Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Marrying Kind ...

My pal Angela and I have been having an interesting e-mail discussion about marriage and divorce and relationships. Yesterday, she sent this: "The question is then do you WANT to get married? Or are you happy in your singleness with your independence?"

I immediately said, "No, I want to get married."

And then I thought, "Do I really?"

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away (Algonquin), there lived a man whom I dated briefly. It was an on-again, off-again kind of thing, mostly off. After a fair stretch of being apart, he got back in touch with me (he'd called it off to begin with when he realized I wanted kids) and we started talking on the phone again. He'd come around and decided he wanted to have kids after all, so long as we had some time for us first.

During one conversation, he said, "OK, so will you sell your house and move in here? Or will I sell my house in move in there? Or will we both sell our houses and buy a place together?"

And I thought, "Whoa, wait a minute there, bub. We should be talking about where we're going to dinner, not who's selling whose house."

Clearly, I wasn't ready to marry him. Never was. Never will be. We had dinner, we both realized that any previous spark was now nothing more than a fleck of ash, and we went our separate ways.

Impossibly, 10 years ago, College Boyfriend David was in town with a friend and while the three of us were poking around Best Buy, the subject of marriage came up.

David wondered why it was we'd never gotten married.

"Well, I don't know how it works in your country," I said with more than a hint of sarcasm in my voice, "but in my country, if a man wants to marry a woman, he asks her."

David looked a bit dumbfounded, as if it had never occurred to him that the only thing standing between us and wedded bliss was the lack of a proposal.

Mom and I were talking about him recently and she laughed and asked, "Beth, are you going to marry him?"

And I said, "No, but leave it to me to end up marrying the guy I dated when I was 19. Leave it to me to take half my life to get my act together."

Then again, I could say "No" to her question because the prospect of marriage wasn't on the table. If the boy ever got around to the whole bended-knee moment, I frankly don't know what my answer would be. It must mean something that we're still in each other's lives all these years later. Especially as I don't stay in touch with any other ex.

Today on Oprah, the audience took a health quiz created by Dr. Oz, one of the most attractive men on the planet. (Had to pause to query him in Wikipedia. He's Turkish. Turkish-American. Born in Cleveland. But there you go: I've always had a thing for men from that part of the world. Turkey, that is. Though I'm sure Cleveland has produced a few stunners, too.) And one of the As to one of the Qs revealed that we should have sex 200 times a year or more. With one partner, not a lot of one-night stands. Orgasms, apparently, are a prescription for a longer, healthier life. Though his point was that having a close, loving bond with someone adds to our longevity.

I laughed out loud and said, to no one there, "Well, I'll be dying young." I'm off the 200-a-year pace by several thousand at this rate. Short of becoming a nymphomaniac, I don't think I can catch up.

So, sure, I'd welcome the close, loving bond with someone, but where would he put his stuff? I'm kidding, of course. We'd merge our lives. But I have gotten very used to having everything the way I want it, to my taste in furniture and paint colors and music. My toilet seat is always down. There are no whiskers in the sink. My TV doesn't have the ESPN logo burned into the lower right corner. Nothing in my home reclines.

I know that the compromises that come with sharing a life are small potatoes compared to the rewards of companionship, but Angela's question really got me to wondering.

Maybe I just haven't met the right man yet. I've met some who are very, very close. I've met others who would be perfect if they weren't married. Or gay.

But so far, all the stars haven't aligned. And maybe they never will. Maybe I'm meant to go through this lifetime alone, to be focused on whatever it is I'm supposed to be focused.

Or maybe he just hasn't found me yet. Because he's a man. And he's bad with directions.

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Blogger Markbnj said...

Damn it Beth. Stop being such a....
ehh.. Woman...

Yes, men ARE stupid, (like college dave forgetting to ASK for your hand).

But Damn it girl. You can't just expect the "knight in shining armor" to break down your door, without having eve HEARD about you before, can you???

Go, give dave another chance.
Invite him back into your life.
decide you WANT to do a "trial" marriage.
See if you're compatible.

Life is too short to be alone, said the long married man

Mark b in NJ

11:25 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

Ah, right, key point I didn't make in the post: I think the whole "starter marriage" notion is crap.

If I'm going to do this, I'm going to do this once.

At least that's the plan. But I'm sure not going into it thinking, "Eh, if it doesn't work, we'll just get a divorce."

And I'm not just waiting for him to find me. I was just bein' cheeky.

11:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To quote a beautiful song by Mary Chapin Carpenter: "You might still be searching every face for the one you can't forget; Love is out there in a stranger's clothes; You just haven't met him yet."

And in regard to the ESPN crack ... 94 million households can't be wrong!

12:47 AM  
Blogger Beth said...

Ooh, that is a beautiful lyric.

As for ESPN, hey, he can watch all he wants. I just ain't a big watching-sports-on-TV fan.

7:10 AM  
Blogger Jeff Hunter said...

This marriage question is a difficult one. I couldn't imagine not being married, but I know it's hard work and not for everybody.

First off, who says you have to marry when you're young? Sure, a lot of people do it, but not everybody is ready to get married when they are young. Maybe that puts a damper on the kid thing for you, but that's just a technical problem that can be solved one way or another.

Second, I believe there is a grand plan to life and each person's plan is different. Maybe your plan is being single at this point in time so you can be there for your Mom & Dad and do the three day walks. If you were married you'd inevitably have to split holidays and maybe your chosen hubby would be clingy and get huffy when you are away for three days. Who knows?

College Dave's (you realize you've got way too many Dave's in your life, right?) path and yours just weren't meant to cross at that point and maybe never will. Let your plan happen.

11:52 AM  
Blogger Beth said...

Good thoughts, Jeff. I'm for sure letting my plan happen. Not much else I can do, eh?

And I laughed at your comment about too many Daves in my life. Don't I know it! But then, I wouldn't trade any of 'em in, so I guess I have just the right number of Daves in my life. I wrote a post about them long ago. I think it's time to update that one. Some Daves come and some Daves go.

12:03 PM  
Anonymous girl and dog said...

One of my friends asked me if it annoyed me when Tom left the toilet seat up, and I said, "No, because it reminds me that I have a wonderful, absent-minded man in my life."

Whiskers in the sink? It reminds me that I have a virile, sexy man in my life.

It's all in how you look at it, but you must be 110% sure of what you want.

6:44 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

Well, that's a fabulous perspective, Girl.

7:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just happened to come across your posting- and I am professionally very close with Dr. Oz- I will pass along your "handsome man on the planet" thoughts...

5:46 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

JSA: Well, thank you for letting him know! It's a well-deserved compliment!

6:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi there, came across this while searching for the words "the marrying kind"- interesting thoughts you have here! I am a single female in my early-mid 30s who is just now getting around to the notion that *gasp* perhaps marriage ISN'T for everyone! I am starting to really enjoy my life as it is, the chaotic mess that it can be at times, but certainly my life, being lived the way I want to live it! :)


8:03 PM  

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