Awesomely-Rad, LLC

it appears that all i do these days is read the new york times. and it appears that all the new york times does these days is publish articles about marriage.

in an interesting bit of coincidence, this weekend i received a save-the-date for the wedding of the first of my college friends to get hitched. i suppose the confluence of these events - plus the fact that my mom was in town this weekend, leading to the inevitable discussion about My Future, incorporating the inevitable element of Okay, So, When You Get Married, Here Is What Your Father And I Are Willing To Pay For (and its followup, the Dude, Mom, Can We Wait Until I Am At The Very Least Engaged Before We Have This Conversation) - should lead to some sort of sober meditation on my part about marriage in our society and/or a lively expression how incredibly kickass it would be to have a bluegrass band play at my wedding reception (note: seriously, wouldn't it?).

here is the thing: i don't know if i get marriage. not the notion of two folks committing to one another and having babies (or not) and a puppy (nonnegotiable) and being a familial unit; rather, the notion of conflating what is essentially a mutual contract-signing with an expression of ultimate romantic love.

setting aside the old barter-system standard of marriage representing the transfer of woman-property from her father to her husband, on which many typing fingers more eviscerating than mine have rained their criticism, marriage seems like it's one of two things: a religious act, or a political one. either you're doing this in the eyes of god - a church wedding [or synagogue or mosque or shamanic redwood forest or whatever]- or you're doing it in the eyes of the state, with a justice of the peace or seacaptain (note: awesome) or similar.

why do you have to go along with either? why can't you call it what it is, and just draw up a nonreligious, nongovernmental contract? why can't Jane Awesomely and John Rad just draw up something outlining the terms of their partnership, with specific detail about shared health benefits and who gets responsibility for the children, if there be children, and how they're going to deal with proportional income relative to proportional expenses, and who gets what were the contract to be broken by one party and who gets what if the contract is mutually dissolved? it's not about god, it's not about the state, and there's no universe in which some right-wing politico is going to claim that two men or two women don't have the right to sign a contract with each other.

this is horribly unromantic, i know. but that is the point: marriage is horribly unromantic. and measuring society by who is and is not married - especially when both NYTimes articles point out that a lot of the women and men who are unmarried are in cohabitational relationships, or are perfectly happy being single, or are widows, or are legally prohibited from entering into marriage because the vast majority of our nation's state legislators are utterly retarded - seems like a silly endeavor.

maybe my views on marriage will evolve when i, you know, get married. or reach a point where marriage is imminent and thus demanding of philosophical resolution. but i think that beyond cultural inertia towards the white dress and tiered cake, if you're interested in creating a contractual partnership - make a contractual partnership. but veiling (har har) financial considerations and healthcare decisions and the taking on of responsibility for another person's well-being behind this facade of deep, epochal, resonant love seems a bit... ill-advised? Especially when there's research to support the notion that infatuation and the early stages of love are nontrivially reminiscent of mental illness, perhaps to such a degree that you could be argued not to be able to enter into a contract with fully sound mind?

the gist of this one of the three (there are probably more) marriage-centric articles in the times seems to be on that level: drop the love-blindness, you idiots. pay attention to the reality of what you're entering into.

i like it when the Times and i can agree on things. it makes me think there is still hope for both of us. even if i am an unromantic wet blanket, and look bad in white. and i will give a shiny american dollar to anyone who can provide me with proof that they proposed/were proposed to with "i love you, and i would like to enter into a contractual relationship with you involving a shared healthcare plan and the joint ownership of property."


EL said...

But Helen. If you never get married, how in the world is JS going to bitterly refer to you as his ex-wife with any legitimacy?

That's what I'd like to know.

helen said...

oh no no no. i fully plan to get married. and it's going to be sappy and romantic and totally unlike the hyperrational approach outlined above. no worries.

James said...

So, maybe contracts are expensive, so we have an off-the-shelf model that we force people to use? It's really not too intrusive, it still leaves a lot to the couple to decide.

James said...

Oh, when I say "not too intrusive," I don't mean this in a normative sense. It's not very intrusive. I agree about same sex stuff.

ljd said...

a) please get married on a ship, and have a bluegrass band play at the wedding. In tribute to your Hungarian heritage, they could play, for example, the song about the McKinley assassination (White House Blues).

b) or dress up in costume as an actual bridezilla and have a wedding cake in the shape of Tokyo

c) in canada (land of the toque) you can choose between marriage or civil union, no matter your orientation, but you cannot be married by a secular official.

a lady said...

duh. point of marriage = it requires a wedding, which in turn requires gifts.

easy math.