I have to admit that I completely underestimated the whole thing.

Because we had already been together for 17 years, it was easy to think that it wouldn’t be that big of a deal. Even after breaking into a sweat at the city clerk’s office getting our marriage license, I still discounted it all.

When the day finally came, it hit me hard.

When I woke up the morning of our wedding day, I had a pit in my stomach. Not because I was getting second thoughts; after all this time and with two kids home from college there is no time for second thoughts. It was because of the magnitude of what was about to happen.

I’m getting married! To a man! Married!

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Christopher and Jim on their wedding day

The entire day I just felt fuzzy. I can’t really explain it.

When I was young, I spent my entire life trying to follow societal norms. I did what I was told to do, whether it made me happy or not. As a young man you’re supposed to date women, find a girlfriend, after some time get engaged, then one year later get married, and then eventually have kids. Marriage was between a man and a woman, of course. No discussion.

That was the plan, and I stuck to it as hard as I could.

While that particular path ended in divorce for me, I did end up having two amazing children and I ultimately found my true self in the process. All of the details – trust me, all of the details – are in my book “Out and About Dad”!

I’ll never regret a single moment because I have two children as a result. But it was a long process and I just never imagined fitting into another societal norm ever again.

If anything, I have been out of the norm. I’ve spent years raising those two children as an anomaly.

Back in the day, I was virtually the only fully active dad around, and quite possibly the only gay one. When I met my partner and we began building a life together, we were virtually the only ones of our kind, and perhaps the only visible ones.

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Christopher and Jim early in their relationship

We just got used to being odd men out. Something as legitimate and equal as marriage never crossed our minds. I thought it was just never in the cards again, after having been married to a woman.

Thankfully, times are changing.

As we walked through New York’s Central Park on a glorious August Sunday with our two adult children and our wedding officiate (a dear friend from when I used to work at Johnson & Johnson), I think we all got the magnitude of the situation.

In a way, I’m happy that we didn’t get married until my children were older. Because they got it too. They were our witnesses, after witnessing and being in our lives for so many years.

When we reached the ceremony destination, a glow took us over. We were reveling in the moment, moment to moment, from the two children handing us the rings, to “I do,” to a champagne toast, to a glorious dinner later on in the evening.

It was monumental, I don’t know how else to say it. I was in a complete trance.

When I changed my Facebook status to “married,” that’s when the texts, posts, and congratulations started pouring in. I’ve honestly never felt more loved in my life. Especially at this time in my life.

And the best part?

I get to call him “husband,” just like everyone else married to a man. No more “partner,” no more “lover,” no more “boyfriend.” No more labels to try to define our relationship.

Husband.

It’s amazing how one little word can put you on equal footing and how one little word can mean so very much. Especially when you’re now married with children.

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Alicia, Christopher, Jim and J.R.