Will You Bury Me?
Your assessment of the situation in “Hopeless Is More” seemed
way off. (The guy wasn’t ready for commitment, but said it killed
him to see his girlfriend “explore dating other people.” To
you, this meant she wanted to have sex with a lot of guys who weren’t
him.) It sounds like this jerk had typical male marriage phobia -- like
my boyfriend of eight years. Although I was happy with our relationship,
I wanted to take the next step. After eight years and no ring, I said
we needed to open up our relationship and date others. I didn’t
want sexual variety; I was just getting old waiting for him to make up
his frigging mind about marriage, and he needed to be pushed. It sounds
like this idiot needed the same prodding. I hope he’s in as much
pain as he put her through!
--Eight Long Years
--Eight Long Years
Regarding your complaint about my previous column; helloooo, reading comprehension -- it was the girl who wasn’t ready for the committed relationship. Apparently, you’re so angry that your boyfriend was slow to bend to your will that you’re still seeing everything through rage-colored glasses. Had I written a column about getting red wine stains out of a white rug (remove the rug from your house and replace it with a new white rug), you’d be all over the hidden theme about men who are jerks because they won’t commit.
You take the Attila the Hun approach to love. After casting your boyfriend in the role of Europe, you marched all over him until he surrendered, and finally agreed to fork over the rock. Granted, you did it in the name of love, as in, “I love you so much that I don’t care what you want, and I’m going to make your life a living hell until you make me your wife.” Charming.
But, you just wanted to take your “happy” relationship to the next step. Hmmm...what is the step after happy? Drooling with joy? Working yourself into a seizure from the never-ending glee? Sure, marriage is what we’re all supposed to want. That’s why people ask “Do I hear wedding bells?” not “Do I hear living together bells?” But, if you don’t want kids, and aren’t seeking a husband to pick up where daddy left off in the allowance department, does marriage really make sense? Looking at it from a haircut perspective; what if you’d settled on the mullet you had in 1984 as your forever look? Who’s to say you won’t outgrow the person who looked so “forever” on the day you went under the scissors for Camaro hair?
These days, if you eat your green beans and jog in place while changing channels, marriage could end up being not just an institution, but a penal institution. According to UCLA gerontologist Roy Walford, healthy people now in their 30s could live to be a rather kicky 120. In other words, you and the man you dragged to the altar could be facing 90 more years together. (Is there anybody in the universe who can remain interesting to another person for that long?) It’s a far cry from the marriage span in 1550s England. As peasants back then (according to data from historians R.A. Houston and Lawrence Stone), you two would likely have had about seven years together before one of you died in childbirth or from something bubonic. For this reason, Lawrence Stone views modern divorce as “little more than a functional substitute for death.”
You always hear people brag, “Oh, my grandparents were miserable for 50 years, but they stuck it out anyway.” This is a good thing? My concept of a great relationship is two people who have more fun together and are better together than they are alone. When it stops being that, why keep on keeping on? I actually know a very cool couple in their 70s who amicably divorced after their marriage got stagnant. They had the guts to go live life instead of settling for “security” -- a polite way of saying you want a spouse around to fasten your adult diapers. Realistically, there’s no telling how long your spouse will be with you, so you’d better save enough money to hire a pricey diaper nurse.
Since you’ve already bullied your way into marital foreverhood, turn your thoughts to how you might stay there. Treat your marriage license like a driver’s license -- renewable every couple of years -- and you might be inspired to put as much effort into your marriage as you did into making the guy propose. That, and a series of anger management classes, could do the trick. Unfortunately, you’ve already eliminated the single best way to keep from getting divorced -- avoid getting married at all.
Copyright ©2004, Amy Alkon, from her syndicated column, "The Advice Goddess," which appears in over 100 papers across the U.S. and Canada. All rights reserved.