To have and to hold until...the buzz wears off

On the topic of marriage--saving or destroying--I don't understand the point of getting married if you're not going to stick with it. Maybe that sounds incredibly juvenile, but you didn't have this whole big $15,000 ceremony with people jetting in from around the country to prove to the world you were in love. The people who mattered already knew that. You did it to take it to the next level, to celebrate the commitment, to stand up in front of family and friends and co-workers you felt obligated to invite and say "I love this person so much, I want to be with them for the rest of my life." If it was just "I love this person so much", it'd be okay to split up if/when that changed. But the reason you started spending all your free time surveying card stock samples, was the commitment piece of it. The key idea was you wanted to swear to stay with it forever. Love changes. It's capricious. You can be wildly in love without commitment or intensely committed without love. But love wasn't the main point. It was the idea of "creating kinship" that drew you to it. Making the relationship permanent. Making the person a part of your family.

You don't go into it with the mind set of "I'll stay with this as long as it is fun and amazing and I feel supported and I am free to be me and every day is a new adventure." Do you? I mean how can you say, "I'm just not feeling it"? You can say that about a movie you walk out of, a party you want to leave, even a job or a neighborhood, but not a family member. Just because what he said was not the funniest thing you heard that day and her eccentricities are starting to grate on you and just because you don't make a cute couple anymore, you can't get out of it. You are bound together. Better or worse. What part did you miss? Were you asleep during the ceremony? Did no one ever explain this to you?

I think having doubts about a person is okay. You can still get married even if you're not 100% sure you found "the one" or he or she is the ideal mate. But you can't get married if you have any doubts that you might one day want to leave. You have to know going into it that you won't change your mind. That's the whole friggin' point. Or else at the very least issue a disclaimer. I mean you're not a 5-year old playing Cinderella. Your friends are not dressing up as Gus and Jaq. You and someone else whose shaving habits perhaps already annoyed you decided you wanted to share a life together, have a family in whatever way was meaningful to you -- with kids or without, with cats, dogs, goldfish, a sprawling 5-bedroom house, a high-rise in Dubai or a tent in Jim's parents' backyard. The only thing that mattered was barring physical or mental abuse you were not going to leave. Ever. Period. If that was ever in question why did you argue over Lily of the Valley bouquets? Why did you order 10 pounds of spanikopita? Why did you get others involved? You could have just gone steady. Or exchanged rings and popped a bottle of champagne and texted everybody a photo. Then if you broke up you'd be breaking a promise to each other and maybe to G*d but you wouldn't owe anybody a "Just kidding".

This is not in defense of never getting married. In my case I feel like friends and family came to enough gigs over the years. They don't need to watch me and Alex dance to "It's Raining Men" on top of that. Plus we're not religious. We don't look good dressed up. We have more faith in music than vows and we have my grandmother's great-working blender from the 50s that I use nearly every day. So we haven't walked down the aisle. But it wasn't a definite decision against. It's just something we haven't decided to do. Just like we haven't moved to Oklahoma. It just hasn't really come up. Nothing against Oklahoma or people who choose to move there. And unless they made us dress up and watch them move and sit through 500 pictures of the cake they ate that day, they don't need to stay there.

On that note, I'm off to my cousin's wedding on the coast of South Carolina. See ya soon.

(To other half of anonymous X: I know you told me not to blog in anger, but I've thought all these things for a long time. Still, your x-wife, you know, she's really such an asshole.)


  1. "to stand up in front of family and friends and co-workers you felt you had to invite" So true.

    By the way, I've been feeling guilty since your last post, as I am one of the few human beings on earth who really does just sleep until I wake up just about every day. I want you to know that I appreciate it every day; it's pretty much the best thing that's ever happened to me, even when I awake, realize it's after 11, and hope no one important has emailed me and is waiting for a response.

  2. The memory of my wedding day still keeps a warm spot in my heart, even when anger and disillusion threaten my very soul. Those moments in the night, when night itself seems it may never end, that is when it is my light at the end of the tunnel.

    Those people I invited, I did not have to invite (easy for me since I don't care what people think about me). Those people watched us become a couple, and in their presence, agreed to support us in that.

    I think it's a difficult thing to understand if you haven't been there - like childbirth, or being a mother and how no baby is ugly. Or maybe it's difficult to understand if you haven't done it right, or with the right person. But it's been 14 years and I still remember that day and smile.

    And I'm pretty sure no one goes into marriage intending it to be "for now" - haha. But perhaps I'm naive.

  3. This is great!

    Do people question you often about that whole issue now that Wally is around? It is so odd to me how people see this as a necessary standard in our country...granted, I chose to do it. In Quebec, hardly anyone of our generation gets married. I think it is sort of an F*you to the church for them, but go for it!

    At the same time, I do love being married. I think having parents and in-laws who have worked hard at marriage and still value and support each other tremendously almost 50 years later, gives me a fairly hopeful impression of it. I also can't inagine my father having gone through the last 5 years with anyone other than my Mom or alone for that matter. I want that person who has known me forever when I am older and my body and mind begin to give way. Would humans really choose to stay with the same person for that long without a "formal" commitment. I have trouble picturing most men I know with an attention span to do so. You do have to be committed to grow and change with that person and expect that they will transform and not be the "same" person that you married X number of years ago.

    Whatever the case, it should be a very conscious personal choice...that each person should have the right to make (gay or straight) and no one should be judged whether they buy into it or not. Also, I am sorry that I made you get all dressed up and witness our "attention-getting antics". I blame my over the top, catholic husband for that one!

    P.S. I am now picturing sequined, spandex, neon costumes and West Concord Dance Academy recitals thanks to your "It's Raining Men" reference.

    Have fun at the wedding!

  4. I think weddings are way too over the top also, and yes I have done it, albeit after 11 years together and four kids. We have now been 'married' for just over a year.
    We committed to each other when we had our first child and reaffirmed with each child that came after, then again when we signed the mortgage papers.
    The only reason we actually got wed in the end was because our kids were old enough to have an opinion and they wanted us to be married.
    Our 'wedding' was a party first and foremost in our heads. An expensive party (nowhere near $15k though), but more like a family and friends reunion rather than anything glamourous or overly ritualised (marriage celebrant in a park, no speeches, no first dance, just fun).
    Now that we've done it, absolutely NOTHING has changed for us. NOTHING. We don't feel different, haven't changed any aspect of our lives or behaviour. I don't see what the big deal is if you are already in a committed relationship.
    Oh, and I walked down the aisle, or the grass path, to Flathead by The Fratellis, the 'Fo walked down the aisle too, to Low Rider by George Lopez. Music is boss.

  5. Oh, I think if "it's raining men" is the wedding march, your readers may require you and A to get married, whether you like it or not. And the rest is spot on, right down to Oklahoma, right down to the parenthetical remarks.

  6. Evie - you shouldn't feel remotely guilty for sleeping until you naturally wake up. I'd guess most people reading this can only do that on weekends, if at all, so it's good you appreciate that. But your honesty in relaying that info, like your unhealthy obsession with TV, is really refreshing!

    Rhonda, I think you're right it's difficult to understand if you haven't done it. I really enjoy hearing the 3 perspectives on it from people who have - Rhonda/Roo & Moo/ Cookie Monster in Therapy -- (I realize how crazy that sounds). Heather, it's a great point about wanting someone who has known you and been with you to be there when you're older. I am curious about that too -- would most people stay without that formal commitment? And if they would not, I agree that it has tremendous benefits. I think overall we are happier with fewer choices, more boundaries (like kids). I am laughing over West Concord Dance imagery -- Dancing on the Ceiling was our first recital song, right? It's a blur after that tho I remember Paula Abdul at one point, Cold-Hearted Snake. Laughing, laughing, laughing at "It's Raining Men" as wedding march. Cookie - love how you chose to do it. That's a different approach -- letting kids vote on it! Never heard of that before. How about others? Did life change after marriage?

  7. Wow. I really needed to read that. A good kick in the the ass! I especially liked the point about your partner becoming a family member - it's a good analogy, because your family stays your family, forever.

    However, I would think that most people enter marriage believing - at least hoping - it will be forever. I don't think most people agree to get married thinking that someday they may want to change their minds. Weddings ARE expensive, divorce is messy & traumatizing - it seems easier to just stay married, but people often see their marriage as becoming so unbearable that they're willing to undergo the embarrassment, expense & emotional trauma to split up. Unfortunately, I think most people just don't realize how hard marriage is. They hear "for better" but not "for worse." They don't understand that love is not just romance, but hard work & commitment. They think perhaps they've changed, grown apart, made a mistake, etc. All those things are possible, but people also have to realize that feelings are fickle - I like the word you used, "capricious" - and not always to be trusted. You can "fall out" of love just as easily as you fall into it, but you can also fall in love again after you feel like you've already fallen out. That is the roller-coaster ride of marriage, or any committed relationship. When it comes down to it, whether or not people stay together depends on their values. So, I think rather than asking ourselves if we "feel" like we are in love, we have to ask ourselves what our values are, if we've lost sight of them, and if they've changed - why? For good reason? Did we lose touch with ourselves? Or did we evolve into better selves, and perhaps your partner is not evolving with you? So many questions to ask, but I'm digressing and it would be best to save this for another conversation.

    I think it's also important to mention the legal benefits of getting married. As as a married couple, you receive 1000-something new rights - insurance, tax breaks, social security benefits, etc. I think it's important to think about - protection and security become more important as we get older, especially when you are denied them. I heard a recent story about a gay man and his partner who had been together for most of their lives. The partner died recently, a Vietnam war veteran, but his surviving partner could not receive his veteran benefits because they were not legally married. The sad thing is that a week later, gay marriage was legalized in their state. Now the surviving partner is destitute, extra stress he has to deal with on top of losing the love of his life.

    I think about stories like this, especially stories about gay people not being able to make decisions about their partners being on life support or even visit them in the hospital - because only "kin" are allowed to visit - and it makes me think about what a privilege marriage is, and how it should be a right for everyone.

  8. Good point about the tax benefits! Especially if one of you earns more than the other.

  9. It's a great point about falling back in love after falling out. I agree with that. Sometimes I don't think that way about shared values. Sometimes it seems to me we stay living or married with the person whose day-to-day way of behaving fits best with ours. Remembering to buy toilet paper. Not minding being woken up in the middle of the night. Tiny stuff, but so much hinges on being able to make it work in those tiny ways. Of course that's not why you came together in the first place. Thanks everyone for bringing up gay marriage and how marriage should be open to everyone. It was actually one half of a gay couple that recently questioned me about not getting married and I think they were hoping our reasons were somehow aligned with their cause. That'd be cooler, but I don't think it's factored in personally to our not getting married. Hein, partner not evolving with you is another great point to raise. How does one manage that? Thinking about some of these comments, I'm starting to see some reason to want to take a "leap of faith", to hope that the union will last and try to make it work. But I also like the idea of staying together out of a constant renewed choice rather than default mode or path of least resistance (i.e., avoiding messiness of split). It's an interesting question, I'd love to hear more thoughts.

  10. Rachel, that's a really good point about the day-to-day being important. I realized that I view even those minute decisions and behaviors as being a part of our value systems! And I totally agree with you about "staying together out of a constant renewed choie rather than default mode or path of least resistance." I think even when you are married, you have to constantly renew your marriage and connect to one another, on a daily basis, in order to make it work. It's important to not get lazy about it, and take each other for granted.

  11. I suppose day-to-day minutiae is connected to values in terms of thinking about the other person first (remembering to buy the toilet paper if you know it really bugs them to run out, etc. -- ha! this is reminding me of facebook joke we had going for a while about couples having personal conversations on each others' walls) and giving emotional support instead of rapid-fire advice, etc. which makes dinner go smoother, dealing with in-laws when you don't want to. Many of those come down to what's more important -- your own immediate needs or the needs of the other person and/or needs of couple. In that way a good partnership is certainly good prep for kids -- putting others' needs first. Very true about how important i tis not to get lazy. It's amazing how much work goes into a connection that could appear easy to others. It's kind of like a great piece of art or athletic feat -- the pros make it look easy. You don't see them sweat. They're sometimes so effortlessly graceful you think watching them, "I could do that."

  12. Rachel, so true! I love the analogy to making art or performing athletic feats. People don't realize it takes practice, practice, practice. Conditioning, training & discipline. So when you're on the field, or having an exhibit, you can really shine! "Effortlessly graceful" - definitely believe that's how we should aspire to do everything in our lives!


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