I’m From New York, NY.

by roselle i.

NOTE: This story was originally published on July 23, 2010, but is relevant to the Thanksgiving holidays so I wanted to share it again. It has a nice message, too: Stick to your guns this holiday season.

Roselle, here, a straight 25 year-old woman who’s engaged to the greatest man I’ve ever dated. We’re madly in love, we’re engaged, and we’ve chosen NOT to get legally married. Yes, we are one straight woman and one straight man choosing to commit our lives to each other by NOT getting married. Makes perfect sense to me. Seriously, look at our world today. Marriage does not equal commitment, fidelity or partnership. If the world were really concerned about the “sanctity of marriage” they’d make divorce illegal and punishable by law—just like the way they had it back a long, long, long time ago.

Unfortunately, both my fiance and I are entrepreneurs and are living with his parents to save up money. My fiance’s religious Christian mother’s only rule was that since we weren’t married, we’d have to sleep in separate bedrooms. This was when we were already together two years and I had moved to a different state to be with him. And if that wasn’t enough, she KNEW we were no longer virgins and she knew that when we were elsewhere we’d have sex. So it wasn’t like she was pretending we were virgins, but that she wanted to control the sex in her house–it didn’t matter that we were both grown adults (her son being 30 then). To her, if we weren’t LEGALLY married, we “weren’t a family.” Mind you, her other son (my fiance’s brother) is gay.

Anyhow, she was starting to come around when we told her we had made the commitment to be together for the loooong haul. She didn’t necessarily gave us permission to sleep in the same bedroom, but relented after much arguing at family meetings.

It wasn’t until Thanksgiving last year that the sh*t really hit the fan. My fiance’s sister, now married with 2 kids of her own, is also a really religious Christian. I think even more so than her mom. A few days before Thanksgiving last year, my fiance and I received a letter from the sister–accompanied with bible verses to let my fiance and me know that she, her husband and her 2 kids would not be attending out commitment ceremony because she didn’t agree with “what we were doing” and that she “wasn’t going to allow her kids to call me ‘aunt’ or ‘auntie’.” The letter went on and on about God this and God that and how we weren’t acting the way people in love would really act. We were in f’cking disbelief. Even from being a woman who’s not white, I never experienced such “nice” hurtful ostracism.

So during Thanksgiving, she (the sister) had found out my fiance (her brother) and I were indeed now sleeping in the same bedroom. And she flipped the F out. She insisted that we sleep in separate bedrooms for the sake of her and her kids–and that if we didn’t acquiesce, she, her husband, and her kids would leave the Thanksgiving festivities. My fiance’s mother was in complete agreement now. A few weeks ago, she was starting to come around, even letting us sleep in the same bedroom, but now during this colossal fight, she was right next to her daughter fighting with me and my fiance in their garage at 10pm at night. Screaming, tears, the whole shebang.

I think that’s probably one Thanksgiving memory that will be hard to forget.

So WE left.

8 Comments:

  1. I'm from St. Catharines, ON

    Hi Roselle! Thanks for sharing your story. I feel for you and your fiance. I also feel for your family. There has too much hurt caused by all of us taking the stance that we are right and everyone else is wrong. Values by which societies around the world used to govern their conduct have been tossed out the window for individualism. Unfortunately, you are right that marriage no longer means what it used to but neither does just about any other institution, standard or value – e.g. family, church, justice, rights, freedoms, etc. Not to be all doom and gloom but the reality is that there are no values, truths or standards we can all agree to because unless it’s right for “me” it’s not right. With this attitude there are virtually no consequences that can be agreed upon for actions for fear of being found guilty of stepping on someone’s rights and freedoms. Until society can agree on what is acceptable and not acceptable, situations like yours will be the norm. God help us all.

  2. I love your article … the first paragraph is amazing and SO true!

  3. Unfortunately, society will NEVER agree on anything because everyone wants it their way. The only thing you can do is be true to yourself.

  4. Eric Deane Gordon

    Roselle, first off, I want to say that I really enjoyed your story. It’s the first one I’ve read on IFD, but It really struck a cord. Your situation is unfortunate — that you’re fiance’s family will not recognize the committment that you and he share and the decision you’ve made not to get married must be very hurtful to you both. His family doesn’t realize it most likely, but their reaction is tantamount to a flat out rejection of the earnest love you obviously share for one another. Ironically, in choosing not to marry under traditional circumstances, you’ve most likely forged a stronger bond and foundation for your committment to each other, essentially forteiting the literal soicial and physical trappings of thaat legal institution in order to form a better union from it’s inception. What they fail to see seems to be you and your fiance’s understanding and experience of modern marriage as something much akin to the royal family of England as it relates to the function of the administration of British government. The Queen has a potent voice, yes, but is rather only a figure head or symbol of the parlamentary process — she is an object to be looked at and revered, but is functionally impotent and outdated. Your decision to not marry, however, will be viewed partly as a social and intellectual protest no doubt, in which case you have to understand that the world, his family included, will also perhaps view it as an afront to their basic social values and beliefs. As an intellectual and a conscious thinker I understand and applaud what you and your fiance have decided to do. Much to the contrary of what his family seems to think it symbolizes, it is, in fact, a strong and bold statement as much as it is a testament to how much you do love one another and deeply want your union to have true and substantive meaning — more than any guest list, or gift registry, or Vera Wang gown, or any certificate could impart to it. My advice to you both is to be reasonably outraged by what your family has done to you. By all means, get it off your chest!!! It most certianly isn’t right; however, by the same token, I would also advice you to be kind, forgiving, and patient. I read the other comments to your story and whille it’s not my intention to criticize the commentary of others, I have to admit that I don’t think its just that we all want what we want and what works for us, individually. Much to the contrary, I believe that many of us really want a bit more peace, cooperation, and understanding in this world and in our own individual lives. We need to cooperate compromise, particularly when it comes to those we love. You and your fiance should lead by example and prove his mother and sister wrong — but not by feuding, giving their seemingly non-sensical and puritanical actions more credence. They’re being obtuse and stubborn, indeed, but, perhaps, it’s because they feel threatened and insecure in viewing their own lives through the lense of your decisions. It could be a scary thing. I’m not saying it’s a healthy reaction, but it ‘s obviously a very real and valid one from their viewpoint. Step away, but be present and gentle. If you stick it out with them, they just might come around and I would conjecture that in the end that’s what you and you r not-so-husband want. You can’t fight fire with fire; you have to quench it with abundant water. You and your fiance be the water — be easy, exhibit grace, and the family will eventually come around. Much luck to you darling and congratulations on the union!

  5. Bill in Oakland

    Hmm, I certainly understand your frustration and hurt that their views would be more important than family and that really says something about their “christian” attitudes, but bottom line, her house, her rules. She was doing the two of you a favor by letting you live with her. You knew how she felt when you moved in and she was upfront about it. As for the sister, obviously she missed the part in the Bible about not judging unless you want to be judged. Life is much too short to put up with people like that. Walk away, put them behind you and get on with your lives. At some point, you can perhaps have a conversation with the kids and let them know that the issue has nothing to do with them and that they would be welcome in your lives, if they so choose.

  6. Thank you for your kind words everyone!

    I just wanted to update & clarify:
    There is much to say about the, “her house her rules” and “doing us a favor” statement…

    I wanna say that I respect and love my fiance’s parent very much. I’ve lived with them for over 2 years now and we have had moments of tenderness where they have showed and said that they love me and that they love that their son is with me.

    When I started living in their home, I did think the rule of separate bedrooms was stupid. Nonetheless, I did abide by the rules. My fiance and I were already together for 2 years, I had moved to a different state to be with him, and now I was being separated from him in the same house. It was frustrating. But because of my love and respect for his parents, I DID IT FOR OVER A YEAR.

    We only contested when we announced to them that we were planning on having a commitment ceremony to celebrate our life-long commitment to each other—and she still insisted that we sleep in separate bedrooms.

  7. I don’t think there’s really any way to justify what the fiance’s mother and especially sister did. Sure, you can always say the mother had the right to impose whatever rules she wants in her house, but that doesn’t mean those rules can’t be morally wrong — and given her motivations, I think that’s clearly the case.

    As for the sister, someone needs to point out to her that insisting Roselle and her fiance sleep in separate bedrooms had nothing to do with her kids or their welfare. That was a demand the sister selfishly made for her own sake, and then used the kids to justify it. I find behavior like that from adults completely abhorrent.

    An unmarried couple sleeping in the same bedroom will not harm her kids, but her childish and reprehensible behavior will. If she’s really worried about the kids and is wondering what to fix in her life for their sake, I’d start with that.

  8. Sorry Roselle, in my indignation I forgot to thank you for this story.

    When there’s a very important right that’s granted to you but not your friends, even if you’re totally supportive I know it’s very, very difficult to turn it down. I’ve had friends tell me they feel guilty getting married when they know I can’t, like they’re being selfish. I always tell them that I don’t hold it against them in the slightest bit — they should enjoy their rights!

    I’m touched that you would actually not get married in part to make a statement of equality, just as I’m touched when my friends express guilt over their ability to get married.

    So thanks not just for writing this, but for being such a strong ally. We need as many of you as we can get.

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