Sunday, February 17, 2008


Michael and I celebrated our 18th anniversary yesterday. 18 years! As you know, or don't know and have perhaps wondered about, or revoltedly suspected, we were not married for most of them. I wrote about this particular stubbornness of ours in an esssay in the anthology The Bitch in the House. But then I took a job at Amherst College for the famously excellent benefits, balked over the insurance forms, and checked off "same-sex partner" for Michael, with "same-sex" crossed out. Doh! They called me back in immediately ("If we insured Michael, then we'd have to insure all your boyfriends, wouldn't we now?" they said, which made me feel deliciously trampy, if still underinsured). I called home in tears. "We have to get married!" I cried into the phone. "Otherwise they won't insure you." And Michael said cheerfully, "Honey--are you proposing to me?" And, in my own broke, Blue Cross way, I suppose I was. And so we were married by the town clerk, and suffice it to say, I didn't so much appreciate needing to complete a little safe-sex lecture and be tested for STDs, given that we'd skipped already through that particular leafy glade, having conceived penis-vagina type babies and all. But whatever. All that is a long way of saying that when people ask us what event it is we're celebrating on our anniversary, I hesitate. Should I mention that we used to call it our "bone-iversary"? Probably not.

New wondertime columns are here and here and because I'm so delinquent about posting, there will be yet another one up tomorrow!



  1. Hey! My husband and I have been together for 18 years too - with a five year break betwen the 2 and 7 year mark so all of that togetherness wouldn't get dull and all that. Our gettin' together anniversary is on Canadian Thanksgiving, which gives cranberries and turkey an otherwise-lacking erotic allure.
    (and happy anniversary to you guys.)

  2. "Bone-iversary!" I love it! Happy anniversary however you count it. 18 years is a long time and I'm glad you 2 could be together, married or not, for that long and many many more years to come!

  3. Anonymous2:41 PM

    I can relate: next month is our
    16th anniversary but we have only been married for 6 years...
    Including the 16 years of dating (most of which was spent living together) in the celebration just seems right. By the time we got married we had worked out most of the major kinks (oh, but then the kids came along!).

    --wanted to say I love your writing! Happy Anniversary!

  4. Congratulations!
    12 years for us, but without the actual town hall (or any other venue) part.. :) I still feel a little deliciously wicked to this day...

  5. Congratulations! My almost sixty year old mother has a live in boyfriend of twenty two years. One day my five year old said he had three grandpa's, I asked who they were.. he named off my dad, my husbands dad and then said " And you know, the guy that grandma Rosie lives with" LOL my mother was appalled, but not enough to marry him. It is her patern.. her and my father were never married either.

  6. When we finally took the plunge, bone-iversity wise, we heard on the radio later that night that THAT was the day to coceive the "mellinnium baby". UG! Here we'd only been dating for 2 months, had just uh, you know, and NOW they tell us that TODAY is the day to do it if you want to the first baby of the mellinnium.

    To say that was nerve-racking is an understatement. Also, we didn't get pregnant that night... whew!

  7. Um, I meant millennium. *slapping forehead*

  8. Anonymous5:00 PM

    We need some sort of abbreviation for the all too common opening to a post - I've read you for years, love your writing, never posted before, think we are friends - although not in a crazy stalkerish way, etc. etc. etc.

    Anyway, in reading your insurance story I couldn't help but wonder why would you cross out the "sex" part of "same-sex partner?" Tee Hee.

    Can I just say that after reading your love letter to Michael in "O" I think I'm in love with Michael? Don't get me wrong, I have my own hunky husband that I adore. But the things you share about Michael with us - he just seems to be such a gentle soul with a similar sense of humor and calm as my husband. What is not to love?

    We are right behind you with our 16th "bone-iversary" coming up Memorial Day and our 10th anniversary the month after that. And in between we will celebrate a 2nd, 5th and 7th birthday for each of our boys. My cup runneth over.

    Congrats on all your years together. Here's to many, many more.


  9. Congratulations on your bone-iversary! Commitment is worth celebrating, insurance benefits or no!
    I enjoyed your proposal story, btw.

  10. OMG! Bone-iversary is great. My own is on April 2, although we eventually did get married 4 years later. Congratulations on your marriage, although how weird is it that "common-law" would not be insurable. Anyway, that's awesome, and by the way, I LOVED your post on your dinnertime conversations!

  11. Anonymous7:44 PM

    Hi Catherine,

    I love your writing, and I so appreciate your circumstance re being a couple vs being married. Next month, my now-husband and I will have been together 19 years, but we've been married 8.

    Buying a house and the legal and tax implications were what put us over the edge into getting married. (an H&R Block consultation about needing to draw up contracts about mortgage stuff, etc led us to it) We did the county courthouse thing, in which we actually got to "take a number" like you do at the deli. And it was all one line for licenses: marriage, fishing, etc.

    I'm a longtime reader and lurker, but I feel a sense of kindred spirits on this one, especially.

    So thanks.

  12. Anonymous8:38 PM

    It was our anniversary yesterday too but we have only been together 8 years. My husband proposed to me as I came out of the bathroom - and I wasn't in there taking a shower.

    I love your story. I kept wondering when you got married, having read "Bitch in the House". I always loved the way you said you decided not to get married because it meant you kept choosing each other - so sweet.

    Happy Bone-iversary!

  13. FIRST of all, you are totally cheating to count from first bonk. It makes it look like you are WAY ahead of the rest of us.

    I am a little sad that you're married now. I liked thinking of you guys having this awesome stable family without an actual marriage, and I liked that you didn't want to get married until your friends could get married. But OKAY, fine, BE married. Health insurance is health insurance.

  14. I always thought it was to mysterious that you didn't say if Michael was your husband, even though that made me assume that he wasn't. I can just imagine the kind of comments you could have generated over that one. Well, congrats on taking the plunge! :) Happy anniversary.

  15. Anonymous10:18 PM

    congrats... i love hearing the story of how it came to be.

  16. Anonymous11:45 PM

    Catherine, you ROCK! I am delurking to say that in our house - it is called 'hump-iversary' ;-)

  17. Anonymous12:42 AM


  18. Anonymous10:51 AM

    Well-- happy anniversary to you. We're coming up on our second-- and lordy if I'm not sure we'll make it to eighteen. It's been a loong two years. *just kidding*...kind of.

    I always wondered if you and Michael were married "officially" and all. I mean not that it really makes a difference or anything. Feel like I got to know you a little better ;)

    Have a lovely "bone--iversary?" God, that sounded creepy for some reason. Have a lovely anniversary.


  19. Anonymous1:20 PM

    I remember reading your babycenter final column, I think it was, where you wrote about how you never actually said whether you and Michael were married or not, and how surprised I was to think maybe you weren't. You always hear about the people who were together for dozens of years, then one gets in an accident or something awful, and the estranged parents swoop in and make all the life/death decisions since the "partner" is not officially a "spouse." So naturally I assumed, since you are such a self-proclaimed worrywart, that you would be married to avoid that sort of thing (altho I'm sure you get along great with Michael's family, but still...) Ha! I was so completely wrong! Congratulations on all your anniversaries! (and BTW, my hubby and I celebrate the anniversary of our "first kiss" date too!)

  20. :) We got married for legal-y insurance-y reasons, too.

    So, here's to 18 more years. Congratulations to you all.

  21. Though we've only been married for 5 years, my hubby and I have been together for 14....DAMN THE MAN!!

    happy bone-iversary!

  22. Hey! Congratulations!

    I just looked to my left and realized that Beck began her post with a hooray mark 'Hey,' too. She knows me personally (in a bloggy sort of way) so I'm going to leave mine there in fervent belief that she won't mind.

  23. You know, I have to tell you even tho it is 'off topic' since this is the only forum to do it in. I think I have recommended your book/blog to a dozen women. Tonight I am getting a massage, talking to the masseuse about parenting and yet again, 'poof' out comes your name! Again! I swear I should be your PR rep. Anyway, every time I do recommend you, my friends thank me. So, THANK YOU!

  24. Congrats Catherine! Is it weird or what? Today, I don't know why, I was thinking about that piece in which Michael is sick at the hospital and I wondered if you guys were married. I know, it's weird, to think about you like that, out of the blue. But no, I'm not a stalker, I'm just a great fan.
    My husband and I have been together 9 years. We were dating for 3 months when he proposed, and three months later we got married. We were 20 and 21. How young!!!! But we had a "great" incentive to get married. No, I wasn't pregnant either; in fact we hadn't even, you know...That was the incentive ;) And I was crazy about him. I'm still crazy, not only about him but also because of him. KWIM?

  25. Anonymous9:27 PM

    Congratulations! My husband and I hit our 8 year anniversary yesterday (though we've only been married for 6). Hope you and Michael enjoyed a wonderful celebration.

  26. Hi Catherine!
    My partner and I have been together for six years, married for almost four, but we did it secretly, in the middle of the week in a wheat field at sunset with just our two best friends there. Now, two kids one except those present that day know that we're married, not even our parents!

    I love having to keep "choosing" each other, and that we have this crazy special secret between the two of us. Maybe someday we'll have a big party and spill the beans, but until then we're enjoying ourselves. That's what it's all about, eh?

    Congratulations to you and Michael. Here's to many many more insurance covered years!

  27. For Swistle:
    Happily, Catherine's friends CAN be married now, as Massachusetts is one of the few states that recognizes same-sex marriage! Cheers!

  28. Anonymous2:21 AM

    some people over at babycenter will be very relieved to know that you are no longer raising your children in an impure unmarried house of sin. :) we had been together for 8 years when we got married, had already lived together, bought a house. and everyone kept asking "do you feel different?" nope, not at all. the wedding is just a technicality- the commitment had already been made. funny that some people don't get that you can have one without the other. a marriage without commitment or the other way around. anyway, happy bone-iversary!

  29. Anonymous11:31 AM

    My husband and I got married twice! The first time for insurance and then a year later we had an actual wedding with family and friends. The first one (at City Hall) we kept a total secret and since it was in November, we actually decided it should be on the date of our "bone-iversary." This fact thrills me to this day. So we actually celebrate our bone-iversary and first wedding anniversary simultaneously. The second wedding anniversary (which everyone else remembers) we barely acknowledge (though are they both in November). Whenever people ask us how long we've been married we always say "eight or nine years." Because it depends on which wedding we're counting. But we've been together for eleven!

  30. Oh, honey, the happiest of un-anniversaries to you both.

  31. Who cares when it was made legal or insurance company appropriate? What matters is what you and Michael have felt in your hearts and in your minds. What matters most is those 18 years of partnership and two beautiful kids. My husband and I will celebrate our 4th wedding anniversary on the 28th, but we've been together for 7 wonderful years in which we've held each other's hands through sicknesses, losing family members, financial strain, and fertility issues. I bought The Bitch in the House because I'm such a fan of yours, and I thought your essay in that book was so honest and true, and it truly spoke to me.

    Here's to you and Michael, and I hope the two of you had an uber-fantastique anniversary, no matter what day it was marking!!!!

  32. Anonymous9:03 PM

    The masters-of-ceremony at our wedding (my husband's brother and his wife) openly joked that it was a "health insurance wedding" as opposed to their "Green card wedding." To be truthful, ours was a bit of both (yay, bureaucratic expediency!) but mostly for love--we'd met, dated and lived together in Canada before we decided to move to the US for job reasons.


  33. Congrats on your boneiversary! I got so mad over at babycenter when everyone was making a big hullabaloo over whether you guys were married or not. Sheesh. That is a cute little story though, Michael sure must be a great guy ;)

  34. That's friggin' funny. Bone-iversary. For me, it's St. Patty's Day. 8 years this year. Our Bone-iversary. Something I would never post myself, but will share here. Heh.
    Oh ~ and congrats to you and yours. That is quite a big deal - 18 years.

  35. Anonymous10:27 AM

    Shoot, I thought you'd gotten married because you were living in a state that had same-sex marriage.

    Is it too late to send a fish-slice, or was a shared deductible the only present you really wanted anyway?


  36. Anonymous10:55 AM

    I always thought it was funny how everyone seemed to keep wondering and some made a big deal about it. I loved the link that I read where you talked about the sweat pants and going home afterward, etc. Got a good laugh. Congratulations on your many years. My husband & I will be married for 14 yrs this year with 6 yrs before that. I think we finally got annoyed enough with the 'living in sin' comments. We now have a 5 yr old. Again with the comments....'you're not getting any younger'. Blah, Blah, Blah as my son says. I enjoy reading your writing - it always gives me a laugh and usually a tear as well. You make us feel that we are not totally alone in our feelings. But no, I won't be chasing after you in my sweet potato stained shirt! LOL. Thanks, Shari

  37. Married?! 18 years is a long time and it is nice to know you are both so happily together, in whatever form.

    This past September was our 10th wedding anniversary and November was our 15th Bone-iversary as you so delicately put it.

    Long live the committment!


  38. Oh, believe me, I would have liked nothing more than to take the high moral ground and say that we got married when gay marriage became legal in Mass--but there was the slight problem of that not actually being true. Alas. Since we got married before that.

    I will say, given that the issue of gay marriage had been the main thing preventing us from marrying before: the fact that married straight people AND gay domestic partners could all get health insurance, and that we were the idiots stuck in a financial insurance hell of our own stubborn making--well, that started to seem kind of silly. Convenient, I know, but there you go.

    Also--who was it that referred to our "bone-iversity"? That made me laugh out loud. Like we're deans of a perverted college.


  39. Thanks for clearing up the offical status of your relationship with Michael-I've always been curious, but figured it wasn't my business if you didn't want to share. And I totally cracked up at "bone-ivesary" Good times!

  40. Anonymous12:47 PM

    "Like we're deans of a perverted college."

    Well, you are the one with all those boyfriends trying to get on your insurance, ya big ol' slutgirl, you.


  41. Hey, Happy Bone-iversary! My husband & I have that, too (actually it's Feb. 17th -- what is it about February?). It was 24 years this year (married just 10).

  42. 18 years! That is fabulous! Congratulations! And many more to you.

  43. Congratulations! My husband and I were actually married on our "Bone-iversary", so they're one in the same! We'll celebrate 14 years of wedded bliss and 17 years of, well, the other!

  44. Congratulations!

    We got married on December 31 (15 years ago) at the courthouse so that we could file our taxes married filing jointly. The courthouse lady politely suggested that was not a good enough reason and perhaps I should write something else on the form we had to fill out. lol

    It was several years before we started giving our wedding anniversary more significance than our original anniversary (first kiss).

  45. Wow, Catherine, this is maybe the fiftieth time in three years (since your college classmate Lisi, a dear friend, gave me your book when I was pregnant with my second) that I've thought about commenting to say, Hey, that sounds just like my life! -- and I'm FINALLY actually writing... It was the "18" that did it. We've been marveling over that number around here a lot lately, ours is coming up in the fall (although we rather chastely call it our "first date anniversary"). This year is also our 10th wedding anniversary, and we've been debating whether and how we might actually celebrate that one, since we've always pretty much ignored it in favor of our "real" anniversary. Anyway -- the real point here is how much I love love your writing, your angle of vision and your honesty about your crazy brain which makes me feel like I'm in good company, and even possibly normal in a certain kind of way. Thank you!

    Also a question: where & when did you ever post that piece on blogging? I've searched for it unsuccessfully, and I'm very curious about what you have to say. As a non-blogging writer who is an increasingly addicted reader of blogs (I consider my interest to be, um, sociological), I have some very strong opinions, and in my doppelgangerish way I'm taking bets with myself about which ones you share...

    Happy anniversary to you two lovelies.

  46. kitty, she wrote a piece for Wondertime magazine about blogging. It was really good, and all along the bottom were snippets from past entries that I remembered with warmth. You'll enjoy it. Hope this helps!

  47. Anonymous7:27 PM

    And Michael said cheerfully, "Honey--are you proposing to me?" And, in my own broke, Blue Cross way, I suppose I was. proposal ever. Happy anniversary!

  48. Anonymous8:31 AM

    Congratulations, Catherine and Michael!

    Your proposal story reminded me of when I proposed to my now-husband. We'd been dating for 6 years and my dad was about to move to Indonesia indefinitely. With the idea that my dad might not be able to be with us when we finally decided to get married, I called J in the middle of the night from my grandparents' (I was with my dad on his farewell visit to them) and, whispering into the phone, asked if he wanted to get married in two weeks! (This summer will be our 14th anniversary and 20th bone-iversary.)

  49. Anonymous2:58 PM

    I keep imagining Michael fluttering his lashes and saying "Why, Miss Newman, this is so sudden!"

    I'm guessing your truthy self will refuse to tell me that happened, no matter how much I want you to.

  50. Happy Bone-iversary! I love what you did with the forms...but can't get over the response you got. Why won't they insure your many boyfriends? Or at least your favourite one?

  51. Anonymous9:24 PM

    Happy coupling day or whatever you want to call it. I think we held out an entire week before we "christened" the relationship. However, we've been together ever since (19 years and 15 married). We always planned to get married and did, however, I was very poor freelancer at the time so it did keep me insured and off the streets.
    But not that your legal status or mine matters. It's the relationship b/c you it is something you chose to put your heart, mind and soul into. I think that is why all the fuss over the wedding day bugs me - shouldn't people be putting that much care into the relationship and not the flowers or reception?

    Or just focus on the bone-iversary!


  52. Anonymous12:31 AM

    My partner and I have been together for 9yrs and have a 7yo son, but have no plans to "tie the knot." Originally he didn't want to get married so soon, then I realized that if we weren't married, I'd qualify for grant money for college. These days, it's due to the arcane tax law, where if we married, we would both be bumped to the next tax bracket - effectively paying 6k a year more in taxes. If the laws or our finances change in the future, we may reconsider. As others have said, the commitment has been made. I don't need a piece of paper to prove it to others (though my mother doesn't quite "get it"). We celebrate NYE (our first "real" date without a group of friends) and Valentine's Day (the day we mutually agreed to become engaged after I was already pregnant). I have no clue what our bone-iversary is... beginning of Feb. maybe? lol.

    The only hangup has been at work, where I've referred to "my partner Tom..." and some hard of hearing individuals thought I was referring to my bother. Like I would take my brother to the company holiday party, pshaw ;)

  53. Anonymous3:42 PM

    Happy bone-iversary!

    I love that you used the word "partner" for Michael on BabyCenter [where I first encountered your writing]. It didn't occur to me to wonder if you really were married, I just thought it was awesome to refer to ones spouse as ones "partner" to the kids because it conveys so much better what that relationship should be than "husband" or "wife" does. Plus it's more inclusive of other family configurations. It made me mindful of what ideas about love and marriage I my words convey to my kids and changed the way I talked to them about the subject.

    Then I happened on a copy of The Bitch in the House and realized you weren't actually married. I'd seen you refer to Michael as your husband in other publications recently and wondered if that had changed or if it was just a stylistic choice, so now my curiosity is quelled. Thanks. :)

    But I personally hope [as if it's any of my business] that you still use the term "partner" sometimes because it conveys something that we all need to be more aware of. And how cool would it be if even us married folk used the more legally ambivalent phrase? Because the legal distinction is so much less important than the spiritual distinction [I speak as one lucky enough to have that choice, I know, but still]. A true partnership is what I hope my children will hold out for

  54. Anonymous6:53 AM

    Happy Bone-iversary Catherine and Michael. My husband and I are the same -we celebrate the night we became a couple (20 years ago -eek that makes me feel old!) rather than the day we were legally wed (12 years ago).

  55. Anonymous11:53 AM

    happy anniversary! I've also been reading since the pre-Birdy babycenter days, but haven't commented over here that I can remember. We also celebrate our "hook-up-iversary" which was my hubby's 21st birthday, I was 19 & only using him for access to the off campus liquor store, heh. cheers!

  56. Anonymous11:48 AM

    Happy 18 years together, Catherine! I have been reading you since Baby Center and always wondered what the big deal was about whether you were married or not. I note that only because I seem to be in a minority here: I will have been married 20 years this November, and have no idea what date my bone-iversary is, except that it was some years earlier. Fortunately I am not too old to have forgotten the actual event! In any case, some of us "old marrieds" also don't care whether you were, or you weren't, or even your reasons for being either, except that you do seem to have a very special relationship with Michael, and as far as I'm concerned, you should celebrate that any way you can think of! His response to your proposal, in particular, fills me with the sort of "awww" feeling I ususally associate with reading about your kids.

  57. Anonymous4:14 PM

    I'll add my three-year-old's profound thoughts on marriage: she told me one recent afternoon that she needed some flowers for her wedding. I asked her whom she was marrying, and she told me "Dora and Diego (who often visit our house as imaginary friends). They want me to be their mommy." I had told her that marriage was one way to make a family with someone, so she thought anyone who wanted to go into a kind of family partnership should have a wedding. Sounds fine to me!

  58. Anonymous12:12 AM

    I love that Michael finds the romantic in unlikely places.

    Because of course, he's right. It all really is. We all lead romantic lives, weepy phone call proposals and all.

    And that's why we love you. You're romantic like that, too.

    I'm horrible at remembering dates, thus have no idea when our bone-iversary would be, but I do remember vividly, with lots of images, how a friendship turned into something more. This is all way more significant to me than a wedding date.


  59. Anonymous9:12 PM

    Happy 5th Birthday to Birdy!!

  60. Anonymous1:52 AM

    Birdy is five?!!

    Shit. That's not possible, is ti?


  61. Oh....I loved your dinner conversation. Mostly because that is what dinner is like here and it makes me crack up to know that I am not the only one spinning in a sea of conversations. I wondered once if we were all being rude by not really listening to each other so I tried to have all five of us be polite and take turns. Ugh...let me tell you, that doesn't work either. The conversation gets all stiff and unnatural. Plus, the children, smart as they are, learn to just keep going on and on and on once they have your attention. Thanks for making me feel normal!

  62. This comment has been removed by the author.

  63. Hey!
    As always, you post about the things I am, or will go through. My bf and I have a baby together, in addition to my 3 kids from a previous marriage. He can take on moving in, having the baby with me, and supporting us, but unless we have a piece of paper, he cannot get benefits when I go back to work. Guess I need to get over my marriage-phobia in the next year and a half! So, were the kids with you when you married? I'll have to figure out how to do this...
    I always knew you kept your marital status a secret for a reason, you dirty, dirty girl! LOL

    Loved the "bone-iversary" comment!

    or go to where I quote your book, which I LOVE@!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  65. Hey! I just read your article "The Snail Whisperer" in O magazine and loved it so much that I HAD to look up more of your writings. Your blog is super entertaining. Check out mine if you have time! ;)

  66. Anonymous8:37 AM

    Um, where are you? I'm going through blog withdrawals...I already read wondertime... What? You have a life outside of blogging that you are perhaps trying to live? :)

  67. This comment has been removed by the author.

  68. Congartulations on your wedding, Catherine and Michael, and happy "romantiversary" (anniversary of becoming romantic partners)

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