I Am An Artist Who Married Young, And I Feel Like The Only One

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In art school, conversations about the merits of polyamory thrived, but hearing anyone express a genuine desire to get married almost never happened. It was almost taboo. The implication was, how could you want something so traditional? So suburban and unimaginative?

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Yet marrying my high school sweetheart was exactly what I wanted to do. My art and writing were (and remain) my primary creative outlets. I didn’t need to rebel and subvert and question in my love life, too.

I was in love with someone who loved and respected me, and shared similar values. Why complicate our authentic relationship with OKCupid dating binges?

I didn’t want to disrupt something that was nearly perfect, and neither did he.

My now-husband proposed less than two years after we graduated from college. He bought the ring with money he earned from his first “real” job. Our engagement lasted more than a year, as we planned the wedding ourselves.

We also needed time to get our finances in order since we would be footing the bill. That’s not to mention the bills for our honeymoon and our first apartment. We had planned big things together before — including a comics magazine and a documentary film — but planning for our life together was our biggest collaboration yet.

Our wedding took place one May morning, outside of a historic house that overlooks the river running through our college town.

It was simple and intimate and exactly how we wanted to celebrate our formal promise to love and support each other for the rest of our days.

There wasn’t much drama leading up to our wedding because our families approve of one another, but I’m still surprised by how some other artists perceive our choice to get married before 30. (My husband, who is a year and a half younger than me, wasn’t quite 25 on our wedding day.)

When I recently mentioned my husband in passing to a new musician acquaintance, she stopped me to ask, “Wait, you’re married?”

“Yes.”

“How old are you?”

“27.”

“Whoa. That’s so… normal.” She lingered on the word.

I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say her tone was pejorative.

Casual attitudes toward sex permeate the artist circles I know, so there comes a point at every art party when my husband and I recognize it’s time to leave. We don’t have an open relationship. That’s a fact that more than one curator or editor has been disappointed to learn.

We made an adult decision as adults. We’re not playing “House” or “Let’s Pretend.” Our love and commitment is just as real as theirs. Our marriage is not some form of long-term performance art.

Among artist circles, there also tends to be this sense that we’ve limited ourselves by marrying young, that we’re destined to a singular fate of mini-vans and white picket fences.

To that I say: there are many, many ways to be married. You can be just as inventive and full of life as a married artist as you can be as an unmarried artist. My husband and I live in Brooklyn, we continue to write and make art of all kinds, and our social calendar is just as creative as it was before we said, “I do.”

In fact, it’s more dynamic now than it ever was. We attend and participate in literary readings, ‘zine fests, gallery openings, film screenings, press trips, and more. We are never bored. More often than not, we are giddily exhausted.

When we do meet married artists who’ve been married about as long as we have, they’re definitely older than us. Usually, they have a whole decade on us, sometimes more. They often say it’s “cute” or “sweet” that we’re married.

I don’t think they mean to sound condescending, but they do.

We made an adult decision as adults. We’re not playing “House” or “Let’s Pretend.” Our love and commitment is just as real as theirs. Our marriage is not some form of long-term performance art.

Even art patrons will sometimes comment on our age. Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to create an art installation for the Condé Nast Building in Times Square. It was one of the highlights of my young career thus far.

But one patron was floored to hear that I was married and dwelled on this fact for far longer than I wish he had. It only came up because he asked where I had gotten the burlap for the installation and I said that it was left over from my wedding.

That simple comment sparked a whole discussion that had nothing to do with my art.

Artists are some of my favorite kinds of people for many reasons. One is their ability to question the status quo. But just because you are an artist doesn’t mean you always have to reject the status quo. After thinking critically about it, you might realize that, in some respects, the status quo is for you.

Marriage, and marrying comparatively young, happened to be right for me and I am no less an artist for it.

This story by CHRISTINE STODDARD  originally appeared on Ravishly, a feminist news+culture website.

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