Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Re-Working the Marriage Thing

I was talking to an old friend the other day who said, "I went to see 'I Love You, Man' on a date, and there's a lot of Rush references. I think you'd like it."

"Date?" was my response.

"You know I'm divorced, right?"


This was the first I had heard. And for some reason, this wierded me out. not that I found out at this late juncture, but that she was actually divorced. That's why I went through that sort of elaborate way of telling you about the revelation of the divorce of someone you probably don't even know. I was trying to drive it home.

It seemed my friend had reconciled everything and was enjoying a bit of the single life (and she did tell me to let everyone know that she was now having sex with a model.) of course, I cannot fault anyone for that, but it made me think about marriage, a lot more than I have in awhile. Which is to say, I thought about it some.

First off, I attended this friend's wedding years ago, along with maybe a dozen other people. it was a really small affair in a restaurant on the South Shore. No church, no culty, religious ridiculousness. Just a few people and some vows. Because it was so small, I was flattered to be invited at all, and even more excited when I asked if I could bring my girlfriend at the time, and my friend said, "Of course."

Due to the nature of the ceremony, this stands out as one of the more enjoyable weddings I've ever been to. No offense to anyone whose wedding I've attended, but most of your ceremonies sort of blend together eventually. Your receptions are all fantastic, however.

My friend and I agreed that marriage may not really work anymore. I've said this before, but marriage was devised and conceived at a time when fifty was considered elderly, so someone got married young, and when one of them died, they were done. Plus, divorce wasn't really an option back then. You just had to grin and bear it, and the guy was probably messing around anyway and there was nothing the woman could say. It was certainly a man's world.

But even leaving fidelity out of it, let's just talk about living and dealing with someone for 40-50 years. I don't know how anybody does it, really, but the few marriages I know that do work, the couple usually defies the laws of tradition in a few small ways, like separate bank accounts for example. Or as my divorced friend put it, "Now I don't have to hide the receipt when I buy a $200 pair of jeans." Maybe I have to chnage my definition of "work," but I haven't had to hide a receipt since, well, ever.

We were joking around, of course, but those tiny adjustments mean for a lot less rancor in the marriage, at least as far as I can observe as an outsider. Today's society doesn't blend with marriage, I think (I'll point again to the ridiculously-high divorce rate.) There are too many temptations, too many options, too much independence.

Obviously, I have never been married, but I got "fake" married in Vegas once. "Fake" because I paid for the license, but there was no ceremoney. I just had a guy sign his name to the license and told everyone I was married. Now, I never considered myself married, and have no idea where my "wife" is right now, but very often when I tell that story, people say, "You got the license, I think you're married." However, these same people will try to explain to me that marriage is not just a piece of paper. And on that point, I can agree with them. I'm not married because I haven't seen or thought about my fake wife in years. Somewhere there is a piece of paper with our names on it, but who cares?

So, here's the rub; I'm not against marriage, just in the traditional sense. And were I a marriage counselor, I would caution against the traditional marriage. Truly, I don't have the answers, though. And I'm willing to bet no one else does, either. Except maybe my divorced friend, who is having sex with models and informed me that she had a dinner of a candy bar and a diet coke that night. Maybe, like all things, a good marriage is in the eyes of the beholder, but I'll take that dinner any time.

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