Legally, marriage can be the means to an end. In 2006, I married my friend’s lesbian roommate to someone in the bar where she worked, because I am a minister of the Universal Life Church and she needed to get on her friend’s health insurance plan for some terrifying dental surgery. The bar was empty and dust floated visibly through beams of late afternoon sunshine, the worst kind of light. I asked them the legally required question and they responded with the legally required answer. Print name, signature, signature, signature, finished: united in purpose.
In a few months one of my best friends will marry one of her best friends and I have been asked to play a bridesmaid for the very first time. I remember listening to the older married women in my family reminisce about their days as bridesmaids: single, girlish, worried. This is why I hate the phrase “Always a bridesmaid, never a bride.” Emotionally, marriage is not a means to an end. It stresses me out when people expect that certain things will happen. How terrifying is the idea that the world owes one a wedding? It’s a freaky concept, but I don’t know, I could be the freaky one. A palm reader recently informed me that I do not have a union line. However, he also told me that I don’t have a life line. Obviously this means I am a rounded-out loner freak. Take what you will from the mystics, am I right?
A ceremonial union requires a lot of maintenance in order to exist. Some truth: a marriage is a story that is told by two people and teamwork isn’t exactly a natural thing for many of us. I do believe in marriage and I do believe in love, but I also believe that it is unwise to expect anything from anybody. Expiration dates are not only inherent but also necessary borders between life and death. It’s okay. A relationship will run its course, it will be completed, and that will be all. Individual life spans, however, will always be flexible. There are many relationships that have and will achieve a traditional ideal, when the end point of the emotional bond coincides with partners’ physical deaths. These connections are special, and in no way are they an average model. Some people fall in and out of love frequently, while others are hesitant when it comes to closeness. If a relationship isn’t working anymore, that doesn’t mean that it failed. It’s over, it’s time to go, that’s all. Love is easy and love is tedious. Love’s a draw.
The best moments in a relationship with another person can make me feel the worst. A little voice will say “Please don’t go away. Please be this good forever.” Emotional highs are brief and although I want to hold on for as long as possible, I know that some kind of downward slope is on the agenda. When the golden time does end, the only thing to do is memorize what it was and keep that feeling with you. Remember that good times cannot be recognized without bad times around for the foil.
Every marriage, union, commitment ceremony, or whatever begins with some silent hope. To whisper “I love you”, is to make invisible wishes: please work, please survive, please don’t go away. If it doesn’t work anymore, it never will again. This is very sad, but failed attempts to resurrect the dead will result in deep and excruciating pain. Anything special that ever existed will be invisible beneath a stupid, shitty mess. I have learned the hard way that best course of action is to turn, walk away, and allow your relationship to die and rest in peace. I know that I struggle with this process. Nobody will respond: Where did you go? I can see you but I cannot feel you.
Ideally, the death of what you had together is understood and mourned for. It’s best to sit alone and remember the love that you had once shared, because it does deserve some final homage. Beware of denial, because it is not cute. Absolutely do not try and get back together. Post-death relationship will be forced to exist in zombie half-life until finally there is nothing left except sick bitterness and a worm-eaten corpse.
Please remember that everything will be okay because it has to be. Tell yourself that none of this is really happening until it isn’t happening anymore. Remember that commitment is dark and morbid: “I am yours and you are mine until death do us part.” Not only is this an eerie oath, but a rare truth. Commitment is a strong thing, too; one that assures trust, stability, and protection. I imagine that going hard in a committed relationship for several years is fucking tough and this is why it is important to recognize the accomplishment of the good togetherness that did exist, even if it does disintegrate before both your lives are over.