James Yamasaki

Take it from someone who's been there—marriage is not all cuddles and kisses and survivor pension benefits (and if you work for Boeing, not even that). Sure, it can be great. For the first couple years, at least. Kind of like living together, but with better appliances and sharper knives.

But marriage isn't easy, and legal recognition won't make yours any stronger. In an era when it's harder to break a lease than it is a marriage contract, that gender-neutral marriage license you just signed is about as meaningful as a Sylvan Learning Center "Certificate of Achievement." That's why about half of all marriages end in divorce.

So if you want to make the most of marriage equality—even a marriage that doesn't last—take a few tips from somebody who's been through all of its stages.

Have a big gay wedding.

After all that fuss, you're going to celebrate your right to marry with a couple of close friends and a justice of the peace? I don't think so. With rights come responsibilities, and your first obligation is to blow a wad of cash on a big fat gay wedding.

You owe it to your community—the thousands of florists, caterers, hoteliers, etc. who are banking on marriage equality to help get our local wedding economy back on track. Throw your own awesome gay-ass wedding. (Consult The Stranger's forthcoming special wedding issue—coming January 23— for ideas.) You owe it to your friends and family, especially us normals. You think it's easy putting aside millennia of tradition/discrimination (and let's be honest, a touch of revulsion), all for the sake of your happiness? The least you owe us for destroying traditional marriage is to throw us a fucking party with a decent meal and an open bar. (I had an open bar at my wedding, and I married into an Irish family. You can afford it.)

But mostly, you owe it to yourselves. You only get married once. Or twice. Rarely more than three times. And sure, your beloved may gradually morph into a selfish, soul-sucking shrew who steals all the joy out of your life. But he or she can never take away the precious memory of your one special day... or more than half the wedding gifts. Which brings us to tip number two.

Demand wedding gifts.

After a couple years of marriage, your romance will lose its edge faster than ice skates on asphalt, but properly cared for, an eight-inch Zwilling J.A. Henckels Pro Chef's Knife ($129.99, on sale at Macy's) will stay as sharp and shiny as the day you unwrapped it. That's why, whether you're a couple of young queens just graduating from college or a pair of old dykes who've been fixing up a West Seattle craftsman forever, you're never too old or too established to enjoy the one benefit of marriage that's bound to last: the wedding gifts.

Love, sex, companionship—that was great and everything, but the KitchenAid Immersion Blender ($39.99 at Target) we got as a gift was a revelation. You can puree soups and sauces right in the pot! Amazing. And while my wife has been gone for more than a decade, rarely a day goes by that I don't still make loving use of our trusty Magnalite Classic 11.25-inch Fry Pan ($72.89 at Sears). Heats evenly and cleans up like magic.

Remember: Love fades, relationships sour, and marriages crumble. But a quality piece of cookware can last a lifetime.

Have kids.

Anybody can sign a license and say "I do," but the ties that truly bind are our children. So I don't care how you do it—adoption, artificial insemination, kidnapping, cloning—if you really want to be equal, if you really want to handcuff yourself to your spouse the way we straights do it, for better or worse, until death do us part, then you need to get yourself some goddamn kids.

You see, once you have children, not even divorce can fully tear your marriage asunder. Every birthday, holiday, soccer game, parent-teacher meeting, graduation, and other such "special" occasions—even your kids' own godforsaken weddings—you'll find yourselves face-to-face, feigning politeness, whether you're still as in love as the day you wed or you now hate each other with an even greater passion.

Imagine your craziest, most regrettable, most embarrassing ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend. Now imagine spending every fucking Thanksgiving with that person for the rest of your natural lives. That's the sort of lifelong commitment that comes only from being divorced with children.

Also, kids are great. (Love you, Katie!) But either way, it just isn't full marriage equality without them.

Get divorced.

It's called "marriage equality," asshole, not "lifestyle one-upmanship." So if about half of you don't end up getting divorced, you're not doing it right. recommended