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Posted on August 7th, 2018

The Geography of My Mind – Special Days

I just spent a weekend at a buddy’s wedding, and it was an astronomical affair in some regards. It was his second wedding, and her first, so I don’t think he personally bought into the pomp and circumstance of it, well he did, but not by his choosing. Being in a big city (Chicago), it had all the trappings of an extravagant affair, overlooking the Chicago River, pre-wedding trolley rides to scenic places for staged photos, rented out venues with an open bar and all the like. Her dress was beautiful, and I imagine costly, and every detail was intricate and likely also another line item expense. All for one day. Or at least that’s how I saw it. Others might say it was all for one lifetime. But, like I said, he is on his second marriage, so time will tell… I have no idea how much the whole shebang cost, but I know the hotel rooms in their block were damn near $600 for two nights – which is a big reason why I didn’t stay there. I stayed at their apartment a few miles away. Someone measured a guess that all aspects of the weding came to roughly $30,000 – which is a hell of a lot for one day, in my opinion. Hopefully yours, too. I did have a friend that spent $60,000 for his wedding once; so maybe this latest one was modest…

I admittedly don’t see the point of marriage. I’m fairly certain you can be just as committed without an official pronouncement, contract, or party. I’m not even against the party – have that and try to keep it to around five grand – but we don’t need to sign and seal anything. Why you would want to mix love and obligation is beyond me. It’s stupid. Just how do you know you’ll feel the same way about someone a year from now, let alone 30-40? That saying, “If you love something let it go. If it comes back it was meant to be,” should be applied to nuptials: give them the option to walk away without hamstringing them. We’re all so scared and insecure; well let me tell you: the wedding deed makes it no safer, not in reality. Maybe it’ll get you a few guaranteed bucks if you’re a gold digger (man or woman), but right alongside that will come more and more headaches. Without a marriage agreement you walk away – with what you brought in and what you made along the way, at least that is the way it should be. Pre-nuptials are the only intelligent thing about getting married…

I’m not religious, I’m not Rah! Rah! about the ole’ gov’ment, I have zero desire to have kids – so why should I ever get married? (I won’t, hopefully – not that anyone is beating my down wanting to do so…) First, the government has no business being involved in marriage. If it is a union between two people (or three, or four, I really don’t care), then what right does Uncle Sam have to be in there? Many feel that weddings are bound up in religious ceremony – they are – but that doesn’t make much sense either. Why does the man/woman/life-force upstairs (or down below) care about that? Why would that be the only ceremony they’re vested in? Finally, while many held out for marriage until it was legal for all to get married – which is the correct ruling: all people should be free to make the same mistakes – the institute of marriage is still discriminatory – to the unmarried! Why on earth should you get a tax break for getting hitched? Even more so, why should you get further tax breaks for having little crappy versions of yourself? You create more weight for the system and you get a discount? Makes no sense at all…

Back to the recent “special day.” Whether it was $30k or $60k, I can think of a whole hell of a lot better things for that money to be spent on. We’re such an indulgent, forever unsatisfied populace, you’d think we’d learn to not be so wasteful if we were only going to turn around to look for the next “experience.” Yes, I’m being a little heavy-handed here; many say that the wedding ceremony marks the start of a journey (courting period be damned), and by the time you get to the 25th anniversary (or 30th or 50th or whatever…) you’re simply adding more rings to your shared tree. Maybe. I get that. But guess what? You can do that without an expensive, gaudy ceremony, and you can look to the future without making it “official.”

I’m not sure if the statistic is 100% accurate, but it is often bandied about that 50% of marriages end in divorce; so why do we still put so much weight into their supposed importance and necessity to a life well-lived? The fact that it is propagandized that the good life is incumbent upon coupledom is frankly dumb. I’m not railing against monogamy or intimate, long-term relationships at all, just why they’re the mark of success we’re all to aim for. I can’t tell you how many people I know who struggle through loveless, lifeless marriages yet hold on to them for god knows why; mostly because society has set the precedent that we’re all better off in a disappointing, formalized relationship than by ourselves, I guess…

One of my older friends, about 70 now, often tells me about how he adores his wife. He’s still “in love” with her. She is his third wife. He also talks about the “culture wars” in their house; they don’t see eye-to-eye on a few choice subjects. He told me if they were to ever part he could never be with another woman again; she is his last great love. So touching. But it seems it might take three spouses to figure out the non-essentiality of the whole formal coupling thing. Not that his is currently falling apart, nor do I wish it to, but I hear the stories often from him; why prolong the aggravation?

If I were to find some woman that I really loved who was insistent upon marriage, I would consent, but not by my choice. I would feel as if I’m making the ultimate sacrifice and that would be my trump card to play when needed. I can see your cringe now. Why, after all I’ve written, would I entertain that? Well, I have to admit I need to be better about compromising, and that seems like a grand gesture, the ultimate compromise after I would have clearly articulated my aversion to it and the reasons why. Maybe that’s why nobody is beating down my door… I digress. But I wouldn’t have any true faith in the longevity of the institution – how could I? How could she? How could you? I know people 40, 50 years into their first and only marriage. Are they happy? Yea, in some ways. Are they the same person and the same couple as when they started, no, not by their accounts, and not from mine looking in (not that I’m old enough to have known them for that long). I guess I just don’t see a need to gamble when it is not necessary, to tempt fate when the data warns against it. If you love someone, simply love them. Don’t trade that love for an idealized, contracted model, one that holds you accountable to an unnatural, and unattainable, goal.

Marco Esquandoles
Always a bridesmaid, never a bride

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