Why Won’t He Marry Me? The Unusual, Wonderful Truth
There were (and still are) many reasons I never wanted to marry, only slightly related to the fact that my parents divorced while I was young. I bore witness to a whole host of dysfunctional and toxic relationships throughout the years and knew I wanted no part of it. I knew early on that things, and especially people, weren’t always who they seemed to be. I was naturally quiet and kept to myself, so I was able to observe many things without detection. I always thought I’d make a rather good spy: no one ever noticed I was around and privy to their deepest secrets and ugliest moments. Or they saw my non-judgmental attitude as permission to pour out their lives to me as if I were their therapist.
It was weird growing up that way.
Being on the outside did allow me to see certain things sooner than other people. Being a constant outcast gave me the room to do my own exploring of the world at large. My more inquiring manner led me to question many things, things many people take for granted. Marriage was one idea I examined at a young age. I’ve never been romantic (in fact I’m aromantic) and so never understood why two people falling in love needed to be celebrated and rubbed in the faces of everyone they’d ever known, and then on top of that why the government had any business saying that their feelings meant they were entitled to special benefits, whether or not they actually had children.
Most love I saw was addiction: on TV, in real life, in stories. I love Disney but the whole “one true love” always struck me as being preposterous. These people knew nothing about one another and I knew that sometimes no matter how much you may genuinely love someone it didn’t mean anything. Sometimes all we have is the feeling. And that’s okay! But no, the big, romantic notions are that you throw all reason and caution to the wind. You can do anything and get away with anything as long as you’re in love.
Needless to say, that’s all the reason I needed to avoid romance. But I knew it was something other people still wanted, that other people experienced. Thousands of years of history of people doing insane things for love. So I did what I always do when I fail to understand something people consider normal: I did my research. It might have started with the Bible at age 12. That’s when my boredom with school became almost unbearable. It was always too easy, even up to college (until my health forced me out). The subject I hated most in school (besides English) was History. I just knew it was full of shit. And of course the probing questions I had were beyond the scope of the teachers and materials.
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How I felt in school. Another reason I wrote my own stories. P.S. Click to activate gif.[/caption]
So I went to the library. I used the computers and books and perused the history of marriage and love. And nearly gagged again. Property. Something that had been co-opted in the past hundred or so years under the guise of romance but had a long, twisted history based on paternity, inheritance, and politics. For all the talk of traditional marriage going around, I doubt many understand what the true traditions were for most of its history. And yet some of those traditions do remain. That feeling of ownership, although it now extends to men as well as women (though women still erase their paternal history by taking another dude’s name). The strict roles of who does what in the family (seriously guys? Why so lazy?). That pressure to grow up and settle down.
I was too wild for all of that. Not to mention I’ve never felt fully male or female and I’ve never liked only males or females. I never imagined myself being with only one person. A whole lifetime expecting one single person to bear the burden of my happiness-and for me to bear theirs-was unfathomable. To accept the lie that I was a half just waiting to be filled (by some dude, at that!) was anathema. I know other people love marriage and romance. It makes them feel wonderful. The enforced and familiar commitment makes them feel safe.
But for me, marriage always seemed to be a punishment. A trap. A box. For me-the electron that needed to move, that needed to be able to choose, that wanted someone(s) with me voluntarily moment by moment-the default of marriage was not enough.
And then I grew to love my living long-term partner. He’s romantic and his goal was to marry someday. In many ways, he’s very, very normal. There’s actually quite a funny story about his desire to remain a virgin until he married (I found that admirable, but obviously since I never wanted to marry we had to find an alternate solution. Hilarious story for another time). But something strange happened. For the first three years of our going-on-a-decade relationship, he felt as if he didn’t love me. He wasn’t feeling those Hollywood feelings of romantic love and NRE and because that’s all he was familiar with he couldn’t figure out what was going on.
I couldn’t figure out why he wanted to stick around me if that was what he truly did want. The last thing I wanted was for someone to stand by me out of duty instead of desire. It took him almost “losing me” to finally realize he did love me intensely, just not in the traditional sense. Because it was the only language he understood at the time, I asked him to marry me and he said yes. I wanted to know if he wanted to stay around and that was good enough for me. We never did get married, despite some ongoing pressure (although they’ve backed off a bit) from both our families to do so (to get right with Gawd! Or at least for the sake of our offspring).
Flash forward to the present day. I think it was about a month ago when he said the most romantic words I’ve ever heard:
I don’t want to marry you. If God needs to sanction our union, I’m telling you he already has. Because we are God. We don’t need a piece of paper to know we’re committed. I never want to be complacent. I want to earn you every single day. I want to perpetually date you.
I fucking melted. That’s the kind of love I always wanted. A living love, not a static love. One that grows over time and is created anew every day, not one that stagnates and turns into resentment. I don’t want rings to be our marks of ownership on one another; we both want to get matching yet opposing ankh tattoos to show how life is ever-changing and dynamic. We didn’t have NRE; we have ecstatic, rapturous, resonant love. We don’t default. We don’t assume. We don’t need the sanction or the approval (though perhaps we could use those tax benefits everyone always talks about). We just are. We actively choose and “earn” one another over and over, day after day. And I fucking love it.
One day he still might marry someone else. Someone who does want to get married. I don’t mind. I love a good party. Funnily enough, the one thing I actually did think of was my “dress” (which is definitely unconventional in its style, sly devil me). I think I might still have it made anyway. If nothing else, we can always have a damn good party.
*Note on the picture: there’s actually a lovely website about being happily unmarried. It’s a company based in India of all places! Nice. Here’s the site if you don’t believe me: http://www.happilyunmarried.com/