By Elizabeth Anne Hull
Nearly a year before Fred died, I wrote to a young friend who had recently become engaged in a same-sex relationship. It was in response to finding out (for the first time; I previously had no idea) that my friend was a lesbian. She told me of the difficulties she and her fiancée expected waiting for the then as-yet unannounced Supreme Court ruling on the unconstitutionality of the California law which had been sanctioned by an expensive referendum (financed in large part by the Mormons, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints).
Before I wrote my response, I discussed the news with Fred, knowing of his interest in same-sex relationships, a situation casually thrown into Gateway which had evoked a continuing fan response that always surprised him.
My message follows:
Congratulations on finding someone to love, and I hope you are able to get married without a big hassle.
However, having to wait may not be such a bad thing, anyway. How long will it take you to finish your education? Most people get married too quickly, without really knowing what they are committing to. It takes time to reveal multiple facts of a personality, and that process usually can’t be hurried. We always want to show our best faces to those we admire and care about, and hide any shameful habits or character flaws.
There are questions that we don’t know we need the answers to right away. Like, for example: what’s your own family life like? How do you get along with siblings, cousins, co-workers, neighbors, etc. What religion (or lack thereof) do you embrace? What is your political philosophy? (Fred and I dated steadily for seven years and traveled together for periods of time, but I didn’t learn till after we were already married that he favors the death penalty, while I definitely do not. It just never came up till later, while we were watching a trial on TV unfolding.)
Do you enjoy vicarious violence — say, like football? What’s your idea of the perfect vacation (do you like to keep going back to one spot or prefer to see some exotic place if possible? Do you like fine food, and/or pretentious dining? Do you like roughing it or camping? Are you adventurous in tying new experiences? Meeting new people?
And people will change over time. Young people can sometimes change faster than older people, but we all do develop. Quirks that were charming at one time can become very annoying later.
So keep in touch, and let me know if and when and where the wedding will happen.
With some apprehension, because he nearly always found something to dislike about my writing, I showed Fred my note. But this time, he just said, “Good letter.” And later, “I notice you never even mentioned the same-sex hurdles. Do you want to write something like this for my blog?”
I wrote it that way because I believe any marriage has its challenges. In fact, just living with anyone can have similar problems.
Long before Fred and I were married, Judy Merril once told me, “Everbody’s crazy in one way or another. We can’t see our own craziness, but we need to look closely at our love object. The most important thing to find out is, in what way is this person crazy? And then to decide whether or not we can, or want to, live with that craziness.”