How to Unmarry Your Wife

Sarah Viren in The Morning News:

How-to-unmarry-your-wifeIt was sweltering the day I unmarried Marta, and we weren’t even together. I was with my little brother in a Penske truck, the flat haze of West Texas rising before us like the credits at the end of a movie. Marta was with our three-month-old daughter back in Iowa, where the weather was temperate. Highs were in the 70s, lows in the 50s, and Marta was still married to me. Don McLean was coming in concert that weekend and there were drink specials at our favorite vegan restaurant. Our three-month-old baby cried for milk and slept and cried some more. A couple of days later, the two of them flew out to West Texas to join me in our new home next to a university where Marta and I both had jobs, and where we were no longer married to each other.

It’s hard to define when the act of unmarrying takes place. Were we unmarried as soon as I drove out of Iowa in that Penske van and into Missouri, where same-sex marriage is not recognized? Or was it only official once Marta joined me in Texas, where marriages like ours are outright banned? Or perhaps the real unmarrying occurred when we changed our mailing address with the post office, which would mean we were unmarried for a week without even realizing it. Getting unmarried to someone is also quite different from divorcing them. There are no legal documents to sign. There are no lawyers or judges explaining the terms to you. There is just you and your once-wife and your still-legal baby in a one-story orange brick house under the beaming sun of a West Texas neighborhood where you feel the same as you did before. Almost the same—you are both aware a difference exists, and you can also feel that something small but significant has changed.

More here.