Research shows that a shitload of American marriages end in divorce and an AOL banner headline informed me this morning that many young couples are putting off marriage due the crappy economy. I’m not sure these two things are related but what I am sure of, as a 7.5 year veteran of wedded bliss, is that my marriage has worked out exceedingly well in spite of statistics and crippling poverty and my own deep distrust of the institution. So I am here, at the behest of an esteemed colleague and soon-to-be Young Married, to defend marriage or, at the very least, present an argument as to why it’s worth the trouble.
Point 1: Helpmates are awesome! Seriously, you can crap-talk companionate marriage all you want but I’ll bet your drinking buddy or that gal you pal around with at grad school social functions wouldn’t rub your feet after a long day that the office (unless they’re trying to have sex with you; of course, your spouse might be doing it because they’d like to have sex as well but it’ll be far more affectionate and far less creepy). A really good husband or wife is great because they perform all the various functions of a friend plus the gross stuff like cleaning your dirty underwear and lancing unreachable boils.
Point 2: Helpmates with whom you are sexually compatible are even awesomer! All horrible, unspeakable things you’ve always wanted to do in bed (or in the butt or, you know, wherever) but were far too ashamed to even discuss with a boy/girlfriend can now be openly discussed – attempted even — with your spouse. Of course, this is no guarantee that you’ll actually be doing anything other than standard missionary for the rest of your life but at least you can talk about it and it’s far less likely that pictures of your aberrant behavior will show up on the web.
Point 3: The government will reward you for getting married. Lower taxes, cheaper health insurance, no estate taxes, Social Security benefits, and more easily shared property rights are just a few of the many incentives Uncle Sam offers married couples. Given these reasons, I’m wondering if all those young people who are forgoing marriage because of the economy are really just making excuses.
Of course, the astute reader would note that Points 1 & 2 are not necessarily marriage dependent. You could have a great helpmate companion person with whom you share your entire life and never bind yourselves to them legally. And really, when you consider that I’m nearly 8 years into my marriage and we’re so poor that we still get refunds come tax season, we own no appreciable property, and Social Security won’t exist by the time we’re old enough to qualify for it, Point 3 is moot for a good number of people as well.
So really, why bother? Consider the four main reasons I chose to marry: a) It was awkward introducing Joe as “my baby’s daddy” to relatives; b) It provided the perfect excuse to throw a righteous party; c) I would acquire a sweet new last name; and d) I’d found a person who challenged me emotionally and intellectually, who I loved, and with whom I could honestly see myself getting old with. Objectively, none of them are good reasons to sign a marriage certificate. Marriage is an arbitrary institution meant to reinforce old power dynamics but in certain cases, it can still rock. Why bother? Well, if you love each other and Johnny Law has no objections, eh, why the fuck not? If it works out, it’ll be well worth the trouble.