Friday, May 27, 2011

Closing the loop on tying the knot

Today we filed a piece of paper with the County Clerk finally registering our common-law marriage.  This option was philosophically favored by Libertarian-minded Lawrence, as it consists of an act in which we tell the government what we've already done, rather than the government giving us its permission to do something (i.e., via a marriage "license").

Common law marriage is fully legal in Texas, but the devil is in the details: it can be difficult to establish rights without going to Court to prove each and every separate instance in which those rights apply.  So if I got hit by a bus, it might be difficult for Lawrence to make medical decisions for me, even though I assigned him medical Power of Attorney several years ago which theoretically should be valid regardless of our marital status. And if I kicked the bucket, he'd have a hell of a time trying to collect survivor benefits from Social Security if he couldn't produce a registration or license.

For those reasons, a registration route exists by which a common-law marriage to a state-sanctioned marriage but without formality and without endorsement by a third party.  In a hold-over from its frontier days,Texas may be unique in the extent to which self-declared marriages are recognized legally: all a couple need do is live together and represent that they are married, and they are married, by law.  But it's administratively more efficient when the marriage is registered.

It's a bit of a tricky concept.  Thus far, Cayley has been the shrewdest in grasping where this option fits on the continuum of "togetherness".  The first words out of her mouth were, "So if you guys broke up now, would you need to file for a divorce?"  Answer:  Yes, absolutely.  And that, of course, is the ultimate litmus test for whether a state-sanctioned marriage has actually formed.

I'm SO romantic, ain't I??  Well, I've got a hell of an appropriate bedfellow to continue having and holding in that regard.  I won't even bother telling the entire story about how Lawrence contemplated declaring our anniversary as coinciding with the calendar date upon which Nobel Prize-winning physicist Erwin Schrodinger published his famous "Schrodinger's cat" manuscript, because I seriously doubt that anyone could comprehend his rationale.

So how's this for romantic:
What could possibly be more romantic than 6AI4V ASTM Grade 5 (aircraft-quality) titanium with a Gibeon meteorite inlay showing its signature Widmanstatten pattern?

Yeah, I know, I know.  Not everybody's cup of tea, but we thought it was absolutely delightful, and an appropriate nod to Lawrence's aerospace engineering education and current career as an ISS Flight Controller.

Actually, Lawrence's invoking Schrodinger's cat during this process was more a propos than it might first appear, because when we would sit down to plan any kind of conventional marriage, it felt like we were trying to herd cats.  Talk about Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle!  Every time I'd get one or two of those cats corralled, another few would go flying off in another direction - a quantum quandary metaphorically manifest in socio-consanguineous n-dimensional space!  

So by letting the situation naturally evolve this way, we have removed one pesky layer of complexity from our equation.  We reserve all future rights to ceremoniously reinforce this commitment that we made to each other and to Cayley several years back, to re-take publicly the private vows that have long since characterized our union.  But now we have the option of doing that in a less-loaded framework of expectations (whew!).

And - oh yeah! - in case it hasn't been obvious during the past four years, we're very happy.

No comments:

Post a Comment