Life as an Extreme Sport

It’s Not About Losing

I have always been a very strong willed, independant woman. ‘Stubborn’ also comes to mind.

Those of you that know me are probably slightly puzzled by this statement, but just can’t figure out why. I’ll tell you why – it’s because I have identified myself as a woman.

When referencing myself, I rarely use a gender specific term. I am always a person before my gender. However, in this particular case, with this particular line of thought, woman is the appropriate label.

You see, I was thinking about marriage. About the custom of two people joining names as well as lives. This has always been a very repulsive notion to me; especially when I was married. I didn’t want to lose my identity, to become a Mrs, to only be seen as the extension of a man. I wanted to retain who I was beforehand, as if the gesture of changing a name would change who I was. I thought the people who combined, or came up with their own last names, were being a bit better, but I still found the concept strange and disturbing. It suggested that both people had lost who they are and become something else.

It seemed natural to me, then, that I would be so repulsed by the thought of changing my name after marriage. (I suppose some of this aversion came from being submissive in a relationship for so long.) And I didn’t. I refused to, and Mars never pressed me on it – he felt the same way. That marriage was simply two people who decided to spend time together; they were Jupiter and Neptune, circling the same sun but having very little of themselves and their lives intertwined. Not taking his name was a definition, it was a statement. It said I was still me, and I would be changed by no one.

Looking back, I wonder why I didn’t see it then. Why it didn’t occur to me that having such a strong reaction against taking my husbands name and all I believed it stood for was A Bad Sign.

How do I know it was A Bad Sign, and not just me? Because I’ve been thinking a lot lately. About relationships, and what they are, and who defines them and what those definitions are. What my own definitions are. And I realized that I don’t believe marriage is about two separate planets orbiting the same sun, separate with few things in common. I realized that I believe marriage is about two people making a statement to join their lives, to work as a unit, as a couple, as an “us” towards common goals. I realized that there wasn’t beauty in two people who set up cold walls to keep the other out; that the beauty exists between two people who willingly join hands and hearts in a common life. I realized that it is not about losing, it is about gaining.

I realized I would take his name.