The Commitment: Love, Sex, Marriage, and My Family

The Commitment: Love, Sex, Marriage, and My Family

In a time when much of the country sees red whenever the subject of gay marriage comes up, Dan Savage-outspoken author of the column "Savage Love"- makes it personal. Dan Savage's mother wants him to get married. His boyfriend, Terry, says "no thanks" because he doesn't want to act like a straight person. Their six-year-old son DJ says his two dads aren't "allowed" to get...

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Title:The Commitment: Love, Sex, Marriage, and My Family
Author:Dan Savage
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Edition Language:English

The Commitment: Love, Sex, Marriage, and My Family Reviews

  • Johnny

    Oh man this one was good too! In this book, Dan Savage devotes a lot more time to research on his subject than he did in

    , which was more more a personal narrative than this one. This one is still a memoir, telling the tale of the gay marriage issue in his relationship, but I loved how he actually brings in lots of quotes and references to other sources. Most of it is still ridiculously funny, but I found myself crying a lot reading this book! It's a great read!

  • unknown

    I am getting married in a little over a month. I am fortunately able to do this, because I am a heterosexual. If I was not, my attempt to enter into a legally-binding, stable relationship with my significant other would apparently rock the very foundations of the institution, and possibly turn a bunch of small, innocent children into drag queens, like some kind of ray gun.

    Dan Savage, famous syndicated sexual advice columnist (and now

    ) either is or is not married to his lon

    I am getting married in a little over a month. I am fortunately able to do this, because I am a heterosexual. If I was not, my attempt to enter into a legally-binding, stable relationship with my significant other would apparently rock the very foundations of the institution, and possibly turn a bunch of small, innocent children into drag queens, like some kind of ray gun.

    Dan Savage, famous syndicated sexual advice columnist (and now

    ) either is or is not married to his long-time partner Terry. It depends on who you ask. If you ask Dan and Terry, they are married, because they looked into each other's eyes and made a commitment, for better or for worse. If you ask most state governments, they are not, because gay marriage doesn't exist. The federal government agrees.

    It's all right there in the title: The Commitment is about Dan's struggle with what marriage means to him. Why should he want to be married when marriage won't have him? Marriage is an institution, a part of culture, and it is between a man and a woman. Kings and queens. Mommy and daddy. Princes and princesses. Simba and Nala. Even Dan and Terry's son agrees: he likes having two dads, but they shouldn't be

    , because they are

    . Two men getting married is gay!

    Gays also shouldn't be married because marriage is a covenant before the Lord. Never mind if you are a Hindu or an atheist. I mean, apparently. Otherwise, why would so many Mormons and Southern Baptists care if two ladies from Jersey want to tie the knot? Surely they are mocking God, and that is just going to bring the hellfire and brimstone down upon us all.

    So, marriage. Marriage is sacred.

    Except marriage isn't sacred, or isn't

    sacred. Marriage is, governmentally speaking, a legal arrangement. It is an agreement granting two people certain rights and protections: inheritance, medical visitation, power of attorney. Tax benefits. People don't just get married because God says they are supposed to if they want to

    ; they also want to have legal standing, vis-à-vis their relationship with their spouse. Lots of people cohabitate these days instead of marrying, thinking they don't need " a piece of paper" from the state to legitimize their relationship. Which, ok, they don't. Until one of them is hospitalized, or dies, or writes a multi-million selling international blockbuster mystery series and

    dies. Then, they are probably screwed.

    Just like all the gay couples are screwed, all the time.

    My deal is, if you think marriage is sacred, fine. If your religious beliefs tell you a marriage is between a man and a woman, fine. But marriage in the church and marriage as a legal relationship are different things. That's why you still need a document from the court to legitimize it. And I would ask you, whoever you are, to please keep your religious beliefs off to the side when it comes to dictating who can and can't visit a loved one in the hospital.

    I don't understand how gays marrying hurts regular marriage, which is cruising toward obsolescence just fine all on its own, with fewer people marrying later in life and extramarital affairs as popular as ever (a small joke: gay marriage exists; lots of gay men are married... to women). Of course, I also don't understand how saying the word "gay" in the classroom damages society either.

    This book is Dan Savage's struggle with wanting and not wanting to be married. Approaching a milestone anniversary, he and Terry are alternately planning a party and a wedding. They aren't quite sure which it is going to be until the last minute. The thing is, it's all theoretical anyway, because whatever they -- two consenting adults in a committed relationship -- ultimately decide, it doesn't matter. Because it won't be legal.

    I think that totally sucks.

  • Rebecca

    I remember really liking this when the rest of book club was a little uneven about it, and I somehow never put my favorite quotes in Goodreads (what?!) and just came across my list of them, so here they are! Lots of relationship food for thought. (Also, I couldn't help smiling at the descriptions of the Saugatuck, MI community, because I stayed there once.)

    "...we're both contentedly solitary people. Which is part of what makes us so good together: We know when and how to leave each other alone."

    I remember really liking this when the rest of book club was a little uneven about it, and I somehow never put my favorite quotes in Goodreads (what?!) and just came across my list of them, so here they are! Lots of relationship food for thought. (Also, I couldn't help smiling at the descriptions of the Saugatuck, MI community, because I stayed there once.)

    "...we're both contentedly solitary people. Which is part of what makes us so good together: We know when and how to leave each other alone."

    "When your life is going along nicely, when things are looking good, the correct posture to assume is one of gratitude, absent of any hint that you expect your good fortune to last. It's kind of a defensive crouch."

    "I call it Permanent Romance, like Trotsky's idea of Permanent Revolution. We don't take each other for granted, nothing is carved-in-stone, sworn-in-court routine, and that makes our time together fresh and fun, in bed and out."

    "[My parents] were happy together for two decades, they raised four children together, and then, when their children were all practically adults, they parted. That doesn't look like a marriage that failed to me. It looks more like a marriage that reached its expiration date, something more marriages do as our life expectancies increase."

    "Being single visits a kind of constant, low-intensity misery on a person -- at least a person who doesn't want to be single. Coming home to an empty house, not having anyone to confide in, facing illnesses on your own -- being alone hurts, but people can get used to it. But being in a long-term relationship doesn't spare you from all that day-to-day pain. It just banks it. Every day I'm with Terry, every day I'm not alone, a little misery gets put into a savings account, where interest is compounded hourly. The day Terry dies, all the pain I avoided when I was with him will be paid out all at once; I will suffer a windfall of misery. I imagine the pain would feel literally like being torn in two. Maybe that's what people mean when they talk about 'one flesh'?"

    "A religious straight couple can have a big church wedding and kids and the wife can submit to the husband and they can stay married until death parts them -- provided that's what they both want when they marry, and that's what both of them continue to want throughout the marriage. Or a couple of straight secular humanists can get married in a tank full of dolphins and never have kids and treat each other as equals and split up if they decide their marriage isn't working out -- again, if that's what they both want. ...The problem for opponents of gay marriage isn't that gay people are trying to redefine marriage in some new, scary way, but that straight people have redefined marriage to a point that it no longer makes any logical sense to exclude same-sex couples."

    "One of the most underrated virtues -- one I'd like to see virtuecrats promote to parents everywhere, and a virtue many homos have a problem with -- is constancy. Once you're a parent, you simply have to stop reinventing yourself while your children are young."

    "When the demands and pressures of monogamy threaten the survival of a relationship, it's better to toss the baggage of monogamy overboard than to sacrifice the ship of the relationship itself. But I'm a conservative; what do I know?"

    "When people have to pretend that they find no one else attractive, they have to suppress a large part of their sex drive, and that means suppressing (unconsciously, sure, but definitely) their sexual feelings about their partner."

    "...our modern concept of love has at its foundation not only the expectation of monogamy, but the idea that where there's love, monogamy should be easy and joyful. This is, in a word, batshitcrazy."

    "The American public's track record on civil rights issues is so uniformly terrible that anything a majority of Americans oppose automatically deserves the benefit of the doubt."

    p. 177 - prime minister of Canada's speech

    "'I don't believe in that kind of stuff [bad luck]. I believe in personal responsibility. Nothing can f**k up you guys but you guys. It's a beautiful space. Thousands of people have gotten married here, and not all of them have gotten divorced. Don't be such a p***y.'"

    p. 212 - building to big event - nice narrative flow

    "So long as the person who asks the question doesn't come across as crazy or self-destructive, an advice columnist's job is usually to divine what it is the reader wants to do and advise him or her to do just that. A great deal of the mail advice columnists get is from people seeking permission to do whatever it is they want to do or know they must, all of which could be filed under 'Mother, May I?'"

    "...I was savoring two delicious, intoxicating sensations only parents ever experience: The scent and weight of our children. It wasn't until D.J. came along that I fully understood why parents with grown children ache for grandchildren. Once your children are grown, having grandchildren is the only way to experience those twin sensations again; the rich, humid scent of your child, the way your child's hand feels resting in your own, the trusting, contented weight of your child sitting on your lap while you read or watch TV."

    "For children, promises are a deadly serious business because it's all they really have. They don't own anything, they don't control anything. The promises their parents make them are all they've got. And while no parent can keep every promise he makes -- no child can either -- your credibility as a parent rests on a promises-kept-to-promises-broken ranking that your child carries around in his head. Keep more than you break, and you're a parent in good standing. Break more than you keep and you're in trouble."

  • Adrianne Mathiowetz

    If you, like me, are wondering what the heck the deal is with marriage and "traditional values" and staying together forever and how politics, love and law intertwine: well then, this book is probably for you.

    Part memoir, part politics, Dan Savage is his usual fun and hilarious self in this book. He also makes some great, occasionally cutting points, especially in his "Borrowed" and "Blue" chapters. Shit! I stole 'The Gay Lifestyle' for my straight self!

    If you, like me, are wondering what the heck the deal is with marriage and "traditional values" and staying together forever and how politics, love and law intertwine: well then, this book is probably for you.

    Part memoir, part politics, Dan Savage is his usual fun and hilarious self in this book. He also makes some great, occasionally cutting points, especially in his "Borrowed" and "Blue" chapters. Shit! I stole 'The Gay Lifestyle' for my straight self!

    (Oh, and PS: gays, you can't raise chitlins or commit to one another or share health benefits or get power of attorney or whatever, unless you're in a few select states. But the rest of us will totally dance in your clubs.)

    These arguments were well-written and developed, but I do have one beef: for a book that spends the majority of its text talking about how ridiculous and jinxy marriage is for *anyone*, I felt a little jolted when its author suddenly decides to get married in the end. (And with no legal benefits unless laws change in Washington, since the marriage occurred in Canada.)

    Dan Savage! Please tell me why you got married! I want to believe in marriage, I really do! Your book was bumming me out a little bit. You spent so much time convincing me that monogamy was unnatural and unrealistic, that vows were a surefire way to damn an otherwise content relationship, that our definitions of "successful marriage" were screwy and based not upon happiness but someone's death. Dear Lord you're right!

    But wait! Now I'm standing in the middle of a freeway, and cars are whizzing by on both sides and I'm all "whoa what the hell, where do I go from here my paradigms have been (not really overthrown so much as) stabbed with forks and chucked in the river, and I'm somewhat perplexed and soggy and what about fairy tales and stuff I kind of like those" and you're all "WE DIDN'T GET MARRIED THE END" and I'm all "well of course you didn't, that kind of commitment is for fools" and then ten pages later (spoiler alert) you're all "HAHAHA J/K, WE DID."

    That was an amusing trick and all, but seriously. Why did you get married, Dan Savage? That deserves more than a chapter in a book called

    .

  • Tamara

    All stories written with an agenda, whether you agree with the agenda or not, tend to sound forced and opinionated and in-your-face. That would probably be my main criticism of this book. When you've had to spend your whole life defending your choices to others, you come off sounding, um...defensive. And maybe a bit rude. I don't think that wins you any friends in the other camp, or helps you to change people's minds about a emotionally-charged topic.

    All stories written with an agenda, whether you agree with the agenda or not, tend to sound forced and opinionated and in-your-face. That would probably be my main criticism of this book. When you've had to spend your whole life defending your choices to others, you come off sounding, um...defensive. And maybe a bit rude. I don't think that wins you any friends in the other camp, or helps you to change people's minds about a emotionally-charged topic.

    This book did what all good books do. It made me think.

    Anyone who knows me well knows that I have some pretty strong views of marriage (in the way it relates to me and my hopes and dreams.) I also believe that everyone else has strong views of marriage, and that everyone else must decide what is right for them, what works for them and how it relates to their hopes and dreams.

    In essence, this is the journey you take when reading this book. Terry and Dan are trying to decide what marriage is to them, how it will define them and what they want to get out of it, if anything. Everyone who considers marriage must do the same. What makes me sad is that their journey is mired by and complicated by politics and religion and everyone else's opinions about what they should do, what they can do, and what it means to all other marriages in the world.

    The three things that struck me most:

    1. All successful marriages end in death. If one or the other of you didn't die, you have failed at marriage. This seems like the silliest thing in the world.

    2. Most marriages are defined by monogamy. I, too, fall prey to this assumption. The author made me seriously rethink this definition, even though if I ever chose to marry, this would be one way that I would define my marriage.

    3. Canada sounds awesome.

    P.S. The small picture: This edition had typos galore. I mean, really, it was just sad.

    For children, promises are a deadly serious business because it's all they really have. They don't own anything, they don't control anything. The promises their parents make them are all they've got. And while no parent can keep every promise he makes - no child can either - your credibility as a parent rests on a promises-kept-to-promises-broken ranking that your child carries around in his head. Keep more than you break, and you're a parent in good standing. Break more than you keep and you're in trouble.

    She somehow manages to stay sunny and upbeat while expecting the worst and praying for the best.

    By 'myth' I don't mean 'lie,' I mean a story a culture uses to explain itself to itself.

    The Straight Lifestyle was only "straight" because gay people weren't allowed to form lasting relationships, or to have families, things we weren't allowed to do because for centuries straight people insisted we were incapable of it.

  • Ana

    Read it in a day. It was so engrossing, filled with humor and it highlighted how much our idea of commitment has evolved and will continue to evolve. You really see the differences when comparing the straight ideal of marriage (perfected to the point of discomfort) and the gay ideal (testing the waters and adapting old traditions).

  • Kasia

    Two gays in committed relationships don't want to get married because they don't want to act "straight". What follows are laugh out loud adventures of those two homos as they navigate through life and parenthood while trying to avoid their large republican conservative families.

    And they have a gay dog whose original name was Pee-R!

  • Christiana

    Dan Savage reminds me of that guy at a party. You know, the guy who starts talking and seems pretty interesting. You heard about him from your friends and his life is atypical. You wouldn't mind hearing a little about it. But then he opens his mouth and you realize how self-congratulatory he is and that (Dan hopes) you're just there to marvel at him. Suddenly, you can't get away. You search over his shoulder while he drones on, looking for an escape method, but no one comes. He doesn't even noti

    Dan Savage reminds me of that guy at a party. You know, the guy who starts talking and seems pretty interesting. You heard about him from your friends and his life is atypical. You wouldn't mind hearing a little about it. But then he opens his mouth and you realize how self-congratulatory he is and that (Dan hopes) you're just there to marvel at him. Suddenly, you can't get away. You search over his shoulder while he drones on, looking for an escape method, but no one comes. He doesn't even notice your lack of interest and negative body language, he just plows on. He manages to alienate you (even though you agree with a lot of his core beliefs!) by picking on EVERYONE, even people who agree with him. And he manages to say it three different ways. Because of this, I am unsure who Savage wrote this book for.

    There's a point where Dan Savage mocks Catholics, saying that they go to church service and then go right on using contraceptives. He then goes on to say (in a different part of the book) Catholics are a big part of the problems affecting homosexuals because everyone follows the rules to the t. No, Dan, you can't have it both ways. And in the process, no one wants to understand your thought process anymore after you refuse to understand other people's points of views and systems.

    Listen, I think Dan Savage is great, even if it doesn't sound like it. I love the It Gets Better Project and that it exists. I think his life sounds pretty great. I'm glad he's around. I just don't ever want to read his books (especially not on audio, it was like the man kept yelling at me in the car) ever again.

  • Laura

    DNF’ing this one. I like Dan Savage, but this is somehow very dull.

  • Sarah

    I only read a few chapters of this before I put it down. I went into it knowing I had mixed feelings about Savage, and this book only confirmed them. Ive laughed and applauded plenty of his articles but, somewhat expectedly, it didn't take long after starting this book before I just got sick of reading his negativity, his jabs at overweight people, his derogatory use of the word "pussy" etc. I'm sure he would just mock me for being overly sensitive and PC but his book just wasn't a world I wante

    I only read a few chapters of this before I put it down. I went into it knowing I had mixed feelings about Savage, and this book only confirmed them. Ive laughed and applauded plenty of his articles but, somewhat expectedly, it didn't take long after starting this book before I just got sick of reading his negativity, his jabs at overweight people, his derogatory use of the word "pussy" etc. I'm sure he would just mock me for being overly sensitive and PC but his book just wasn't a world I wanted to spend any more time in.

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