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Wedding Bell Blues

Marriage, independence, and Prince Charming

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Sometimes I really and truly wonder what makes men want to take the final plunge and get married. The older I get, the more I believe women get married for reasons that are totally opposite from men's.

If you ask men, they say women marry for money. Ask the women, they'll say men marry to have children. Men certainly don't marry for the sex, as all the Springer episodes featuring cheating husbands show. Besides, most of them will screw anything, so they don't need a "regular."

My mother taught me some very important lessons while preparing me to enter the adult world. She told me to stay in school and finish college; after all, men may date the bimbos, but they sure aren't into marrying them. She taught me not to screw up and have a child early in life, since the sad truth is that most men don't want to care for anyone's children but their own. Dress nice, never leave the house without make-up, and always act like a lady, whether you want to or not. Check, check, check.

As a woman who's held a marriage together for over 50 years, she should be the expert, right? Well, sit back, boys and girls. I'm going to tell the story of a dating scenario gone bad. Maybe someone else can explain it to me, because I sure as hell don't understand it.

Today I've learned that a former lover of mine, whom I was acquainted with for two years, has recently married. The real kicker is that we have dated as recently as a few months ago. I should be thrilled for the guy, but I'm not. I think only women would understand how I feel about this situation, mainly because if I told my sob story to a guy, he'd tell me I was jealous. Not true. Pissed off is a better way to describe how I feel.

This woman that my ex has stood before God with and pledged his enduring love and devotion to has been married twice before and has two children -- physical custody of neither, and I'm not even sure about visitation rights. She's a high school dropout who won't stop smoking dope long enough to pass a drug test to get a job. If she manages to get a job, she quits in two weeks. She's worked as a stripper, a cage dancer, and in a drunken rage, once actually admitted to her new husband that she got her last job by giving her boss oral sex during the interview. That doesn't even include her sexual trysts with other women while her husband is away on his business trips. A real class act.

Her prize? She gets a well-educated gentleman with an affinity for ski resorts, exotic beaches, and fine wines, and who won't hesitate to drop some serious cash. He likes to gamble, but is responsible about it. He won't take you out for dinner -- as a trained chef, he'll cook a dish at his place better than anything you'll find at a restaurant. A self-proclaimed type-A neat freak, you never have to pick up his laundry or worry about making the beds.

My mother always said life isn't fair, but seeing this guy marry makes me feel there's a curse following me around. I followed all of the basics, didn't I?

So where is this Prince Charming I'm supposed to be waiting for? I'm not kissing frogs anymore. I used to have a long list of criteria I looked for in men: I wanted someone with the bank account of Donald Trump, the humor of Robin Williams, the looks of Tom Cruise, and the sexual creativity of Mickey Rourke.

Now that I'm older, I look at life a little more realistically, and more important qualities like "breathing" start to make the list. The Trump-Williams-Cruise-Rourke combo doesn't exist. Not in my world, anyway. I'm beginning to encounter men who start off a date by telling the story of their latest health issue. Is this what I have to look forward to?

I mean, it's not like I sit at home alone every Saturday night, but eventually when a girl reaches her 30s, she has to wonder: Is this the way life is going to be?

Women are getting married later in life, and we're more focused on getting an education and establishing our careers -- too many women of generations past found themselves on the street after they were widowed or divorced. We can no longer count on getting child support if we have children, or alimony if we leave even the worst of marriages. The trade-off? Later marriages -- as a matter of fact, the number of women not getting married at all is growing.

Have women sacrificed companionship for financial stability? Seems like many of the women I've met got married young and turned stupid. They run the carpool to the soccer games and cheerleading practices in their American SUV life, but they're incapable of a single thought without their husband's input. They don't work, and therefore don't worry about the finances. They tell themselves they enjoy their Stepford Wife lives, and they're certain they'll live in paradise forever.

I'm convinced that one reason women like me are still single is because we refuse to conform to some man's version of what he wants in a permanent mate. I don't know if it's just me being bullheaded or a bitch, but I can't imagine letting some man dictate to me what I can and can't do with my life in order to remain in a relationship or marriage. From what I've seen among my very married friends, it goes way beyond my idea of "compromise for a greater good."

Being a single woman sucks, but it beats the hell out of asking permission.

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