After a couple years of sending my girlfriend a clear message of, "We're never getting married," I proposed. There are reasons it took me so long to come around, but none of them fell into those magazine/sitcom stereotypes (which can be summed up as, "He's having too much fun screwing around and doesn't want to commit").
In fact, I'm pretty sure that the people who write sitcoms and jewelry commercials and movies about bachelor parties don't have any goddamned idea how actual human relationships work. So for the women who have been conditioned to believe that we men are afraid of commitment because we don't want to give up our seat on the Saturday Night Fuck Train, allow me to give you the real reasons marriage scares guys.
#5. We're Flooded with Anti-Marriage Messages
I can't name many comedians who haven't made fun of marriage in a negative way. I think the most famous was Sam Kinison, who was in so many fucked up relationships, he made it his goal to "save" other men from it.
Now, given, Sam made the whole topic pretty goddamn funny, but then every comedian who has ever taken a stage decided to give their version, and before you knew it, the entire industry is saturated with, "You know what sucks about marriage?" No, what sucks about it, angry guy on a stage? Does the sex stop? I bet he's going to tell us that the sex stops. While you're at it, what's your opinion of airplane food?
I've heard the joke about "fucking the same woman for the rest of your life" since before I knew what it meant. Oh, hey, look -- here's Vince Vaughn making the joke I've heard so many times, my reaction is considered a form of bulimia.
The point is that when you're immersed in this message long enough, it's easy to start believing it, yourself. And that message is everywhere. From the cliche sitcom best friend who freaks out when he hears that his buddy is engaged, to beloved comedians who are actually married, like Chris Rock, talking about how boring and sexless it is.
And that's not to say that it isn't funny. One of my favorite sketch shows, Mr. Show, pulled it off beautifully. But after a lifetime of standing in dead fish, it's impossible to not absorb the smell.
Mmmmm ... marriage.
This may not sound very logical to you, and that's perfectly understandable. It barely makes sense to me, and I'm a dude. But it's the no-magazine, no-bullshit truth. We're afraid of marriage because we smell like dead fish.
#4. Ridiculously Expensive, Lavish Weddings
Men aren't totally disconnected from the idea of a wedding. We understand that it's important for not only the couple, but for their families. Our marriage is linking two entire groups of people, and yes, they deserve to bear witness to that ceremony. We also understand that those invitations are more than just a piece of paper that says when and where it's going to be held. It's telling the person, "You are important enough to me that I want you involved in this celebration." And to anyone who didn't get one: "You are a fucking embarrassment, and we don't want you anywhere near us on this day." We get that, and we're fine with it.
But every time we add another name to that list, we can hear our bank account go from a trickling, high-pitched squeal to that farting sound a balloon makes when you let it go without tying the end.
Let it go, man. You're trying to save the boat by draining the ocean.
The average wedding in the United States costs $27,000. That's not counting the honeymoon -- that's just the ceremony and the reception. That's because in every movie, every TV show, every magazine, the message is very clear: A wedding has to be fancy to the point of evaporating an entire year's salary. Even the most simple service shown in movies is something that in reality would cost five figures. It's become a necessity. Just another part of getting married. The fact that "wedding planner" is an actual job is a testament to that.
Men, on the other hand, feel like failures if they can't financially provide that type of a ceremony. But that's understating what a double edged sword it is for us because on one hand, if you can't afford to give her a wedding that makes her feel like royalty, you're inadequate. But if you do pull it off, you're now left with a debt on par with a brand new, zero-miles car -- you've failed your new wife as a responsible provider.
Oh, wait. The father of the bride is supposed to pay for all of that, right?
Here in the farming region of the Midwest, $27,000 is more than most people make in a year. Asking a woman's father for his approval is hard enough -- but asking him to shell out enough money to move into the townhouse Courtney Love was recently evicted from? What kind of balls are required for that?
No, the days of the father paying for the wedding are over. Especially in an economy where people are having to shave down their lifestyles in favor of survival. Dumping tens of thousands of dollars into a one-day ceremony is not only unreasonable, but impossible for an average person to do alone. And every bullshit story we hear about other weddings just makes us cringe.
"Yeah, keep on smiling. I'm getting anal after all this."
Recently, one of my fiance's coworkers told her that a good way to reduce the price is to go with "alternative props." For instance, instead of buying sterling silver candle holders for the Unity Candle (whatever the hell that is), she and her husband opted to pour two different colors of sand into a jar. That way, they made the same symbolic gesture, and got a nice memento to boot. The sand only cost them $50. The jar was $100.
Wait, what? Fifty bucks for goddamn sand? A hundred bucks for a jar?
See, stories like that scare us. We as men don't need or want the huge, showy production of a wedding. We do it because we know you want it, and you deserve to be put on a pedestal. We know this day is about you. But the mere thought of all that money just up and vanishing for a 30 minute ceremony and a couple hour reception is just seems ... retarded to us.
"That'll be $200. And there's nothing abnormal about that at all."
#3. We Compare Our New Relationships to Old Ones
One of the top reasons we've given for men being afraid of marriage is one perpetuated by magazines like Cosmopolitan or shows like MTV's Guy Code, which is so bad, it'll give you chlamydia. They tell us that guys are afraid of not just marriage but the general idea of commitment. According to them, we just love to fuck every woman we see, every second of the day, and committing to one person ends that ability.
Now while I concede that those men do exist in the world, you have to understand that they make up a fraction of a percent of the male population. It's a personality type that the entertainment industry finds fascinating, so they focus on it ... and I can't really blame them. Who wants to watch a reality show about an average looking, normal guy not getting laid for six months?
"This week, on Steve ..."
The average guy doesn't have a line of women sitting by the phone, just waiting for him to call so they can be blessed by his awe-inspiring ass tamer. No, the truth behind our fear is far less stupid.
Men are creatures of habit. We like to find a nice comfortable routine to live in and stick to that. The problem is that over years of building our patterns, we've come to expect certain inevitabilities from relationships. Obviously, we've never had one that worked because if we did, we would have never found you -- we'd still be with one of our past girlfriends.
So over time, we've come to learn that the pattern of all relationships is "meet, date, commit, break up." Even if it's not a conscious thought, right at the forefront of our brains, it's still there. Because of this, the mere idea of marriage is foreign to us. We're not thinking about the fact that marriage means "committing to stay together forever." We're thinking, "Won't that make our eventual breakup a hundred times harder?"
"Is ... is it because of my sweater?"
Now don't get me wrong here -- we're not sitting around, planning a future breakup. Far from it. We've just become conditioned over years to assume that X + Y = Z ... where both X and Y equals "sex followed by breakup." And Z also means "sex followed by breakup."
Adding marriage to that formula seems like an extra layer of complication that makes it that much harder to decide who gets the Xbox when we're packing our shit.
And it's not that all of our past relationships were agreed upon to be month-long flings. They all started out with the best of intentions, just like with you. But over time, things happen. The impression stage wears off. People fall out of love. You find out that the woman you're with likes to wear the skin of her fallen enemies. Or you find out that all the stupid shit you're doing makes her think of you as her 14-year-old brother. My ex wife and I didn't realize that we weren't right for each other until three children and a decade after we tied the knot. And that's even taking into account that we were making a concerted effort to make things work.
I may have gone a little overboard.