There’s an article in Marie Claire [print] called “Marrying Mr. Wrong” which is subtitled “I Cried All The Way Down The Aisle”. One former bride says that she wasn’t ‘in love’ when she got married and felt her wedding “was like knowing you have a work meeting but you don’t want to go.” To which I’m left wondering: why? Why would you ever get married to someone you didn’t love?
Look, I’m not questioning that people fall in love with people who are terrible. That happens all the time. And that happens for all kind of reasons. Chemistry is hard to define, and we can’t entirely control our emotions, and that all makes sense. But when those people marry those terrible people, I don’t doubt that they are viewing their wedding as something approximately a billion times more joyful than a work meeting.
At other times, you might think you’re in love with someone just because there’s societal pressure to do so. If, say, John Hamm asked me out, I guarantee you I’d say “yes.” And if he liked me I would do everything possible to keep the relationship going. Because it’s John Hamm. And he’s the coolest, and therefore I’d be the coolest through association. I might genuinely believe I was in love with him – because wow, what a fairy tale! – and not objectively consider whether I have anything in common with John Hamm (not much, though I guess we both really like Mad Men, so that could keep us going for a while). If he proposed, I might say yes, and it might be a dumb decision that I made in the heat of an exiciting whirlwind romance, but at the time, I’m pretty sure I’d believe I was in love.
The point isn’t “getting married to the wrong person is stupid” – it’s not, it’s understandable. The point is that getting married to someone you’re not in love with and really excited to marry is kind of a terrible thing, when you think about it.
Because you’re going to have to keep living with them. All the time. They will be in your house until you die. And you had better believe there’s no one you want with you on your deathbed more, because, whoops, once you’re married, if you find someone else, it’s either going to be not an option (for various reasons) or just really, really complicated to leave your spouse.
And these people don’t even seem to have particularly good bad reasons for getting married! I’ve always believed that if you marry for money you’ll earn every penny, but that’s at least understandable. Ditto, say, needing a green card. But these people seem to get married just because it’s the thing to do after a certain point. Which maybe it was, but only if you were a 16th century princess who needed to secure alliances and you know, even then, just look at Queen Elizabeth.
In this day and age, you don’t need to get married to achieve your life goals. You’re desperate for a kid? You can be a single parent and find a way to make it work. You want a big house in the suburbs with a white picket fence? You’ll get a better job. There are other options besides trapping yoursel in a loveless marriage.
Because marrying someone you’re not thrilled to be marrying seems like the worst thing ever. Marrying someone you don’t love, to me, just seems like the most profound act of hopelessness. It’s as though you’ve just acknowledged that you don’t think love is going to happen for you. Which is… crazy. That’s not fairy tale stuff. Love happens to everyone. All the time. Every day.
But, that said, maybe I’m being too harsh. Maybe some marriages of convenience and companionship work out really well for some people. I’ve just never heard of that being the case. Do you know someone who married for not-love? How’s that working out for them?