This fall, we’re pushing the conversation beyond “feminist wedding” and talking about feminist marriages. We asked some of our past clients to share their insights this: What do feminist marriages look like? How do they work? Do things even really change after your wedding?
First up are Lili and Alexis, who were married three years ago today at Bluemont Vineyard. I still remember first meeting them and noticing how strong their partnership was, and how unflinchingly positive Lili was balanced perfectly by thoughtful, easy-to-laugh Alexis. They have some great thoughts on their wedding planning process, intentionality (then and now), and self-reflection.
Looking back, what was/were the most important element(s) of your wedding?
Alexis: Honestly, it was hiring the “right” people that set the tone. Between our wedding coordinator, photographer (nudge nudge!) and our DJ, I felt like we assembled a crew who really embodied the spirit we wanted to have in our wedding – relaxed and authentic.
Lili: We didn’t want a “traditional” wedding – we wanted to have an awesome party where our family and friends could have a great time. It might sound silly, but I’m obsessed with dessert, so having an awesome and unique dessert array was important to me! (We didn’t have a traditional wedding cake – we served warm pie and ice cream, and Smith Island Cake, Maryland’s official dessert! It was AWESOME!) Decide as a couple what the important things are, and do it!
In what ways, if any, did your relationship change after your wedding?
Alexis: After we got married, there was this wonderful feeling of “that’s my person.” Not having to question if your partner would be there by your side in all of life’s future chapters. We were engaged for almost two years, and bought a house before we got married, so we had countless conversations about what marriage meant to us and what the components of a lifelong, healthy relationship would look like – it helped us to be fully intentional when we made that commitment to each other.
Lili: I just feel like I love Alexis more with each passing month and year. I know that sounds super corny, but when you have your “person” to go through life with, the highs seem even higher and the lows don’t seem quite so low. Marriage definitely isn’t all sunshine and roses, but I’ve never doubted for a second that Alexis is the most awesome person I could ever wish for to wade through those murky waters with!
How do your feminist beliefs/politics play out in your relationship?
We joke sometimes about the power dynamics (“male” and “female”) in our relationship. Certainly there are roles that I more naturally fit into and roles that she more naturally fits into, but we don’t ascribe those characteristics to gender, because there is no “male” in the relationship! We ascribe them to one of us having a particular strength and owning that role (For example, one of just so happens to be super handy with a chainsaw, and the other has a true gift for loading the dishwasher perfectly!) Above all else, we always try to give the other person what they need in that moment, and be our truest selves.
What are the tools in your relationship toolkit that help you when times are tough?
Alexis: I try to remember that there will be many moments in our lives when things will be out of balance and one spouse may need more support than the other. The scale is always tipping one way or another – through work or education or family.
Lili: For me, I think self-reflection is a critically important tool for life, especially in the context of a relationship. If I am going through a stressful time, I have the tendency to direct my anxiety and stress to the person closest to me – that’s almost always my wife, and that’s not fair to her at all. In those moments, it’s so important for me to look inside myself and recognize that she’s on my team. On a lighter note, laughter is so important in our relationship, and I think it really helps in challenging times!
How do you intentionally grow alongside your partner over the years?
I think it’s so important to constantly assess three things:
1. Am I growing as an independent person?
2. Am I helping my partner grow as an independent person?
3. Are we making sure that while we’re supporting each other in #1 and #2, we’re also growing together?
So many couples struggle with #3. Our lives get so stressful and busy, we forget to nurture the person that’s always along for the ride with us. Make sure to take time to keep building your story – by learning new things or doing new activities that continue to strengthen and grow your relationship. For us, making sure we’ve covered all three bases (and always checking in about it) is so important to an ever-changing partnership over the years.
What are your top three ingredients for a successful feminist marriage/partnership?
If you could give fellow feminists who are planning a wedding some advice, what would it be?
Make your own rules based on what is important to the both of you. Forget about what a “traditional” wedding should look or feel like. Do what feels right – it’s nobody’s day but yours!
If you could give fellow feminists who are planning a marriage some advice, what would it be?
Honestly, same as above – make your own rules. It’s so easy to let society tell you what you should be doing, and that even applies to same-sex relationships and their dynamics. Remember that you are a team – play off each other’s strengths and communicate constantly to make sure your game plans are aligned!