If there is a deity, s/he has a sense of humor, irony, and poetry. My brain nearly exploded yesterday, first because of the Iowa decision on gay marriage (I find myself cautiously optimistic), then because my buttons got pushed (you can read my post about that, if you want to).
Late last night, after my ruffled feathers had regained their assigned position and sheen, my son, the Giant, reminded me of Saturday's social obligation - attending the renewal of vows for some friends of ours who enjoy the right (and rite) of marriage. Had it been any other couple, I probably would have bowed out from sheer fatigue. But these folks have shown nothing but love for our son, and for our family in general, and it was only right to be there as witness to their happiness.
The renewal of their vows was a beautiful ceremony (blessings upon WF & J, as well as their blended family) held at their home on a beautiful spring day. It reminded me of the vows my wife and I wrote nearly 10 years ago for the ceremony we held with friends and a few family members at our home. It reminded me of why I call "the Raven" my wife.
You've heard the song from "Fiddler on the Roof" - "Do You Love Me?" I love her like that, and she loves me the same way - all those stupid everyday things that we do for each other, they add up to something very large. But on top of that, I am tantalized and fascinated by her. She makes me want to be a better Owl - and she reminds me that I am. We have passed through at least 4 or 5 of the rings of hell. We have hurt each other along the way, and done thoughtless things, and screwed up in all the ways that people do. We still love each other because we have learned to communicate honestly, to balance patiently, and to forgive the humanity that is all too obvious when you live together. Not easy work, but worth it.
It could not have been done without both of us. Our vows included honesty and compassion. Honoring our paths as individuals and as a family. To have and to hold, in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer. And, to the best of our ability, we have not broken any of them; better put, we have examined history, and agreed that niether of us has ever intentionally broken any of them. See the part above, on forgiveness.
Our son, the ring-bearer, was carried in her womb, nearly two years before the Raven and I first kissed, and nearly five years before our wedding. I took vows to him as well, in front of God and everyone. I told him that I would always do my best to tell him the truth, to make sure he had what he needed, and to make sure he knew how amazing he was. I asked if that was okay with him - he hugged me tight and said that it was. I took that as "I do."
We have built a life together, the three of us. It is not fancy. It is not stylish or cool or trendy. It is no where near the L-Word in terms of climate, opulence, or drama. But it is a good life, full of little miracles, moments of beauty, and liberal portions of love and respect.
I call her my wife, because "spouse" or "partner" doesn't do any justice to our relationship, or to our family. "Significant other," while useful, doesn't have the gravitas I need. And "lover" can't begin to cover who she is to me.
I call her my wife because I married her, and she married me, even though the technical term may eventually be "civil union." (A term which itself feels too much like using someone's given name, rather than the familiar form.) When we spoke our vows, we placed our lives and spirits, in each other's care - we hold that sacred, even without a state sanction (a little like "Braveheart," but without the kilts or priest. Hopefully without the brutal rape and killing stuff also).I call her my wife because it's a term that you recognize, no matter who you are, and especially if you are disinclined to allow the state to call her anything in relation to me. I want you to know that her role in my life and my family is at least equal to whatever that term means to you (and quite possibly superior to your definition). I want you to know that if either of us dies, the other will be a widow, and my son will have lost a parent - nothing less.
You see, I call her my wife, even though I have no legal sanction to do so, as a tiny, subtle protest. But most of all I call her my wife because she is.