost seven years.
Maybe he wanted to be sure.
The point here is that, when we were ready, we started planning a wedding. We met with the rabbi, we chose flowers, I shopped for a dress, he registered for gifts, and we did premarital counseling. A few weeks before the wedding, we went to the court building and got a license. After the ceremony, we mailed it in with the rabbi’s signature to the proper authorities.
The morning after we married, before we left for our honeymoon, we went to the bank to get a joint account. When we returned from the honeymoon, I changed my name. (I figured if I was going to have some man’s name, it might as well be a man I like, rather than my father.) It took some phone calls, a trip to the DMV, and one surprisingly easy morning at the Social Security administration.
It was all legal. When we were ready to legally merge our lives, the government made it super-easy for us to do so.
There is another story. The story of a woman who waited 87 years to marry her sweetheart. It’s not that they weren’t ready. They were. They tried several years ago to get married, but apparently the government was somewhat less supportive of their union than they were of mine with my husband.
Other people, all around the country, were of the opinion that this marriage was a bad idea. And, for some inexplicable reason, they got a say in the matter. People who had never met them got to determine that they had no right to be married.
I had to wait for one man to be ready. Del Martin had to wait for an entire state. She died yesterday, leaving behind, at long-last, a spouse. And a legacy of working to make sure other people would find it a little easier to get married.