What Guys Really Think About Marriage
Everyone's getting hitched. My friends Kyle and Lyssy in Texas. The cashier at the grocery store, finally, after all this time. My cousin Francine.
I've gone to more weddings than keggers this year. Done more toasts than celebrity beer pong shots.
And friends, I love you, but you're bringing me down.
Marriage feels like such an antiquated concept. I suppose other outcomes are possible, but I've only ever seen two: crippling resentment brought on by a lifetime of forced cohabitation, or divorce. I just don't understand why we all keep showing up for this movie when we've seen the way it ends.
But you know what? It doesn't have to be this way.
Europe is basically done with marriage, with rates dropping steadily in the past decade, according to the Guardian. Even in the United States, marriage rates are lower than they've been since 1870, according to the Washington Post.
But it's difficult to see all of this actually playing out in front of us in real life, I think, for a few reasons.
Marriage is still viewed like that bar you know you'll end up at at the end of the night. Even the most fervent critics of marriage admit that, yes, one day they will end up there too, because how could they not?
None of us live interesting enough lives to think that being single one day won't get stale itself, and few of us have enough conviction to stick to our beliefs if they don't fit into the norm.
That said, there are more like me out there. I know it. Wannabe bachelors – or, more accurately, proud bachelors – might be the most closeted population in this country circa 2016. We're like atheists. There are more of us out there than want to admit it.
What follows is a list of what these guys are thinking – and, to be honest, probably what most guys are thinking about marriage to a certain extent.
Here's why we don't want to get married when clearly it's the greatest thing in the world.
1. We're afraid of locking ourselves into something too early.
Why wouldn't we be? We only have one life, and what a tragedy it is to live it in a way that doesn't make you happy. And not being happy is a very, very real byproduct – both long and short-term – of marriage.
There are seven billion people in the world, and zero are able to tell the future. How are you supposed to know what'll happen in a marriage with one of them? Isn't it much more likely that you won't know, or that you'll be wrong?
Deep down, guys are also afraid of waiting too long and missing out — yes, on the negatives, but also on the positives.
For this, I concede to the late, brilliant Larry Brown. This is a quote from his short story “Big Bad Love”:
Love was a big word and it covered a lot of territory. You could spend your whole life chasing after it and wind up with nothing, be an old bitter guy with long nose hair and ear hair and no teeth, hanging out in bars, looking for somebody your age, but the chances of success went down then. After a while you, got too many strikes against you.
2. We don't want to be those jaded, middle-aged men full of regret.
I hear a lot of Millennial talk about avoiding commitment and wanting to tough it out alone, but very few take actual action to back up their boasts. Saying you never want to get married usually means you're engaged to the next girl you date.
Guys are particularly guilty of this. Why don't we ever learn from the comedians who poke fun at married men for acting like whipped dogs? Why don't we ever listen to our uncles when they roll their eyes, sigh, say "Don't ever get married" and then drag their feet to go scoop some ice or hose down the yard for their wives?
Why do we chuckle at silly Uncle Jim, and end up doing what he did anyway?
I've never met a married man who didn't walk like he was tied up in a straight jacket. They all look like animals sent to the zoo.
I imagine it's inevitable to feel bogged down by the familiar. It's very hard to blame people for such burdens. The male mind recognizes two things most clearly: the old and the new.
Everything is going to get old, which is why it doesn't make sense to us why so many volunteer for that.
3. We want to be in complete control of our own lives.
Which society will tell us is a selfish worldview.
But that's because it has to do that. Free-thinking people don't volunteer for lifetimes of shit based on savage hyperbole, they don't pledge allegiance just because they're told to and they definitely don't blindly fall victim to advertisement machines. And all of that is exactly what marriage is.
Marriage capitalizes on these fairy tales of love we were told as children. But our culture has also institutionalized marriage because our economy needs it.
Marriage is the most socially accepted way to have a family, and having a family turns you from a consumer into many consumers. Families buy stuff. Families create businesses. Families pay taxes (and get unfair breaks on those taxes).
Families were made to make other families rich, not to make you happy. (Ha! Why do we always assume happiness is the intention?)
Notice how none of the movies ever showed us what happens after the dramatic kiss?
The problem is so much of our culture hammers into our heads this view of marriage as some ultimate end goal. It starts early. Every kiss may begin with K, but it never ends.
When you're a pawn in the marriage institution, as the men in most traditional families are, it's very hard to feel like you haven't been spoon-fed lies so heavy that you're drowning in them.
Then, you try to tell your nephew not to do it, and he just laughs. Oh, Uncle Jim.
4. We know what we want.
I like this little life I'm carving together, I like that it changes frequently, that it doesn't get stale.
I also know that I wouldn't be able to handle monogamy, that any attempt at it would hurt someone who does. I've seen it happen, again and again.
I also know that this rapid libido, this gene-deep need to be solely in charge of my own life, is chemical. It's natural. It's biology. (I'm not saying exclusively male biology; it's young adult biology, its human biology, it's a need to not know what the day will be like when you wake up that isn't exclusive to any particular sex).
I just want to be a bachelor forever.