Today, I have been married for six years.
This surprises people. We married young by today’s standards—I was only 23, and he, 24.
Since then we’ve switched jobs multiple times, lost our first German shepherd to kidney disease, adopted another shepherd, bought a house, gone on many, many hikes, gotten into our fair share of disagreements and fights, and spent almost every night cuddled together in bed.
Our partnership confuses people. It started with the “wedding,” which was really a Wiccan handfasting. We held it in my favorite park, and stood in the center of a circle of our closest friends and family while we said our vows and our designated priestess and priest tied our hands together with ribbon and we jumped over a broomstick (traditionally meant to bring fertility, but we modern Witches interpret “fertility” in a number of ways, not just the “get preggo and have lots of children” way).
We wrote our own ceremony, based on a version of the handfasting ritual in Janet and Stewart Farrar’s Witches Bible, and we used a self-uniting marriage license to make our partnership official in the government’s eyes.
My partner is not Wiccan, or even Pagan, but he recognizes the power of ritual, and that ritual is important to me. We didn’t want a big, fancy wedding with an expensive reception and top 100 pop hits. We didn’t want some person with power vested in him or her by some church or some state. We wanted something that had meaning to us. Something that expressed in action and words the commitment we had already made to each other, and the responsibility we accepted for each other, our furry “children,” and our partnership.
We discussed hyphenating our last names, but ultimately decided we would leave our names intact, the way they’d always been. Of course, people assume that Thomas is my married name if they meet me first, and that my husband’s last name is my last name if they meet him first. We get mail addressed to us in all manner of last name combinations.
But what people call us and what people think of us doesn’t matter so much. It doesn’t change who we are or how we work together. The thing that matters is that we have found, in each other, true partners. We split the housework, each of us doing more or less depending on how the other feels. We work together to solve problems and come up with solutions. We reassure each other when fears and doubts surface. We love each other.
We chose Midsummer, the Summer Solstice, as the day of our handfasting because it is the longest day of the year. The sun shines at his brightest and strongest, and we hope for and work for a long, vibrant life together.
Six is a lucky number. It’s a strong, powerful number. And our sixth year together was wonderful and magical in its own way, even though we faced challenges and hardships—that’s life, right?
As we begin our seventh year as life partners, I am thankful for what we have had and what is still to come. Whatever happens, we will meet it head on, the way we always do: as partners.