Relationships are tricky. I have yet to find one that reminds me of a Disney movie where the partners are in love, happily ever after and forest animals do their laundry. They’re messy. The right one comes with baggage from previous partners, family and professionally. It can alter your dreams and change them in a way that you never saw coming.
When I was 15, I told everyone and anyone that would listen that I would never get married, have children or a house that would require yard work on my part. As I grew older, I realized that perhaps my 8 year old version knew more of life and love than I gave her credit. At that age, I planned on being married, having 3 kids and being a writer. Surrounded by the love of my imaginary children and husband, I felt content, creative and full of life.
I always pictured my Dad walking me down an aisle made of sand and seashells and placing my hand into a man whose face I couldn’t quite imagine at that point. I knew that he would love dogs, want kids, creative in his own right and value family.
That never happened. I found the man, he’s everything I thought he would be, and at times more. Our relationship is a work in a progress, but because I saw what work in a relationship is, I know we can make it. I just don’t know what that looks like right now.
Marriage is a right that so many people have fought for and I don’t know if I want to do it anymore. What does a piece of paper mean if you’re not willing to do the work? Will it keep me from leaving? No, the loyalty that my mom taught me will do that. Will it keep me from giving up? No, Dad’s determination is firmly ingrained in my personality.
So is his last name. My connection to the past, to the happy memories of days gone is something I see everyday I get the mail. I’m reminded of the beauty of those before me, like my grandparents and father. I’m reminded of my incredibly strong mother for making the choice to change her name and bear my brother and I. It’s a strength that I’m not sure I have or even want anymore.
At the end of the day, I’m already in a Disney relationship. It may not end with happily ever after but it’s beautiful nonetheless. I have a partner that values stability, humor, family, our furry and non furry children and my dreams. It turns out that both my 8 and 15 year old selves were right: the title doesn’t matter, it’s the person willing to meet you in the middle and do the work.