Why did we do it?

Mim and Marian Wedding September 15, 2013 Harbo Chapel at Augsburg College, Minneapolis
Mim and Marian Wedding, September 15, 2013
Harbo Chapel at Augsburg College, Minneapolis

Sunday in church our pastor announced to the congregation that Mim and I were married in Minneapolis last weekend, after living together 40 years. Seated on the organ bench, which is near the front of the sanctuary, I looked out over all the people who had great big smiles on their faces as they applauded us. (There may have been a few looks of disapproval, but I didn’t notice them.) It was wonderful to feel the warmth of our church family.

After the service, while I was playing the postlude, several people patted me on the back or gave me a hug and said congratulations. One choir member asked me, “Why did you get married now, after 40 years?” Since I was in the middle of playing a loud, exuberant arrangement of “On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand” I said I’d tell her later.

Mim and I have always enjoyed making music together.
We have always enjoyed making music together.

I guess that’s a good question – why did Mim and I finally get married? Probably many other people, including my brother and some of our nieces and nephews, are wondering the same thing. Let me explain by telling a little of our personal story.

Mim and I met each other in a small group Bible study in Chicago on February 1, 1973. After the Bible study, when everyone was talking over coffee, Mim learned that I was moving to Chicago to accept a new job as an editorial researcher for The World Book Encyclopedia, and that I was looking for an apartment. Mim invited me to stay with her until I could find my own place. We became friends, and I never moved out.

Sixteen years later, on January 24, 1989, our Lutheran pastor in Chicago officiated at a Blessing Ceremony for us in lieu of a wedding. Having a wedding wasn’t a legal option at that time. In our Blessing Ceremony, we made a commitment before God, our pastor, and other witnesses to love and be faithful to each other for the rest of our lives. The ceremony was accompanied by the signing of wills and power of attorney documents to approximate the most important legal protections a marriage automatically provides.

With our pastor Steve at our Blessing Ceremony, January 24, 1989.
With our pastor Steve at our Blessing Ceremony, January 24, 1989.

Our Chicago pastor kiddingly reminded me on Facebook last week that that was our REAL wedding, back in 1989! We agree. That’s when we committed ourselves to each other, and the church blessed our commitment.

This year many of the legal prohibitions against same-sex marriage have been dissolved, both at the federal level and in several states, including Minnesota, but not in Wisconsin. Mim and I have been planning for an eventual move to Minnesota in order to provide better protection to each other as we begin to face the inevitable challenges of aging. And then last month, a big change happened. The Federal Department of Treasury announced that the Federal Government will recognize all legally performed same-sex marriages, regardless of whether or not the couple resides in the state where the marriage was performed. The impact of that change is huge for couples like us.  We could get married in Minnesota and still live in Wisconsin, and the Federal Government would recognize our marriage.

The Department of Treasury made that announcement on Thursday, August 29, 2013. By Saturday, August 31, Mim and I were planning our wedding. The following Wednesday, September 4, we made a day trip to Minneapolis to get our marriage license and reserve the small chapel at Augsburg College, Mim’s alma mater, located near downtown Minneapolis, for our wedding.

A small round table served as our altar in the chapel.
A small round table served as our altar in the chapel.

On Sunday, September 15, 2013 Mim and I were married in a small ceremony. The officiant was a spiritual director and former Augsburg classmate of Mim. The witnesses were two close friends of ours who live in the Twin Cities area. After the ceremony, we all enjoyed a celebratory dinner at True Thai restaurant near Augsburg. Mim and I spent Monday visiting friends in southern Minnesota and then we drove back home to Cambridge.

Are our lives any different now that we are legally married? Not really. Our day-to-day living is the same as it has been for many years. We have been a family since God brought us together. But now we feel a little more secure, knowing that, at least on the federal level, our basic rights as a family are protected.

We have not abandoned our plans to move to Minnesota in the future, because Wisconsin still does not provide us many important rights that other married couples have – such as the right to be treated as a spouse when the other member of the couple is hospitalized. Mim and I expect that all states, even Wisconsin, will fully honor same-sex marriages eventually. That may happen in a few years, or perhaps it may take a decade or two. Since Mim and I are already in our sixties, we don’t know how long we can wait for Wisconsin to catch up to Minnesota and other states in treating us the same as any other married couple.

But for now, we are happily married and residing in Wisconsin – already having celebrated our 40th anniversary of living together; being almost ready to celebrate the 25th anniversary of our commitment to each other being blessed by the church; and just beginning our first year of “legal marriage.”

We recreated the altar on our piano at home. Something old: The candelabra were used in her parents' wedding.  Something new: The flowers. Something borrowed: The cross was borrowed from our church. Something blue: The votive candle.
We recreated the altar on our piano at home.
Something old: The candelabra were used in Mim’s parents’ wedding.
Something new: My sister-in-law had more fresh flowers waiting for us.
Something borrowed: The cross was borrowed from our church.
Something blue: We had lots of blue!

16 responses to “Why did we do it?”

  1. Ingrid Nelson and Paul Hough Avatar
    Ingrid Nelson and Paul Hough

    Congratulations, Marion and Mim! How wonderful! I follow your blog posts, although Paul does not since he is not an computer kind of guy. We remember fondly our last visit to Whispering Winds, including joining in on your hymn sing. Reading your current entry, I discovered another connection with you two (including, already, Ellen and spiritual direction, Swedish Covenant Hospital, Lake Mills itself, & now Steve Anderson, NP classmate for me, Lutheran pastor for Paul)


  2. Congratulations, best wishes, and many blessings for the years to come!

  3. I am so pleased for you! Congratulations!!! And just a note, registering as domestic partners in Wisconsin extends a lot of those hospital visiting rights that you mentioned. You might want to look into that as well.

    1. Thanks, Mary. We’ll check that out. We expect to live in Wisconsin for a few more years, and
      we want to be as well protected as we can.

  4. Congratulations again from me, Marian and Mim!  Yours is a beautiful story, and it’s easy to see how God has blessed you through the years.

    I hope soon all states will acknowledge full family rights to same-sex marriage partners.  It is time for Americans to focus on godly living rather than on making and keeping harmful rules. 

    May you enjoy each other for years to come! Mardelle


    1. Thanks, Mardelle. Not all of our relatives are as kind and understanding as you are. We really appreciate your well wishes.

  5. Wishing you another 40 years of love and happiness! Your loving respect for each other is an example for all couples.

  6. Hurray! You are a shining example to all couples. I admire your continued commitment to each other. I was so happy to see both of you last week — with your feet off the ground! It’s beautiful!

  7. Congratulations Mim and Marian. Happy for both of you. Thanks for sharing the details of your commitment/marriage. Hope the move to MN isn’t something that will happen in the near future. We/I would miss you both.

  8. Wonderful blog post! Thanks for sharing your experience, and congratulations from Ann, Mark, Kristen, and Katie!

  9. hi mim and marian….i am so very happy for you! i thought it was wonderful that jeff shared your good news with all of us at 8:15 on sunday. we really are like family. your love and devotion and respect for each other is so apparent. may you have many more decades of life together. hugs, mary wanless


  11. Both of you are truly inspiring, and you know how much I wish for you every blessing and joy that life can bring, and many, many more years together. I hope to see you in Chicago in January.

  12. Mim and Marion,
    God’s richest blessings to both of you. You are such dear people, I can only pray for your continued happiness and good health.

    Love your pictures!

  13. I couldn’t be happier for you both. You have an amazing story that epitomizes the long lasting love that is possible in this world. May the future years that you continue to share together be as splendid as the last 40!

  14. Congratulation! So happy for you 2. Yes I wish more people would understand. The last time I saw you 2, you seemed so happy. I could feel the joy and love within your home.

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