Photo by Tony Richards
In 2009, my husband and I stood in front of a judge, friends and family to declare our union. (A “union” with a nod towards the efforts to legalize gay marriage, as New York State has finally done.) Two years later we are celebrating on Martha’s Vineyard with a short vacation before I start a writing residency.
There are debates in writing circles about who makes the best partner for a writer. Some vote for another writer and others will vote for the opposite (Who would that be? A banker?) in order to eliminate any competition. There are famous writer couples, like Donald Hall and Jane Kenyon, and other writers who keep their love lives private. For me, it was a thrill to find a partner who supports my writing, offers honest feedback, and understands my dedication to a lifelong project because he, too, has his own as a political scientist.
When I first mentioned applying to this, and other, residencies, my husband smiled and encouraged me to submit the strongest application possible. He said to stay away as long as I felt was necessary. Instead of fearing that I was abandoning him, he said how much he’d miss me while being proud of me. He also suggested a great holiday before I started.
I support him and his academic work in the same way. We both travel for conferences and are committed to a job that extends far beyond a regular 9-5 week. I am inspired to work even harder on my creative projects by watching his dedication to his work.
Marriage was once a very traditional partnership. There were duties to be fulfilled by each gender. I am thankful to live in a culture and era when that is no longer required. I am thankful to be married to a person who has helped me to see how expansive our roles can be, no matter how much I might like to cook and do some traditional "female" activities.
I’ve tried to write essays and poems about what it feels like to marry and be immersed in such a partnership. Everything I write fails to convey the deep love, devotion and intimacy we have on so many levels. That is, even when we are apart in order to dedicate ourselves to our work. Perhaps it is even more important in those moments.