I started writing this entry last night, sometime after one person I know posted the link to Facebook and several hours before about twelve other people I know posted it, too. While I realize that most of the people who are posting it are probably reading the piece as a celebration of marriage (possibly after following a link that read like a condemnation of marriage, oh, you tricky author!) and that’s a nice thing to do and because of that I am not saying that these people I know are wrong, but for the sake of full disclosure, here’s my nearly 24-hours-old take on it:
What? I mean, seriously, what?
It seems like a simple reaction, but I assure you that it came after many minutes of me rolling my eyes at the constant self-congratulatory attitude of people who write these kinds of articles, as well as at their implication that getting married and having kids is a daring, unconventional path for someone in the First World to take. I’ve said before and totally mean that I have no problem with people who get married – some people want to, some people don’t. And that’s fine. But I don’t think my decision to not get married is any nobler than someone who does (or vice versa), and I bristle at people who claim that getting married (or having kids, and that’s why mommy bloggers make my fingers want to gouge things) proves their willingness to transcend whatever immature, selfish impulses I’m apparently indulging in what is clearly my latent adolescence.
But maybe I have a complex, right, and this single article just rubbed me the wrong way. No. You’re wrong. Every single goddamn article on the topic reads like this, and when you already spend most of your adult life being asked by both acquaintances and complete fucking strangers about your plans to get married and have babies and then facing the stupefied reaction when you say you have no such plans, seeing yet another article written by yet another person with the exact same sense of marital superiority, I’m sorry, but it gets to be a little exhausting.
And while we’re on the topic of marital superiority, I assure you that it’s not just marital. In general, people love feeling superior about their life decisions, which is why they diagnose themselves with weird food allergies and claim they feel so much better after cutting out bread or eggs, or why they still make those batshit inspiration boards and read The Secret and tell their friends it works. People in general need to understand that we are all mostly terrible at making decisions, and that if we’re being really honest about it, the times we can truly congratulate ourselves are probably far fewer than the times we should be saying “Well, that was a mistake.”
Aside from the shit-eating tone of the article (and remember when your parents told you that it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it?), I’ve got a problem with the message, which is that marriage isn’t for you. It’s not about you wanting to get married, or you knowing that marriage is a commitment you are up to making. Marriage is actually for the person you’re marrying, and about fulfilling your own desire to make them happy. And if getting married will make them happy, then you’d best saddle up and do it.
Just…just think about that for a second. What this article is telling you is that even though you don’t want to get married, or are unsure that you are fit to be someone’s partner for life, too fucking bad because if you really love the person you’re with, you’ll do whatever they say, no matter how you feel about it. No matter how it affects your life or, by extension, what will legally become the rest of their lives, too. This article is telling you to ignore any gut feelings you have about a decision that will affect how you live your entire life from here on out. It is telling you that what you want for yourself is really not that big of a deal.
Is that not fucking CRAZY?
In a perfect world, yes, we should all be such selfless, generous, beautiful people. But we’re not. We are so deeply awful and fucked up, and despite our best intentions towards the people we love for whatever length of time that lasts (for some people it’s forever, for way more people it’s not), we can make huge mistakes that affect more lives than just ours or our partners (I’m mostly thinking of children, because “let’s stay together for the kids” works so well). Getting married just because the person you love wants to is about as logical as getting married because most of your friends are doing it, or because that’s just what you’re supposed to do once you’ve been together for X amount of years. It’s about as logical as having kids because you finally figured out how to keep a houseplant alive.
It is insane to champion this as a reason to get married, or worse, as the validation for your existing marriage. I mean, you’re allowed to get married for whatever reasons you want, but I find that my happiest married friends are the ones who genuinely love and respect one another, and treat their lives together as a mutual adventure. Which it should be. Not just, you know, one person dragging the other one along, the dragee passive-aggressively sighing “I guess if you want to” for the next several years. It should not be the death of two individual selves for the sake of one unit. Wanting to lose yourself isn’t a reason to get married, it’s a reason to join a cult.
So I guess if you want to congratulate yourself on your endless capacity to love another person and your willingness to sacrifice what you really want and quash any misgivings you might have about your ability to do that for the rest of your life, go right ahead! Let some self-righteous Internet turd tell you what to do! I’m sure you’ll all be very happy together.