Why 'I Do?'

by Candice Livingston

Peter's Wedding - Barbara Hendrickson (c) 1991

Only 23% of the U.S. population stays single their entire life. That means most of us will get, are, or have been married at some time. So then why does every man complain about what his woman won't do and every woman complains about what her man does? Why do people get married if it is so terrible? I began to question this idea of men and women spending their lives together when I received an e-mail comparing a wife to a computer program. It concludes with the wish that the user, the husband, had not decided to upgrade from a girlfriend in the first place. It also suggests adding some features to the wife that are desired but lacking such as an uninstall at any time feature or a minimize button.

True, women change when they get married, but so do men. Marriage is like any other step in life. Something that big is going to change a person. The funny thing is, unless you are completely cut off from people, you've been told you may have a terrible mother-in-law, poker night doesn't come before your niece's birthday party, and you'll probably have to do the laundry on occasion. People have been warned; they should be prepared.

Not long after the first e-mail was sent, I received another which was directed more specifically at me as a woman. It was a list of thirty-one stupid men jokes. The specifics of the jokes, funny as they were, are unnecessary. The importance lies in the fact that the jokes were not about men who are stupid, but rather that all men are stupid. If men are so stupid, and the general consensus is such, why do women marry them? But would the jokes be so funny if there wasn't some truth to them? I used to think it was just the people with bad marriages that complain, but I've decided that conclusion is false. There are people that don't complain though, but I have yet to figure out their secret. Maybe they are truly happy, but it's easier to believe they have just given up on the possibility of being so.

I have often wondered if men are given an instruction book at a certain age. I believe they are, and there is no doubt in my mind it includes a section of lines they memorize. My theory was supported recently when two men I work with each told me that if their situations were different (if they weren't married) my boyfriend wouldn't exist. I also think at the top of the page of lines is a note telling them they can be completely confident in using them, because not once did either man stop to wonder if I had any say in the situation. Because I am a woman, unfortunately (for men) I can only clearly see our side of this issue. All I can contribute about the man's point of view is what I have been told and what I perceive. What I do know though is there are two definite sides.

I heard an exchange between a woman and a man recently that helps prove this point. The man was questioning why his girlfriend got so upset about some "innocent" flirting with another woman. Her answer was simple: Women want commitment. Men want to conquer as many women as possible. Women want monogamy.

Now, the only justification I have for including her assumption is that he immediately agreed. From this conversation, I also concluded men want polygamy. Again, my thoughts were validated as I questioned some of the most important men in my life. My grandfather said he could handle having more than one woman so she could cook and clean so my grandmother wouldn't have to. My newlywed brother said he does not need another wife, but would not mind having one. He openly admitted his only reason being sex. My boyfriend of over a year, whenever the subject of a wife comes up, always assures me I will be his " first, favorite, or number one." He's even so generous as to say I'll get him two nights a week and the rest of his wives only one. Men do not want to be tied to one woman. It is as one of these men said, "It's not that we don't love you. It's that we miss the thrill and challenge of dating."

This idea of men not wanting to be committed is not misunderstood; it's simply not understood at all. One guy said he wanted to date other people, but he never did. Another was ready to give up kissing other girls, but not dating them.

Basically, women are always confused. From what I understand, men would be too, but they don't sit and try to understand women. In general, they have just accepted that they never will.

I wondered if men and women get married for sex, yet I've heard too many men say that women stop wanting sex after they get married, and women say that men stop making it enjoyable. Then logically, the answer to good sex would be to stay single. So, I still didn't understand why people tie the knot. Logically, it makes no sense. The two genders are so different; putting them together for any reason except to make more people does not even seem like a reasonable thing to do.

The only thing that makes sense is the emotion of the idea. There's something almost literally in our hearts that brings us together. This is the only explanation why we try so hard. I'm not sure you could even label it as love because that is a word, and this thing that brings us together is completely unexplainable. It's such an individual thing, yet it is also so universal. Like I said. It doesn't make sense. I don't think it ever will, but that's not going to stop us.

Previously published in 'BrainCandy' ezine. All rights reserved by the author.

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