What’s a man to do about marriage?

I told myself upon starting this blog that I would only write about topics pertaining to my age group that randomly appeared to me during the day. I also assumed that these topics would not appear to me very often, but you know what they say about assuming. I made a joke about getting married to a dear friend of mine, because in the past week alone I attended three weddings, of which I was a part of two. She offered up the phrase, “Don’t you still feel like a kid? Wouldn’t it freak you out to get married? How do they do it?” I had thought about the fact that all of my friends were getting married recently, but it only just occurred to me when she asked those questions what they were really doing. I can give easy answers to those three questions: yes, absolutely, and I have no idea. I really feel like these questions need a more in depth answer, as I know many young men that have many different views on marriage, some flawed, and some functional. It is also my view that every young man should hold some view on marriage. Here lies mine as it pertains to my immediate life.

1. “Don’t you still feel like a kid?”

Alright, I’ll go ahead and say it; “OF COURSE I STILL FEEL LIKE A KID!” There. That feels better. I often still indulge in the nostalgic bliss that is child-like activities. Going outside and finding weird animals and exploring places was something I did often as a boy, and something I still enjoy to this day. I would give anything to be a kid again. That’s why I enjoy being in the company of children so much. Seeing young people running around and playing as if the world only exists for that moment bleeds over to me. It’s like they unknowingly share the joy. If you frown around a bunch of happy children, then you are not human. But what does this have to do with the fact that all of my friends are getting married, and i’m not? That question just leads to another question. If you were to get married, wouldn’t you want your fianceé (or fiancé for the ladies) to love like a child? Don’t you want it to be random and unpredictable, and, dare I say, fun? This leads to a more in depth answer to that first question. Do I still feel like a kid? Heck yes I do, and I think that’s an often over-looked quality in a world driven solely by fiscal and societal success. Of course, one must balance it with maturity, and that goes without saying. Keeping a level of child-like fun in the mix is something that I have seen of all good marriages. They act like annoying little kids, but boy are they happy.

2. “Wouldn’t it freak you out to get married?”

Simple answer? Absolutely it would. But I have no interest in simple answers. From what little I do understand about marriage from observing others, if you don’t go into it completely scared out of your mind, then you’re not doing it right. It’s declaring your love for one woman for the rest of your life and swearing that no matter how many times she burns the same meal or throws away your favorite pair of underwear that you will still love her unconditionally. That scares me to death. But what if I fail? What if I don’t meet my spouse’s expectations? What if she asks me to fix the leaky kitchen sink, which I don’t know how to do, ultimately leaving me feeling emasculated? Sounds ridiculous, right? That’s because it is, but these types of questions pop up in our minds when we want to do our best for someone. We’re so afraid of failure, but how else are we going to learn? We’re men, we can’t be told anything, and it’s about time we realized that. Failing is improving, and if you aren’t continually trying to improve your marriage, you aren’t much of a husband. Pretty bold statement for an early twenties single guy isn’t it? Then prove me wrong. I am absolutely terrified of marriage, but I’m not afraid to fail, and I dang sure am not afraid of improving myself. I honestly can’t think of anyone I would rather fail with than my (future) spouse. After all, who’s going to be there to lift my stubborn butt up when I do?

3. “How do they do it?”

Heck I don’t know. That’s the short answer. As I am not married, I can only guess as to how they make it work (which is what I’ve been doing this whole time anyway). But really, though, how do they do it? How do they up and decide that at the ripe age of 21 or 22, fresh out of college and into this less than enthusiastic job market, that now is the time to make that commitment? Maybe it’s because I’m single, but all I really think about is my education and the repercussions it will have on my future success (see, I told you I was selfish). I think about all of the things that I am involved with outside of being a full-time student, and then I try and imagine what it would be like to squeeze in a serious relationship and my mind proverbially explodes. These people are trying to start successful careers, graduate college, and settle down with the one they love for the rest of their lives?! It seems crazy. I have a million commitments, and a woman is not one of them, and I’m busier than I could ever imagine. Add a relationship to the mix and I imagine that I would go crazy. I say all of that to say this: I don’t understand it because I have never seen it. I don’t understand how love like that works simply because I have yet to experience it. I have seen love make people do some ridiculous things that have left me scratching my head and calling people idiots. But you know what? Everything turned out exactly as those people wanted them to. They have everything they want, and they are happier than they have ever been. How do they do it? They don’t, love does it for them, and that’s something that I just don’t understand.

So what do I know about marriage? That it’s scary. That’s all I know for sure. I can speculate all I want as to what it would be like at my current age, but in reality I don’t know. I base my views on what I have seen. I have seen child-like love in successful marriages, and I have seen fear in the eyes of a new groom. I have seen selfishness and loathing in unsuccessful ones. This leads me to believe that marriage is the most difficult change to occur in a young man’s life. It takes work. It means to stop making it about “I” and to start making it about “we”.  It requires a vast amount of time, devotion, and emotion, but it’s rewards are far greater than what it takes to reap them. I can’t believe i’m actually about to do this, but I want to end with a quote by Jane Austen out of Pride and Prejudice (don’t judge me), “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” When a man has everything else he could ever want, he realizes that he’s missing the most vital thing he’s never wanted, and I imagine that at some point I’ll think the same.

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