“Marriage” And “Monogamy” Are Not Synonyms

And this goes both ways

Matteo Catanese, unsplash

Just like love and marriage are not synonyms. Not outside of conventional models. Not outside of the expected track. Not in human terms.

So when people, for example, talk about “not wanting to get married,” they’re not necessarily saying they don’t still want a long-term, committed relationship.

When people say they’re not sure marriage is for them, they’re not saying they don’t still want the same sort of monogamous, boring-as-balls, “forever” sort of situation.

(And conversely, some people who get married don’t mean that any way, at least not deep down, but that’s not the point of this post.)

The point here is: marriage and monogamy are not synonyms.

You can, consensually or otherwise, have marriage without monogamy.

And you can, likewise, have monogamy without marriage.

So. Catch up.

I often say I want to be with my partner forever.

I say this because it’s true.

I also say it because it’s the way we all talk about love.

“Forever” is the bookend we toss out in front of us, like a horseshoe in the dirt or the heavy little sandbag in a game of corn hole among friends. It’s that obscure end we’re all half-heartedly shooting for but shooting for nonetheless, taking a swig of our beer and laughing like, “of course — what else??”

But I also say it because I’ve never felt this way about anyone else I’ve dated — and that includes dudes I dated for years; dudes who wanted to marry me, but despite being “great candidates” weren’t people I wanted to marry back. And don’t pretend for a second you don’t know what I mean by that, like we aren’t all on the same page that it means some magical combination of “income, sanity, and charm.” But they had that. And, for a brief period of time, they maybe had me too. But then they didn’t, in the end. But he does. The idea of eternity with him, unlike the others, seems obvious — easy. The game of corn hole. Like, “yeah, of course.”

And again, I guess what I’m saying is that I’m mostly saying this because: it’s true.

And yet…

The idea of MARRIAGE is kinda like… not my bag, baby? I don’t know. I mean, it’s not the commitment — again, that’s literally what this post is about.

I have no qualms with telling anyone and everyone that my boo is a “forever” sort of situation. And I’m not normally the type of girl. Historically, I’ve been the “too cool for school” girl(friend), who’s like “love? wat dat?” (new number who dis.) And with him I’ll readily tell you (whoever you are, even if you are the barista selling us an over-priced $6 hipster donut with “milk crumbles”(?)) that this guy is my main squeeze.

And yet.

I’ve thought about marriage (at least with him.) I’ve run the numbers. I’ve looked at statistics, and tax breaks, and all the other “logical” reasons, and things just don’t add up.

People like to claim that marriage is a logical choice, but outside of only some scenarios, it isn’t. It’s largely an emotional decision (or “social norm,” which is both wholly logical and entirely emotional, depending on your viewpoint and definition.)

So let’s talk emotion, because while people love to shit on “emotion” (theirs or others’), the reality is that almost all of our decisions are emotional, not logical (and anyone who claims otherwise is lying, mostly to themselves.)

Yes, marriage has a lot of emotional benefits… if that’s what you value.

If it is? Mazel tov. Zero judgment, baby — I’m happy for you. My best friend from college got married in 2018, and I counted it as one of the highlights of my entire year. My favorite cousin is set to get married this fall, and my (younger!) brother got married like five years ago, and my (ten years younger) sister will probably get married before me, and guys… I am so goddamn happy for them.

I have nothing against marriage.

It just doesn’t excite me. It doesn’t get my juices flowing like it does for others. It’s like cake. Like, I can look at cake and say “yeah, that’s a pretty cake.” But I’m not into cake and I can probably count on one hand the number of times I’ve actually enjoyed cake. (Actually, I literally think it was once: that college best friend’s wedding. Go figure.)

And yet

That doesn’t mean I’m trampling on the idea of “always.”

Just because I don’t need or want or demand or whatever a piece of paper between us doesn’t mean I don’t want my partner for the long haul. It’s sort of like a city or a job or a great pair of jeans you love. You never sign a contract — you just know.

And I know tons of people want to point out: the contract keeps you together.

Again, that’s great. For them. No judgment. But I just don’t see enough benefit there for me. I don’t see the point of tethering someone to me. And even though “it’s harder to leave if you’re married,” or “I would’ve left had I not been married,” or “divorce discourages separation” or whatever else, the thing I’m trying to say here is: those aren’t my values!

I love my motorcycle.

It is by far my favorite possession, and brings me incredible joy. But the only paper between us is the title — it could fail me, I could sell it, things change.

And I guess what I’m saying is…

My greatest love is a loose hold.