Before my ex-husband and I got engaged, we dated for about five months. Then we were engaged for about the same amount of time before we were married. Then we were married for a year and a half before we separated. Then four months later, we were officially divorced.
I don't count the four months of separation as part of the time we were together. After all, as is implied, we were separated. I was with him for two years and four months, give or take a few days.
Next month, my girlfriend and I will celebrate our three year anniversary. This means that we've been together longer than I was with my ex-husband.
This is by far the most meaningful relationship I've ever been a part of. I didn't date much in high school, having been a "good girl" and waited until I was sixteen to even have my first kiss. I can count on one hand the number of guys I dated. One, two, three, four...and the fourth one I married. My girlfriend and I have more care and concern for each other than was ever present in my other relationships. We laugh more. We have more in common. We also have more that is opposite, which in our relationship means that we complement each other better. We can sit with each other in complete silence and be absolutely happy, just because we're with each other.
She's absolutely amazing. She's my Mary Poppins, practically perfect in every way. I can't imagine life without her. But it isn't enough.
Not enough for lawmakers. Not enough for religious leaders. Not enough for conservative Christians. Not enough for my family.
I sometimes wish I could be a fly on the wall and watch what goes on in the relationships that my family has (g-rated, of course). I wonder how much we have in common, when it comes to interaction and emotion with the people we love most.
I bet it's more than they think it is...or more than they would admit.
And I get it. I don't like it, but I get it. To have to admit that my relationship with my girlfriend is just as important to me as my sister's relationship with her husband is to her would be incredibly difficult for my sister (either one). Because then we're equal. The way I love is just as important as the way she loves. And that's not how it's "supposed" to be. That's not what we were taught. That's not what we continue to be taught.
My sister says she wants to spend time with me, can I please come alone and not bring my girlfriend? But when I get there, I'm with her...and her husband and her children. Apparently, that's not infringing on our time together. What's the difference? Why is my girlfriend less family than my brother-in-law, nieces, nephews...?
One day at a time, I know. Patience is a virtue, I know. Good things come to those who wait, I know I know I know. And to say it hasn't gotten any better would be a complete and total lie. It has.
So here we are, three years later. The fight for equality will surely be a political point in this election year. And we'll continue to fight on whatever front presents itself, whether that be in D.C., or in state legislation, or upon the doorsteps of family gatherings.
I am equal. My relationship is important. My girlfriend is practically perfect in every way. And we have to fight for our love to be recognized. But it's worth it. Because I love her.