I used to watch TLC's Say Yes to the Dress, the bridal TV show dedicated to finding the perfect wedding dress. Needless to say, it was the first series I cancelled off of my TiVo when I moved out of my last relationship.
I was always confused when the blushing bride would sit down and gush about her future husband as a picture of him flashed on the right-hand side of the screen, right above the dress budget of thousands of dollars.
"I'm just so lucky," they all inevitably said.
Really? I thought as I pushed more popcorn into my mouth. Because if I married my current boyfriend, I would be marrying an alcoholic who is incapable being a genuine human being and sometimes puts his hands on me. That doesn't make me feel lucky at all. I'd be all sitting in front of that camera saying, 'I want to change a bazillion things about my fiance, including everything about him, but he'll do, I guess.'
Christopher asked me the other night about marriage.
Instead of jumping up and down shouting 'Yes, please!' like I really wanted, I shrugged, "I don't know. I think it sounds lovely and something I eventually would like to be a part of."
Then Christopher launches into his problem with marriage, like the proper Libertarian he is. Essentially, the government wants to control people and ruin their lives through marriage. "But I have no problem staying monogamous in a long-term relationship, I just don't want the legal contract," he finished.
What the fuck ever. I've heard this argument from conspiracy theorists before- mainly commitment-phobic seniors in college and a specific alcoholic. I am sick to death of this stupid argument.
Christopher gave me the opportunity to argue why I did want marriage. And because his arguments where governmentally centered, I responded in kind.
- The government wants you to be married. That's why they set up a tax break just for married people.
- You get your spouse's social security benefit when he/she dies.
- You also inherit 401ks tax free.
- And if marriage was bad, then why is the government trying to keep the gays out?
I felt pleased with myself for giving an answer that was based on logic and not emotion. But this invariably backfired on me.
"I can't believe the only reason you want to get married is for the tax break," he snorted. "It's the first thing you said, so it is your main reason."
I tried arguing that he stated he didn't have a problem with monogamy, just the legal contract, so my response was also based on the legal contract part. He stayed with his original response about my callousness for talking about death benefits. It was a tricky conversation for me, even saying the word "marriage" to a new boyfriend and trying not to scare him off at the same time.
"With your background of your parents' divorces, I can't believe you would even want it," he pointed out.
"I'm not talking about divorce," I corrected. "I'm talking about marriage. You seem to think the two are interchangeable."
I then launched into some stat that blames the baby-boomer generation for the divorce rate, followed by another stat about rate of divorce on couples who wed after 25. I believe in marriage because I have to. Because the alternative is too depressing for me to get out of bed in the morning. I'm making different, smarter choices than my parents, so I will be different. M-Joy says so, my therapist says so, and my mom says so.
And then I did something that is completely uncharacteristic of me. I fled the living room in a flurry of tears and flopped down on my bed. I felt like the one thing I believed in was being attacked. I felt like everything in my life is attached to a struggle. I was beginning to feel lucky being with Christopher again, but this conversation led me to believe anything more with him would be an uphill battle. One I'm too exhausted to fight at the moment.
Christopher followed me into the bedroom and quietly spooned me. After a moment he said,"Alright, it's negotiable."
I guess I won that round, but I didn't feel any better. I knew the truth. I would never be the blushing bride who declares herself lucky in love. I've always had the feeling that I'm never going to get married ever since my father moved out of our house and the boys in elementary school would bully me until I cried. No one's ever going to love me enough to declare so legally.