Why get married? Dunno. I honestly did not have a particularly good reason at the moment it occurred to me to, hey, why not tie the knot?
Just like everything else "major" that I've ever done in my life -- having children, buying houses, quitting jobs -- I just did it. Wham, bam, thank you ma'am. And then...I thought about it afterwards. Oops! That was a big one. Perhaps, maybe, I should have given it more thought . Aaahh, no.
I know, this type of approach seems careless, haphazard, and slipshod and maybe it is. It's a wonder my life isn't a shambles but...it isn't.
Something must be said for this close-your-eyes, hold-your-breath-and-take-the-plunge technique of mine because it has worked. Perhaps I intuitively knew that if I thought about it, whatever it was, for too long or too hard, I would become immobilized by fear and common sense and never manage to do anything that didn't come with a warranty.
Actually, I think, in retrospect, that some of my most critical life decisions were made under the influence of rampant PMS, which is a scary thought. Now that I'm cognizant of that fact, I am a little more cautious and less susceptible to the wily beckoning of PMS-induced recklessness. I am not as apt to throw caution to the wind. Along with being more cautious, I am also more boring, predictable and re-spon-si-ble (the baggage that parenting is apt to produce) and that's not necessarily something I'm going to brag about.
There is something to be said for spontaneity and not beating something to death. It worked for me so it can't be all bad. You know you can over-think things. You can over-plan and over-analyze and over-do just about damn near anything. Over-kill. Hey, why not just take the plunge?
I always marveled at my friends who launched full scale attacks in preparation for their weddings. They kept files and index cards and devoted a good chunk of time to wedding planning, not to mention the hideous amounts of money they spent. I thought, this is amazing. It was like having another full-time job or orchestrating opening night at a Broadway show. Man!
On the other hand, there are people like me who invest five minutes tops in making life-altering decisions and somehow it works.
This is how I did it: Bowling alley. Wednesday night. Hump night. Not even drunk. "Hey, Don, you wanna' get married?" "Okay but...if I buy a new suit you can't back out." "Okay. Deal." Three days later, an eight hour drive to a marriage factory, and wham-bam-thank-you-my-man we were married, good as you like.
Hmm...not too stylish, I don't suppose, and rather ridiculous when you think about a 33 year old and a 26 year old 'eloping' but...that's what we did and it "took." Twenty-two years later, we're still hangin'.
Actually, we did get married again, two weeks after our elopement, and friends and family partook in the festivities. It was a little more orthodox or as orthodox as I am capable of getting and we did have a lovely party and got some nice gifts which, of course, is one of the perks of getting married.
But...back to the original premise: Why get married? Hmmm...well, you're probably not going to have an earth shattering epiphany that will help you make this decision. Sometimes you just know that he or she is right. Period. No complex explanation. He smells good and knows how to cuddle and rubs your back and laughs at your inane jokes and listens intently when you talk incessantly about your crappy job.
And maybe, just maybe, it's not the most raucous, turbulent roller coaster ride -- which so many of us naively and mistakenly assume is the definition of hot, passionate, enduring love. Maybe it's cozy and non-stressful and relaxed and comfortable. Perhaps it's actually an environment where you can thrive because you're not caught up in the heebie jeebies of...Where is he? What is he doing? Who is he with?...because you know, even when you don't have any way of knowing for sure, that your partner is a person who can be trusted. This trust frees you up to get on with your life.
Why do we think that our relationships have to be on the edge in order for them to count as the real thing? I know. I've been there. I know what it's like when you can't eat, think, sleep because you're consumed with thoughts about him. Well, that's okay when you're 16, but it can be damned counterproductive when you're an adult and you're trying to keep your head on straight, your job intact, and your kids out of jail.
Oh, it's never as "glam" as you would like to think it to be. But there's a lot to be said for those wretchedly unglamorous times when a person's true character is revealed in spades.
Maybe it's just that: he was there when you were in the throes of labor and feeling like God awful crap and hating him most of all and you knew he was feeling guilty which gave you perverse pleasure and satisfied your desire for vengeance and he didn't take it personally when you told the entire hospital staff that you hated his freaking guts!
Or maybe because, right before rectal surgery he gave you an enema and didn't bat an eye (now that's some man) or he digs the blasted stool out of your toddler's constipated behind and sings a lilting kiddy song while he's at it.
Maybe it's because he literally picks up your deathly ill mother and carries her out to the car, despite her protests, and makes damn sure she gets to the hospital when nobody else could pull this rabbit out of their hat, which saves her life. Or maybe it's because he says, "You know, you're cute" and you know you're not. Well, not quite anymore, but it's nice that he thinks so. Or when he risks frostbite and ventures out into a blizzard with his trusty flashlight trying to locate your daughter's lost tooth in a snow drift and actually succeeds in finding it.
Or maybe it's because he writes you Valentine's love letters on the computer, instead of resorting to Hallmark, and always misspells words which you always point out and which he knows you'll do and then you laugh.
Maybe it is the predictable, which so often bores and frustrates us, that's the cement in a relationship and the elexir that allows us to flourish. Maybe it's precisely that which we avoid in youth that melds us together in midlife and beyond...and that's not all bad.
Perhaps it's knowing, without ever really having to contemplate it, just as you intrinsically know your name and birth date, that he will be there, no matter what, no matter how far or fast he must travel or what compromises he must make or repercussions he must face.
There is no way you can know any or all of these things for sure when you plan to say "I do" or even when you actually say it. It's a gamble. But marriage, when it works, for whatever inexplicable reasons, is a sweet thing. At its best, it's a lasting friendship, no holds barred, and worth a roll of the dice.
And maybe, just maybe, you got married because it lets you be hokey and corny and because, every night when you go to bed three hours after he's already turned in and you announce in a suggestive yet tongue-in-cheek tone, "Here comes the woman of your dreams" (Oh, yeah, fat chance of that!) he, no matter how deeply asleep, as if on cue, stirs and murmurs, "Yeah" and, by golly, he means it!
© Cindi Pearce
Having worked for newspapers as a reporter/editor/photographer for years, Cindi is now also a freelance writer whose fiction has appeared in Star Magazine and the confession mags. She has written for various groups related to her work as a domestic violence court and family advocate. She is also a choreographer, and teaches tap dance and yoga.
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