Man Law #70: Women Want a Wedding, Not A Marriage.
“I think there should be a law against anyone getting married under 35.” – Tom Hanks, New York Times article published in 1988. Married for the past 22 years.
For the record, I’m going to start this post off by stating that I want to get married. I want to have kids, raise a family, the whole 9 yards, the Full Monty. I do not have anything against the institution of marriage per se or against monogamy. I simply think that one should wait until they are of an age where they feel they have experienced enough of life before trotting down the aisle. I want my decision to get married based on my personal choice and not from pressure from the girl who I’ve been dating or a fear of growing old and lonely. Personally, I don’t believe that this can happen before you turn 30. If you are 21 or 22, and have dated the same guy or girl for a few years and feel like the only thing left for you to do is get married, by all means, go for it if you feel that it is right. However, the period of getting married at 20 and staying married to that person for 30-40 years has pretty much died off and if America or society is ever going to truly mean “Till Death Do Us Part” when we exchange wedding vows, we will have to revisit the whole idea behind matrimony.
So last Sunday I’m channel surfing and came across a fascinating interview with Elizabeth Gilbert on the Diana Rehms Show (Editorial Note: the interview can be played through Windows Media Player). Mrs. Gilbert just released a book entitled “Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage”. Here is a woman who went through a horrible divorce. It really shaked her belief system and she went through a period where she questioned what her original decisions to get married were based on – just WHY she felt the need to get married at an early age. As she states in one interview on NPR that when she was 19, she would stay up until 2 in the morning with the other girls in the dorm and PANIC over how they were going to raise their kids and hold a full-time job. To put this in perspective, the only thing I could think of when I was 19 at 2 in the morning was how to watch the porno I downloaded from Napster without waking up my buddies next door or my roommate. (If you are reading this, Sorry Will, duty calls!)
In the next few paragraphs I hope to give an accurate but brief summarization of two of her musings that really stood out and left an impression on me. Married or not, everyone should listen to the interview. If you are a woman, you need to listen to the entire interview more than anyone and leave us poor guys at peace. So, sit down, grab some coffee, listen to the interview and think about this stuff before you find yourself walking down the aisle wondering who the person is standing next to you that you are about to live the rest of your life with…
Women want a wedding and not necessarily to get married. Almost as soon as little Suzy learns to walk and starts reading, she starts planning her wedding. Now this isn’t ALL women, but a large majority actively think about these types of things. It’s no wonder that America is lost when it comes to marriage. She is looking for a man to fill a role, a position. You can picture the Craigslist advertisement: “Hey, we have a job opening for a man with these qualifications. Send resumes AND references to firstname.lastname@example.org ). I remember living in the dorm rooms and seeing some of the girls with subscriptions to Bridal Guide. There’s only one problem with that equation, you need a boyfriend first! Now, not all girls are like this and many have a strong, more realistic head on their shoulders. As one of my girl friends, who I shall call “Trixie” puts it, “I went to college to get a BS, not a MRS.” To hear Elizabeth Gilbert talk about the inspiration behind this law, skip to around the 15th minute in the interview. (Ladies, that means you.)
To many women, marriage means that they have been chosen. It signifies that out of the pot of women of every shape, size, and color, that she has been chosen as being worthy of someone’s love and attention. She has been PICKED from the crowd. In some respects, this would make anyone feel special. In Elementary School, No one wanted to be the last person picked on the dodge ball team. The faster someone chose you, the better you were. In many ways, we never grow out of this childish way of looking at things. We carry this belief system into early adulthood. The faster we finish school, get a high paying job, get married and have kids, that we are somehow beating the rest of the competition. And then what? We are subconsciously programming ourselves to look for outside validation. Gentlemen, for those ladies out there accusing you of wanting to be a bachelor for life or being single, share with them the fact that it is statistically proven that the longer you wait to get married, the greater the likelihood of staying together. Why do you think that is? Maybe marrying the second or third person you ever slept with wasn’t the best idea after all. At least wait until number five or six.
Now, prior to the twentieth century there was a very REAL reason for getting married early. If the average life span was 35, you couldn’t afford to wait until after your law degree to have kids if you were a woman. But in 2010, we are experiencing the longest life expectancies ever. You have at least two solid marriages to prepare for in your life so SLOW DOWN! That’s one marriage to have kids in, and one marriage to actually be happy in…but NOT if you wait, you can have your cake and eat it too. For those of you who can’t, go for it, maybe you can break the mold. Prove me wrong.
On a side note, I was recently promoted to another position within the company. I received an e-mail from my Mother today (1/23/2010) congratulating me on “…doubling my salary in three years…” but she was quick to point out “Another 20k and you can finally get married…”
Thanks Mom, I love you too.