*”Jake” has been married for 12 years now, in a union that he himself sardonically refers to as “No sex and a mortgage.”
Twelve years ago when I asked him why he was going through with a proposal to a woman who cheated on him twice (that she admitted to), he responded, simply, “Well, she’s the devil that I know. I’m also going to be thirty soon and I don’t want to be single when I’m thirty.”
Of all the things people do—even though, according to recent surveys, they’re doing it less these days—marriage is one of those things people do most for reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with the reasons people are supposed to be doing it.
That’s not breaking news. From time immemorial, men and women (and now men and men and women and women) have been getting hitched, motivated–if you can call it that–by some of the strangest whys.
Jake got me to pondering the myriad of reasons I have been told or heard that people got married—surreal, Twilight Zone rationale steeped in anything but reality. Perhaps you’ve heard some of them:
“We’ve been together this long, we might as well;” “The sex is good;” “We already told people we were going to do it;” “I’m tired of looking;” “He’s ugly, so he won’t play on me.”
Or how about: “Daddy can’t get his deposit back on the ballroom;” “I’m getting old;” “We’re both already cheating on one another anyway;” “My friends are married and we all want to have our kids together;” “He’s a good provider;” “I may never find another ass like that in life.”
And then there’s: “I need to take care of somebody;” “I’ll grow to love him;” “I don’t drive;” “We like the same stuff;” “A woman who dies unmarried is a failure;” “She keeps bugging me about it;” “Mama liked her;” “I like how he dresses;” “He doesn’t like sex;” “My kids like him;” “I didn’t marry her, I married them titties.”
I’ve actually been told these: “Because of our careers, we’ll never see one another;” “She’s got a house;” “He cooks;” “He’s smart;” “She’s quiet;” “I just want to get it over with;” “She’s got a good job;” “He’s the first man to make me come;” “He asked;” “I need somebody to take care of me;” “We look good together;” “I just kind of went with it.”
One of these maybe even you said: “I don’t want to die alone;” “She can cook;” “I don’t have siblings of my own, and I like his family;” “She’s the only one who will put up with me;” “He’s a Christian;” “She’s a straight up freak;” “He can dance;” “She’s got kids and I want to be a father;” “He’s Gay and I’m Lesbian, but we like each other;” “I wanted out of El Paso;” “I want my Green Card;” “He can fix stuff;” “My father liked him.”
And of course, there are those who say they married for love, mutual respect and understanding. But then, you know, people lie.
Steven Ivory, who has absolutely nothing against the institution of marriage, is a veteran journalist, essayist and author. He writes about popular culture for magazines, newspapers, radio, TV and the Internet. Respond to him via [email protected]