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Monday, March 15, 2010

The Marriage Versus "The Show"

A year ago I attended the wedding of a great friend-- more like a sister-- that, all told, didn’t cost above a thousand bucks. It took place outside a nice hotel with no more than fifteen people present (including the photographer). There was no reception afterward. I wished them well on their journey together-- they currently reside in Europe-- and was on my way.

They’re still together, minus a $20,000 tab (the cost of the average U.S. wedding).

Many women I talk to have a pre-conceived fantasy about their “special day.” Sure, they try to play it off at first-- “I really don’t need all that flashy stuff, just a man who loves me”-- before going into specifics, right down to the flower girl’s shoes. Problem with this is, too many of them are more concerned with the front entrance than with the winding amusement park that is marriage for life.

I say marriage for life because, with the divorce rate near 50% in the U.S., the institution is becoming more like a video game you can simply reset; spouses are considered for-the-moment, like starter homes. Nevertheless, women clamor for “the show,” that one day in their average lives when tears of joy are shed upon their feet, when all gifts are addressed to only them (and hubby)-- when a gut-battling corset is seen as anything but tacky. Whatever happens after is irrelevant; doesn’t even matter if they married the right gent! They’ll always have the pictures and, possibly, a ring that set him back three month’s salary.

It’s so easy to become enamored of the show that a woman can be blinded to the more serious questions. How will we pay off the debt incurred by an event that lasted a single day (and wasn’t about him at all)? How will our marriage manifest itself as we move farther away from the adrenaline rush of the wedding? Did I press him as hard as I did to get to the marriage or to the show?

In all fairness, men love the show as much as women. Why not? It’s a day when you and everyone else (not your parents) forget what’s wrong with us: that we’re still stuck in that dead-end job; that we spend too much time with our raucous friends; that we drink booze for breakfast; that we dropped your cousin’s baby after she said we look good with kids; that we’re (allegedly) giving your quality time to that skank in the apartment above ours.

You get the marriage, “the show,” to act a fool; we get the marriage.

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