Ann Romney spoke last night about her marriage to Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. About love.
She tells us that they do not have a "storybook marriage" - they have a real marriage. As she put it "those storybooks never seemed to have chapters called MS or breast cancer."
Mitt and Ann have a working partnership that has seen its ups and downs. They married despite being of different faiths, they have worked through severe medical issues, raised 5 beautiful sons and have weathered the difficult landscapes of both the business and political worlds where divorce, cheating and trading in spouses for younger models is the norm.
They have a marriage to be admired. It is exactly what I want to have, and what I will work hard to have. Derek and I may not have met at a high school dance, but we have a normal, everyday relationship. We both deposit our checks into the same account, I make sure they get paid each month on time - just like my mom did for my dad. Derek does more of the cooking, and I do the clean up on those nights. When he gets home late and tells me he's hungry, I either start cooking or start suggesting a run to McDonald's. When I get home late, he does the same for me.
Ann and Mitt married while in college. Derek is in school right now, adding an extra layer of time commitment to his schedule even as our wedding is around the corner. Mitt has stood by his wife during difficult heath crises (unlike John Edwards.) I have the responsibility to stand by Derek as he underwent gallbladder removal, as he goes to endless doctor visits in an attempt to figure out what else is wrong with his digestive system. No, that's not the same as MS or cancer but if either of those things come up, God forbid, I will be by his side.
I laugh at his jokes, and he laughs at mine (even if they aren't that funny sometimes) He drives whenever we go places 90% of the time because he knows I don't like to drive. I introduce him to new music so he has more than Janet Jackson in his car. When we have free time together we go to the mall or the farmers market or the movies or the club; or we sit at home on a Saturday night watching Bio's seemingly never ending run of ghost shows.
I love this man as much or more than myself. I work hard to make sure our relationship works. I stand by him in his times of need. And I am certain the reverse is true as well.
I don't really know Ann Romney's stance on my relationship. Her husband currently doesn't think I should be able to have the same type she does. She doesn't know me and I don't know her. I would never presume to suggest that her relationship is any less than what she claims - a real marriage.
Why can't I have a real marriage? When I sent out invitations to my wedding, I wanted to invite people to my "illegal wedding" but decided not to be glib. Because, whether it's legal or recognized by any governing entity, I WILL HAVE A REAL MARRIAGE. He will be my husband, not (just) my friend/roommate/buddy.
Because a real marriage is not a piece of paper. That piece of paper is a symbol, the rings are a symbol, the ceremony (like every other sacrament) is a symbol - an outward sign of an inward commitment. When I stand before God and these witnesses and make my vows, I will be married in the sight of God and these witnesses. The fact that I legally cannot call my marriage the thing that it is, does not make it less true. The fact that I know people will refuse to call it a marriage, does not make it less true.
Ann Romney, your marriage is a model I want to emulate. Will you tell your husband, should he become president, to let me do so legally?