Here’s all I know about being cool: there is too much cachet in being contrary. Apparently, there’s nothing cool about enthusiasm or support, but it is the coolest thing to denigrate and dismiss. Oh, does everyone like Wes Anderson? Here’s why I HATE him! Is that show Girls good? No, it’s TERRIBLE! Is it supposed to get warmer out soon? I hope not, pleasant weather SUCKS ASS!
I bring up this trend because I’m definitely guilty of participating in it. If something gets too popular, I immediately grow suspicious of its appeal. Instead of thinking, “This many people can’t be wrong!” I think, “I can’t way to prove how wrong this many people are!” For instance, I’ll never understand that show How I Met Your Mother, but it gets huge ratings. Am I wrong for disliking this show, or is everyone else wrong for liking it? The truth is, of course, that there is no wrong or right, it comes down to personal preference.
With this preamble almost complete, I hope that anyone reading this entry will take the viewpoints herein as a difference of opinion and not a denigration or a dismissal of the beliefs and attitudes of others. I don’t mean to be contrary or deliberately “on the wrong side” of this topic just to stand out and/or be cool. I hold the following beliefs for myself only and my attitudes on this issue have no bearing on how I feel about you. I hope I’m being clear here.
Dream: Never get married.
Goal: Achievable. By some lucky roll of the dice, my partner of eight years shares my views on this topic. We love when other people get married. We love going to weddings. We love the speeches and the dancing and the emotion of it all. We just don’t want it for ourselves. But we might change our mind. Maybe a change in the political climate would mean that our rights as a common-law same sex couple would not be the same as a married same sex couple. If, by not being married, either Jon or I would have difficulty in terms of our legal rights, we’d get hitched tomorrow. If we lived in the US or ever have to move there for a professional opportunity or something, we’d want the legal recognition that comes with marriage there (in some states, anyway). But right now, as it stands, we’ll both settle for the “always a bridesmaid” label and here’s why:
Plan: Avoid taking part in the institution of marriage by articulating exactly why it doesn't work (for us! Doesn't work for us! For you, it quite possibly works perfectly). I would not like to get married because:
$. Weddings are so goddamned expensive. According to a survey in Weddingbells magazine (my favourite ‘zine next to Sleddingballs), the average cost of a wedding in Canada in 2013 is $32,358. That’s the down payment on a house! That’s a nice car! That’s a fresh pack of gum every single day for an entire life! I know your wedding was cheaper. I know there are great cost-cutting measures like getting your cousin to officiate and making a bouquet out of garbage, but you know the best money-saving tip there is for a wedding? Not having a wedding. The Doc makes good money, and I make… money, but putting so much of towards a ceremony that’s over in a day hardly seems prudent.
Tradition. I feel really shitty not leaping at the chance to get married as a gay person because so many people fought and are fighting so hard for my right to do so. As I’ve said, as it pertains to legal rights and security, I’m so absolutely thrilled that the option is available. But I think a few generations of gay weddings have to go by before there can truly be gay weddings. As it stands in western culture, so much of marriage is disappointingly archaic. A father symbolically giving a bride to a groom is so absolutely creepy, if you think about it. There’s something so, “she’s yours to take care of now!” about it. Why does the bride have to be “given away” at all? Maybe both parents should walk the bride and the groom to each other. Maybe parents should steer clear of the aisle entirely and the bride and groom can walk down it together! Why is there an aisle, anyway? Also important to note is that neither one of us is particularly religious nor are our families. We don’t feel incomplete without making a covenant before God or anything, but that feeling could change, too.
More troubling than the wedding ceremony traditions are the roles that marriage still carry in 2014. Being someone’s spouse seems to take away a certain autonomy to both parties. His reckless spending destroys her credit rating. Her car accident increases his deductible. What the hell is that about? And parenting without being married is still seen in many circles as raising a child at a deficit, but why? Again, I think what I’m circling back to is a gay issue. We just don’t have to deal with ancient gender stereotypes that don’t make any sense. Society places a pretty high premium on men and women uniting in marriage, but a man needs a husband like a fish needs a bicycle. There’s nothing Jon and I stand to gain by marrying each other that we don’t have already. If we were to wed, there’d only be one unique opportunity open to us that is currently denied us a couple:
Divorce. I couldn't bear to split up with Jon, but statistically, if we get married, there’s a 40 to 50% chance that we’ll get divorced in turn. It’s so weird and sad to know people my age who have already been through a marriage and the dissolution of that marriage. I know more separated or divorced people than I know married people. And I know this says more about the state of relationships than it does about marriage itself; if Jon and I are meant to ever part company, marriage is no more likely to keep us together in this day and age than the lack of a marriage. But let me ask the following question: If you had to get somewhere and your transportation options were a train that moved quickly but had a 40 percent change of derailing, or a bus that didn’t go as fast but gave you the opportunity to get off at every stop, how many of you would choose the train? Gimme the bus! When I meet couples who have been together for a long time and aren’t married to each other, part of me thinks, “Good for you guys!” For whatever reason, I get more of a sense that the couple want to be together than I do with a couple who has been married for the same amount of time. I’ve heard the argument that the covenant of marriage reinforces commitment to love and fidelity, which may be true, but if a piece of paper is the only thing keeping you in love and faithful, you have bigger issues in your relationship that need to be addressed.
I know I’m skirting around the main issue here, which is that people get married in spite of these roadblocks, knowing what they know about cost and divorce rates and antiquated tradition simply because they love each other that much and darn it, they just want to tie the knot. I love those kinds of weddings, the “let’s just have a good time! Let us be your hosts!” of it all. For this reason, Jon and I want to throw a big party someday; maybe for our ten year anniversary in 2016. A real shindig that says, “We love each other and you guys too!” Something that is uniquely our own and expresses just how lucky we feel to have found each other. And everyone will come (even you!) and we’ll celebrate how much fun it is to get another spin around the sun with great friends, family, and our most significant of others. Isn’t that the coolest thing of all?
PS. If I turn around and get married someday, everybody be cool and pretend I didn’t say any of this stuff.