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The Indefinite Article.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

I don't. Nay, won't.

Today I had another fight with my boyfriend.

Some backstory for those who don't know me or Brian very well: We've been together for nearing three years. Most people who have seen us in action agree that we have somewhat of an antagonistic relationship, but that it works well for us. We both have a healthy distaste for convention and tradition. I dye my hair red and he wears geek t-shirts. Though he is largely apolitical, he does things that I admire, like driving a scooter because he wants to leave a smaller ecological footprint than most humans do. I'm a hard-core liberal, which he admires because if he had the energy to be political, he'd be a liberal, too. No other relationship I've had has been nearly as fulfilling as this one and I know he would say the same for himself. Above all: we make each other laugh and we are seriously, comfortably happy when we're not talking about what I'm about to talk about.

Our one huge point of contention: marriage. You might think that, given how I describe myself, I wouldn't be so concerned with this sort of traditional display of commitment. But it is ingrained in the female mind to want to partner up for life, and so, I find myself in the position that so many females find themselves in: at the latter end of my twenties and feeling like it's time to settle down. Brian, on the other hand, is about as down on marriage as you can get. First he will tell you that it doesn't work; that all marriages are doomed for failure and everyone ends up miserable when they're ten years in. (I should tell you he is a bit of a pessimist). Second he will tell you that he just doesn't care either way; that maybe someday he could get married, but it isn't a "priority" and may never be.

The fight came up again today because he is getting serious about leaving his job and looking for a new one. In the museum biz, you go where the job is, so I've always known that there is a possibility that he might decide to pack up and move to Iowa or somewhere equally as distasteful (apologies to any Iowans reading, I actually know nothing about Iowa) for a good job at the Iowa State History Museum or whatever. So add to the fact that he doesn't want to talk about marriage the fact that he is also ok with leaving this relationship for his career, and we're talking major relationship breakdown.

Now some Houston opportunities have arisen and he's not taking quite the gung-ho approach I would have hoped for because he's pretty sure they won't pay enough. He doesn't know this for a fact, mind you, he just says he knows the museum biz well enough to know that these jobs won't pay enough. I don't think it will shock you to say that his feet-dragging is depressing me.

Here is where you come in: here is this group of men almost all committed to a woman. This is an unprecedented group to me, I am 27 and have been surrounded by flakes thus far in my life (except for my dear brother-in-law, who truly found his other half in my sister...it's the sort of thing you see in movies, but rarely in real life). I, and I'm sure countless other women, would love to tap into your collective knowledge:

Did you always know you wanted to be married? You hear a lot about men "growing up" and "settling down" and I think just as females are hard-wired to want to bond when they're young, males aren't and that marriage is a definite choice rather than an unconscious desire. Just let me know if I'm wrong on that. And, if you didn't always want to be married, did you at least accept it as part of the "way of the world" and know that you would eventually be coaxed into marriage?

Or does it all come down to the eyes of the woman you're with? One day you're a happy bachelor and then, without warning, here comes this girl and you say, "yes, this is it."

Because if that's it, I'm screwed. I tried telling Brian today that he wasn't going to be able to run away from this; every woman he would ever meet would eventually ask him, "um, dude, are you planning on making this legal or what?"

I've tried imagining myself staying in this girlfriend state forever and I can't. Am I asking too much of these three years we've been together? Should I expect a longer courtship?

Sorry for the Dear Abby letter, but I thought you all might have some insight.


  • My Story: My father died when I was 4. My mother remarried once to a scumbag, it failed, but not until after we had moved to Arkansas for his dumb-ass.
    I cant say I had any "real" examples of a functional marriage, even though some one of my uncles had one. The ones I knew were not in my household.
    Ask anyone. I like strong women. I am not ashamed by the fact that I semi-like to be bossed around.
    Liz and I dated a little over a year, and it was my first "healthy" relationship that lasted longer that 8 months.
    We talked about marriage, however that's all I did.
    15 months after our first date we were sitting in my friends living room and Liz picked a date. Dec. 18th.
    Just like that. We were married on Dec. 15th seven months later because the 18th was a Monday.
    Most of my life I have been a serial monogomist.
    I didnt really care about marriage so much as commitment. Liz and I agree that I would have kept talking about marriage until someone else did something about it.
    What facilitated the whole arrangment was that we didnt live together before we got married.
    As far as your questions. It's all random.
    I cant stereo-type too much.
    Marriage to a young man is a concept much like Space Travel.
    The technologies (or circumstances) are always predicted by experts to be around the corner but sometimes they dont come to fruition.
    Some people may not like the idea of Space Travel.
    Some people may not be fit for it.
    For some that is all they dream about and they try and make it happen, sometimes at their own peril.
    Some of us feel like stowaways.
    Not deserving but we sneak aboard and enjoy the ride.

    By Blogger taggart, at 9:31 PM  

  • i think maybe i am not the best person to ask. i have been thinking about your post for several days now and i can't say that i know exactly how to answer the questions you are asking. i can only speak for myself, really. i knew that i wanted to be married at some point, but i didn't really start thinking about this till a seminary retreat i attended my senior year of high school. there, i spent two weeks among priests and other young men who were considering the priesthood. after two weeks of prayer and meditation it was evident to me that i was not to join the priesthood ...

    i knew i wanted a wife and a family then, but of course not in any concrete terms. i didn't know love then; not the love of a man/woman relationship at least.

    jeez, you know what, i've written this third paragraph like four times already and it's either exposed way too many contradictions in myself or has been so monumentously inadequate that i erased it. so i'll give you a direct answer and hope i don't come across as insensitive or preachy: let him go. it would be monumentally worse to 'argue' someone into accepting marriage when they really don't want it. 3 years into your marriage, he'll realize, "holy shit, what am i doing here? didn't i always say that i didn't want this?" and fights will be monumentally more intense.

    of course, you have to ask yourself: do you want someone to love (and love you)? or do you want someone to marry?

    By Blogger Killy, at 6:25 AM  

  • i'm not a guy
    leave him
    love another
    be loved
    and marriage will happen

    it's true
    love will find you

    when he's gone
    he may just wake up one day and see
    that he can't live without you

    then the choice will be his

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:41 AM  

  • Taggart, thank you for sharing your story. I appreciate it.

    To Killy and what I assume is Carol: I don't know. Letting go is never something I've done well, but it is something I've done before when I felt so strongly that the relationship was wrong that every time I spoke with the man, I wanted to throw up. I'm not at that point with Brian. I'm going to give it some more time and some deep breaths.

    By Blogger Sara C., at 9:12 PM  

  • My concern is less about him not wanting to get married but more about his future plans. Is he discussing how you would feel about moving with him? Do you two discuss where you both will be in the future? I would be freaking out if it felt like he was slowly checking out of the relationship. It sounds like you aren't feeling secure. Have you told him where you see yourself in the future?

    I don't know the entire story so I might be wrong but this is the part that bugs me.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:54 AM  

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