For years, I was content with being a girlfriend. I was busy in my career, obtaining two different master degrees and socializing throughout Dallas. Being a girlfriend, allowed me to remain true to my personal endeavors, all while having companionship, love and a plus one. I carefully avoided the when are you getting married again with the catch-all phrase - One day. I'm just not ready yet. To me, being a girlfriend had different responsibilities and rights than a wife. Rights I was not ready to take on.
In 2012, something changed. Without any warning, I went from girlfriend to fiancé in 5 months. I had never been happier in my life. I loved my husband-to-be despite the unusual circumstances of our brief, whirlwind courtship. Twin would say, "You're not my girlfriend, you're the woman I am marrying" and I would say, “Well, right now I'm your girlfriend." So I referred to myself as Twin's girlfriend, since I did not care much for the formality of the fiancé word. We both were on our second marriage and I decided, I did not want an engagement ring. I just wanted my wedding band. So the plan was for me to skip work on Monday, we would go to the courthouse and be married.
But on November 1, 2012 (Saturday before Monday), I experienced firsthand there truly is a difference in girlfriend, fiancé and wife. Twin went into the emergency room for a thoracic aortic aneurysm. For the next 100 days, while Twin sat in ICU, fighting for his life and unable to speak, I could hear his voice in the back of my head saying, he did not think of me as a girlfriend, but a wife. But to the doctors, surgeons, and nurses who was I? Are you next of kin? Are you his wife? Twin remained in ICU almost 3 months and never regained the ability to speak. He could not say, that's the woman I love and I am marrying. Nor did anyone care that he and I spoke often about what his wishes were if he was to get hospitalized long term. To them, I was just a girlfriend and my rights were not the same as a wife. Twin's mother was Medical Power of Attorney. So there I sat, resenting for the first time my contentment in being a girlfriend.
Had I been a wife, things could have been different. Especially when family does not know what is discussed between a couples. A year later, I maintain the same thought - girlfriends have no rights.
My advice to any woman who is in love with someone more serious than the everyday boyfriend, to not only sit down and discuss wishes in the event something tragic happens, but to go the extra steps. Make sure family is in line with the wishes. Hire an attorney to draw up Statutory Durable General Power of Attorney and a Medical Power of Attorney. Twin and I had the discussion numerous times. We intended on doing it. We even chuckled we'd be married before anything could happen.
No matter our intentions, my choice to hold his wishes dear to my heart, the fact that a year later, our lives are no longer on the same course, one thing still resounds in my head -- Girlfriends have few rights when it really counts.
Have you discussed with a boyfriend or fiance, what you want to happen if a tragic situation occurs your wishes? If so, how did you approach the subject?
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