Discussion Post: Let’s Obsess Over the Little Things Trailer and Talk About What Marriage Means to Us

Oh boy, a discussion post! No wrong answer, just a forum to share things about each other and learn different ways of thinking. Oh, and also to obsess over Little Things if you are a Little Things person.

Little Things trailer! Feels like it opens by just rejecting the idea of conflict or drama or tension in the relationship, and then lets us think about relationships and life in unusual ways, and that is the only meaning.

In the spirit of a show that makes us think about relationships and stuff, let’s have a general discussion about what marriage means or does not mean to us? Totally personally?

I’ll start with me. My parents where the 3rd generation of couples on my mother’s side to elope. On my father’s side, his parents didn’t elope, but they got married in a wedding thrown together with 4 days notice just before my grandfather shipped out. His grandparents got married so quietly we don’t have any photos or anything, it seems to just have been a ceremony in a living room.

With this background, I was raised thinking of marriage as a thing you do when you really really need to do it. In order for your girlfriend to get your war benefits if you are killed. Or because you are living together but realize the hospitals and courts and no one else will respect that tie. Or just because you want to leave town and start a new life together and you can’t travel unmarried.

Later, I came to see marriage with a meaning behind pure legal necessity. It is a way of standing up in front of society and putting a generally recognized permanent label on your relationship. I was raised in the only church in America that would perform religiously sanctioned same sex weddings. I went to my first same sex wedding when I was ten. And no, it wasn’t legal. It had no legal meaning at all. The couple could just as well have skipped the ceremony and instead filed a series of complicated legal papers to provide each other with a legal tie. But there is something different between saying “this is my partner” and “this is my wife/husband”. It demands that you recognize a role, that you treat this relationship the same as you would treat any other marital relationship.

The Rev. Dr. Jonipher Kupono Kwong (left) and Chris Nelson (right) were the first gay couple wed in Hawaii
This is cute, the first same sex couple to be legally married in Hawaii was actually a Unitarian minister and his husband.

I just bought a house with two friends who are married. One of the couple isn’t on the title to the house or the mortgage or anything else. But turns out, that doesn’t matter! Marriage, legally nationally recognize marriage, is a legal miracle. We don’t have to do anything special anywhere, just mindlessly file our paperwork, and the marriage trumps all of it. If they were just living together, as they had been for the past few years, we would have had to spend thousands on a lawyer to make this tight and protected, and now it’s just a free legal magic wand. Marriage is a very important legal thing! And on the other hand, the difference between telling my family “I am buying a house with my friend and her wife” and saying “I am buying a house with my friend and her girlfriend” is also enormous. They are stable, they are settled, they are a forever couple.

Bringing this back to Little Things for a second, I’m not sure I want Dhruv and Kavya to get married based on those definitions? Legally, ABSOLUTELY! Don’t be afraid of marriage just because of social conditioning. I don’t want Dhruv’s horrible parents to be his next of kin, I don’t want Kavya’s money to potentially be claimed by anyone around her who doesn’t actually care about her. And I want them to be able to buy an apartment together, build a life, whatever.

But socially? Saying “this is my wife” and “this is my husband” in India immediately opens you up to social judgement, to pressure, to all kinds of things. Are the legal advantages worth it? If they truly don’t want anything beyond what they already have?

I suppose this is a question a lot of couples have to deal with. Marriage pro: legal magic wand. Marriage con: opens you up to inescapable social pressure.

The one thing I absolutely reject is the idea that marriage has to be a certain way. Sure, there will be pressure, but you can resist it. Marriage can be anything you want. You can decide not to get married because you want to avoid the pressure, that I can respect. But to not get married because it will “kill the spark” or something? Nah, I reject that.

Okay, what are your thoughts? Why would a couple who love each other, who are living together, who are accepted as a couple by all their friends and family, who have now major health or economic issues, and who do not want children get married?

12 thoughts on “Discussion Post: Let’s Obsess Over the Little Things Trailer and Talk About What Marriage Means to Us

    • A Harsh Path of Thorns!!!! I agree, New York is no good. The newlyweds should move to Chicago. Get a nice house in Peterson Park, go to the Japanese American Social Club events, be happy.

      On Fri, Oct 1, 2021 at 10:46 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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        • ME TOO!!!! And if I am reading the article right, they fell in love 4 years ago but he had issues with the girl his parents had arranged for him to marry already. It’s just so INDIAN.

          On Fri, Oct 1, 2021 at 8:04 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • No, the issue is the fight his mom is having with her former fiancé (the article says “his” fiancée, but that’s wrong). It’s pretty minor and dumb, and I’ve been hearing SO MUCH about it for four years. At any rate, they seem like really nice people, and I hope they’re ecstatically happy.

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          • wait, HIS mom is fighting with HER former fiance??? Why does his mom care?

            On Sat, Oct 2, 2021 at 5:53 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • Sorry, this is very hard to word clearly. His mom has an issue with her own former fiancé. He (the mom’s fiancé) gave or lent, depending on who’s telling the story, a big wad of money for her son’s (Princess Mako’s fiancé) education. Then they (mom and mom’s fiancé) broke up and he wanted it back, and it went to court. It has nothing to do with the couple, it’s just unseemly for a family member of a soon to be ex-princess to squabble so publicly about money.

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          • Ugh, I think it is unseemly for a family member of anyone to squabble so publicly about money. YUCH!!!! I wouldn’t want my kid to marry into that family either.

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  1. Before my wedding I read Marriage, a History by Stephanie Coontz, which is a great guide to the history of marriage in the west. It goes through the various phases and motivations for people to get married from ancient times through the modern age. There was the family alliance and access to a larger kin network. The sharing of resources. Sexual exclusivity (framed as a limitation now but also helped free people from being pursued and reduced romance-related fights, injuries, deaths). Social networks. Sharing of household and economic labor. Raising children. And eventually, more recently, love. Now we make it all about love, but truly it is about all that other stuff too. The families do end up entangled, the friends too. You do need to share some household drudgery, while pairing up and pooling money gives you better access to a house to begin with. And raising kids is a lot, easier to manage if both parents are in it together. Marriage is a way of publicly committing to each other, in front of your family and community.

    My husband is an ex Catholic atheist who didn’t care about making it official, and I’m a kid of divorce, we didn’t go into it as a sacred institution. But I think that commitment does matter, to the people inside the marriage as much as to the people outside of it. For Kavya and Dhruv, I would see it more as the commitment between the two of them so they can stop spending energy wondering what they are to one another. The social pressure is probably bearable, – though if she really doesn’t want kids I could see that being an issue because once they were married the elders would never stop bugging them.

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    • Ooo, I hadn’t thought about that commitment part. I’ve heard the concept of not being married means you are “choosing” to be together blah blah blah. But that always sounded really stressful to me. With Kavya and Dhruv, they have been getting more and more relaxed with each other in each season, more strong in their bond. Maybe what they will do is just a private “we are forever together” ceremony? No family pressure, no legal mess, but something just between the two of them that says “we can stop worrying about this, we are together and together”.

      On Fri, Oct 1, 2021 at 10:37 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  2. I think the powerful thing about marriage is that you’re *choosing* that *commitment*.

    For me, the institution turns a couple into family. You can still have a falling out later, but even a divorce can’t really change the fact that there will always remain some kind of connection. And I feel like it still means something to the couple’s original families, too. You can’t force them to like the partner, but marriage means that they kind of have to at least acknowledge them.

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    • There was a couple in my family who had been together for decades but never married (I think it was a Catholic thing, because he was divorced or something?). Anyway, there was a while when the partner just stopped coming to family events and I was wondering if they had broken up or not. Without being married, that could have happened. Even a very private person has to announce “I am getting divorced”. But if you are living together for 2 decades, it is still barely acceptable to just say nothing when the relationship breaks up.

      So sort of the opposite of what you are saying. When you get married, you yourself have toa cknowledge what is happening int he relationship and not just keep it quiet because you are private and leave everyone around you wondering.

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