Why Being Married Doesn't Solve All Of Life's Problems
I got married almost three years ago, on a beach in Cape May, on a unicorn. It was practically a (demented) fairytale wedding. Girl gets out of really shitty relationship. Girl meets wonderful man on Craigslist in borderline creepy (yet successful) “hunt for love.” Girl rides off on a unicorn into the sunset with the hunky hipster photographer at her side. Maybe it didn't go exactly the way I'd read it could or would go, but I was surprised at how nicely my version of romantic bliss finally unfolded.
I’ve always been good at having boyfriends. I don’t casually date men — I move in and redecorate. Sure, there have been one or two who have been immune to my charms, god bless ‘em, but for the most part, the men I've dated have all been more or less the same — easy, even. I'd put up with their bullshit, keep mine to a minimum, and they’d bang me for a pretty long time. This is definitely not to be taken as feminist advice on how to date, it’s just what my experience happened to be in my dumber, younger years.
Nowadays, many of my girlfriends call me, like I’m Mistress Cleo or something, to ask me questions that I would need psychic powers to answer. “If I text him, will it scare him away?” “Should I ignore him to get his interest back up?” “How do I make him know I like him without saying I like you?” Or sometimes my girlfriends talk to me in awe, like I cracked some kind of amazing riddle. “I mean, you got a man to marry you, you obviously are doing something right. What?” These are intelligent women who’ve had such little success on the dating scene, they feel lucky if a guy gives them the time of day — when the men they are interested in should be so blessed to be with them. But the entrepreneur in me almost wants to charge $2.99 a minute for my services.
Still, I feel flattered. They think I have some kind of magical insight into the male psyche. And maybe I do. I’ve had enough long-term relationships that I sometimes think I’ve got the dudes of the world down to a T. I hear the words their mouths are saying and I immediately translate them into subtext — but I do this with everyone. I think it may come from spending the last 15 years as a comedian, getting heckled, getting backhanded compliments, getting insulted, and having others make attempts to impress or humor me. “What do you want?” I’ve learned to ask and answer, using their own words and actions. And when I can, when it feels right, I deliver. I’ve spent a long time working on not doing things just because I think it will please someone. Nowadays, I work on how to please me. But sometimes, pleasing others pleases me, and they fit hand in hand.
But, though my girlfriends come to me seeking tips for getting hitched, as though marriage is the magic bullet to heal all ills, I've learned that marriage will not solve your problems. Not even a little bit. If you go into marriage with that idea, you are in for trouble. I suggest starting by solving your own issues as best you can (through therapy, self-examination, spirituality, long walks on the beach, self-love, various medications) on your own first, and then foraying into marriage. Here are a few things that marriage won't fix.
After I got married, I had a miscarriage and then immediately after, I had a breast tumor removed. Not even an “I do” could keep those things from happening.
On the plus side, I have very good health insurance now that I’m married, and statistics say that married people live longer than single people — that said, I think Laci Peterson might disagree. In fact, women are more likely to be killed by their boyfriends or husbands than by anyone else.
Another issue that marriage may not benefit is your career. Most people become successful because they work, a lot and hard. When I met my husband, I had visions of us traveling around the world together, me his waify muse (note: I’m neither waify nor muse-y), performing on moody stages as he photographed me at work for Rolling Stone and Vanity Fair. His beautiful portraits of me would inspire the public and illuminate my undiscovered genius, and my moment in the sun would prop him up, as well.
But he had other ideas. He wanted to photograph what he wanted to, duh, and nowadays if I want a nice portrait, I usually hire someone to take it. Women always imagine a “white knight” who is going to solve all their problems (thanks, f&*%ing fairytales!), but there's no such thing. It’s not fair to expect that from another person.
Sure, a s/o will often carry weight in terms of sharing rent and costs, hopefully give advice when you get stuck on how to proceed in delicate business-related situations (“In this email, should I say, ‘Thanks for your feedback,’ or ‘F*ck off, Joe Blow’?”) and do their share of household errands, leaving more time for each of you to write, work, and dream. But no one is going to make your life the best it can be but you.
Your Self Esteem
Other questions from gal pals include, “Well, marriage offers loyalty and security, right?” Sometimes, sometimes not. “Well, does it help your self esteem?” It can, at times, depending on the relationship. Here’s the short answer. If the marriage is good, it’s good, and it’s because you’re both solid in yourselves. “Solid” doesn’t mean perfect, or done growing, or special. It just means you’re in a good place with a strong personal foundation that can possibly support the partial load of another human.
And, even if it feels perfect, it might not last forever. Life is a fickle bastard, and anything can happen at any time, tossing all into disarray. So I just work on making myself the best me I can be, all the time, every day, (remembering to take Oreo breaks) and I think the rest will work itself out. One of my favorite things to remember is, “Everything will be OK.” And it will. In 100 years, none of the things you are sweating, crying, wondering, or bondoogled over will even matter, much less exist. So, just breathe. Marriage will happen, or it won’t, and it will be good or it won’t, and you can try to fix all the things that are broken around you, and maybe you will and maybe you won’t. The only thing you can really fix, work on, or correct, is you. That is always, always within your control.
“What do you get out of being married?” I just asked my husband, as he walked by, shirtless in torn boxers. “Boners,” he said. I rest my case.
Image: Photos by the author / Jessica Delfino