Tag Archives: marriage

links.

colonial hot cocoa photo

Just wanted to stop in to let you know about a cool, informal anthropological study/blog on women and marriage called The Marriage Project. According to the blog’s founder:

I want to interrogate the “sacred cow” of marriage, to ask questions that women tell me they are seldom asked about what’s assumed to be an inevitability, a step taken by  people  in love (depending on what state you live in and your gender and sexual identity) are told to take if they are really “serious.”  In short- what’s the difference between what we’re told to believe about marriage and the reality? Ultimately, it’s  a tool for women to connect with one another, and to talk  about how marriage and other choices  impact how we understand the notion of feminism, femininity and what it means to be a woman.

I’ve spent a good chunk of time reading the personal stories on doubt, love, and fulfillment, and even contributed my own story.

If you’re itching for more reading, I encourage you to keep up with NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden’s wherabouts via The Guardian‘s As It Happened feature; learn about the reasons for America’s startlingly high suicide rate; or follow along with Rachel Held Evans as she discusses the complex relationship between sex and the Church.

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at home: heirloom marriage certificate

We carried home a nice assortment of family heirlooms after a visit to Daniel’s grandparents’ house last summer, including the 1913 wedding certificate of Daniel’s great grandparents.

Dated January 15, 1913, it’s the oldest personal historical item we own. I love everything about it: lovers on a calm sea at sunset, the little cherub, floralia galore, and pretty type. I don’t think Daniel met Porter or Emma Wise, so it’s lovely and a bit eerie to have this connection to them. It’s also nice – in our own, still new marriage – to feel connected to a couple who married over 100 years ago.

We keep it on display in the bedroom in a simple frame with gallery quality UV glass to deter additional fading over time.

century old marriage certificate heirloom 1913 art antique marriage certificate bedroom we5Family heirlooms have great nostalgic and historical value, even in an age when the new and innovative compete for our attention.

the storm

tornado dream

I was warming up for police training at a church recreational center on Virginia’s coast. There were nearly 100 of us there, all dressed in gray and navy, doing jumping jacks and anticipating the events of the day.

The sky was overcast through the large, south-facing windows, built high into the wall of the gymnasium. Someone shouted. The wind picked up in a cacophonous symphony of howls and rustling sand. My eyes grew wide in terror: an enormous tornado was headed toward the building. We sat down, some huddled together, myself apart from the group, knowing that following a safety procedure at this point was futile.

The tornado passed the building then, barring our view of the coastline for a few minutes. From the windows in the northern wall, I saw a girl in a red cape running, but it was too late. She was swept up as the winds racked and swayed the tall grass between our building and the church sanctuary. It tore through the sanctuary, demolishing the eastern wall.

I knew that it was bound to head inland, toward Daniel. I texted him:

“I hope you survive. It’s headed your way. Know that I love you very much.”

As I hit send, the howling I’d endured for close to a half hour stopped suddenly, giving way to eerie silence. The stillness was interrupted only by the sound of my heart beating furiously, high on adrenaline.

And then I woke up, convinced my dream had been prophetic, convinced the end was nigh. After several minutes of lying there, overheated and frozen in fear, I woke up Daniel, told him I was afraid, and snuggled into his side, thankful for him, thankful we were both together and alive.

*photo found here

Becoming Wise

wise wedding

Hello, my name is Leah Wise and I have a confession to make:

I’m a feminist who took my husband’s last name.

“How could you?!” my feminist sisters cry. Well, because I wanted to.

Let me acknowledge that I’m right there with you when you say that taking on a husband’s name implies an unequal balance of power between the sexes, that it’s part of an archaic patriarchal system, that it arose within a tradition that passes women as property between father and spouse. I agree; that’s why Daniel didn’t ask my father’s permission to marry me. Independent adults can make their own decisions.

I’ll admit that I really didn’t think about not taking Daniel’s last name until after we were married. It took me 6 months to make all the changes to my legal documents, in part due to laziness and in part due to the fear that everything would be different with a new last name (it wasn’t, but more on that later).

I considered (and consider) myself the academic sort and I didn’t want to confuse my professors with a new last name. But, for the most part, my hesitation wasn’t due to the fact that I felt I had built a name for myself as a supreme scholar using my maiden name; I was afraid more that they’d question me for my age. I was 21 when I got married. That’s young by a lot of people’s standards and I didn’t want their condescending judgment. I hadn’t really considered that the name change itself would produce that response.

Back to the point. I acknowledge that patriarchy is bad for women and that the name change developed within that system. But I changed my name because I wanted to have the same last name as my husband. I don’t want to sound like a cliche, young-and-in-love moron, but I was wooed by the idea of creating a family unit with my husband (not the child-bearing family unit necessarily, just being identifiable as a married pair). I like that people call us The Wises. I discussed the subject with a friend and mentor earlier this week and I liked the way she phrased this point: getting married is choosing your next of kin. You tell the world, by marriage, that you have chosen a life partner who is closer to you than your parents or siblings; you have taken them on as your family. Having a uniform last name symbolically represents this bond.

I changed my name because I had the open space – the freedom – to make that choice for myself. I’m sure I was influenced by custom, but I married a man who believes strongly in fairness, equality, and egalitarianism. We both received departmental awards as undergraduates in the same field and graduated summa cum laude. We’re equals and we know it and we’re proud of it. If he had suggested that I had no say in the name change, I more than likely would have broken it off altogether; that’s straight up male chauvinism.

Additionally (this may come as a surprise to some of you), changing my last name had its perks. For one, I felt like I could become something better than I was as a Wells (I should have mentioned that my new last name is very similar to my old last name). Because changing my last name was my choice, I gained a fresh outlook on my identity (it feels similar to moving to a different town or graduating high school). I also symbolically shed the burdens and ideologies of the family I grew up in. College changed me profoundly from an ideological and religious standpoint and I think the superficial move away from my past helped me admit my new identity to myself and my family. It helped me gain the footing to stand behind my beliefs. The family name I took on doesn’t represent a family that is less broken than my own. It represents the pact I made with my husband to stand beside him for the rest of my life.

There are numerous other arguments that neutralize the name change: when you keep your maiden name, you keep your father’s name, thereby re-affirming patriarchy; future children are easily added to the family without name confusion when you take on a uniform last name; a uniform names provides social legitimacy; etc. I agree with those sentiments, but ultimately it comes down to personal choice.

It strikes me that feminism has always been about choice. To paraphrase my friend again, feminism is about equal pay, respect, civil rights, and self governance – all, at their root, about freedom. While I believe that American women are still beaten down by an unjust patriarchal system, while I know women oftentimes don’t reach high enough or stand up for themselves or gives themselves credit, we cannot lose sight of the original heart of feminism. Don’t shame your sisters in this struggle who think differently or choose differently. The beauty of creating an expansive landscape of choice is that we can journey out in an increasing number of directions and still be within our rights. The last thing we need is to restrain those beaten-down women who came to feminism to find room to grow.

I became a Wise because I wanted to. If I felt strongly that I was encouraging patriarchy by doing so, Daniel and I would have made up a new name or co-hyphenated.

We would have resolved it together because we’re in this together. That’s why they call us Wise.

2 years

Untitled from Lindsey Vinson on Vimeo.

Daniel and I got married just over 2 years ago. I wrote a much lengthier anniversary post over at my old blog, someone’s water lily, but I forgot to share my favorite collection of images! Our wedding photographer, Lindsey Pemberton, made a stop-motion style video using photographs she captured throughout the course of the day. I didn’t know it would come together so beautifully and I never tire of watching it or sharing it.