Dear Ask a Man,
My boyfriend and I have been living together for three years. Recently, I brought up the idea of marriage. I thought he would just say, ‘sure, let’s do it.’ Instead, he reacted terribly and asked why I would want to ruin a perfecty good relationship. I can’t believe I ended up in this stereotypical scenario. What do men have against marriage, anyway?
Soon to be Single (or Married)
There are plenty of good reasons to marry. Tax breaks come to mind. Or if she has a bigger house than yours. And the data suggests that eventually men do come around to saying “I do”. But men also stay single longer, and by age 35, 1 in 4 of us will still be unmarried.
The myth, of course, is that men avoid marriage because of commitment issues. Let me state this clearly for the record: bollocks. Men easily commit – just look at the long suffering male fans of famously bad sports teams like the Chicago Cubs or the LA Clippers. We’ve stood by our losing side for years without getting a thing in return. That’s commitment.
It’s not that we don’t want to get married, it’s that we want to avoid it for as long as possible. And by “as long as possible” I mean that we’ll avoid it until we can no longer arguably do so. A single man can run around unshackled. He can come in at 2 a.m. and not have to muster a coherent excuse. He can sleep wherever he ends up falling down. He can leave his pants, socks and underwear in a growing pile and ignore the increasingly pungent, festering heap until his next “relationship” begins. Who would want that to end?
Eventually, some things become too hard to continue. To spin Oscar Wilde, men marry when they get tired of trying to avoid it.
Remember, men don’t have any clocks ticking. Whether we’re 20 or 80, our little swimmers will hit the water at full speed and head for the target (providing, of course, we can still get in the pool). We have no internal need to rush it – but try telling a woman that.
The fact is this: men don’t need marriage. The lack of necessity means it’s simply never at the forefront of our thoughts as is, say, golf, or what will happen with Two and Half Men next season. It’s not until The Ultimatum that we look up and go, “huh?” What the hell was that about? We may be dense in the matters of love, but we become very alert when we know the end is near. And the end is always near when The Ultimatum arrives. The Ultimatum means that a trip to the proverbial altar is required for the fun stuff to continue. For a man to say “No, we’re not going on that trip” is the same as saying, “Thanks, please continue without me.”
And because we are also the weaker sex, very few men will take the rocky road that inevitably must be traveled to avoid marrying a woman who wants to be married. That is why we end up with rings on our fingers, and photo albums full of people we can’t remember at an event we never talk about (truth: not a single one of my married male friends has ever talked about his wedding. Really, why go there?)
Here it is, the sum of a man’s thinking on marriage: I like her, I like being with her, to stay with her I now have to marry her; not really what I was hoping for, but what the hell.
What kills me is that women are so very good at getting men to marry them. That men actually think it was their idea to propose in the first place is the greatest con ever perpetrated on, well, mankind.
Full disclosure: I’ve avoided marriage for the 22 years I’ve been with my partner. She simply hasn’t gotten around to The Ultimatum yet. I suspect she’s waiting to see how I turn out.
Category: Ask a Man