You shouldn’t marry the woman you love. She’s too elusive. You might have met in another country or she doesn’t go to your school or work at your job. Maybe she’s far away or maybe she’s near by, but it’s best to just leave her be. I mean, what’s really the point? What are you accomplishing by chasing after her? There are billions of people in the world, so to think that she’s it, that’s she’s the one you want to settle down with, that she’s the one you want to spend long Sundays walking through parks with then reading together inside a quiet café as rain taps against the window, well, that’s just impractical, irrational really. Even saying she’s The One? Say it aloud. Do you hear yourself?
There’s no way you could uproot yourself, change the course of your life, and set sail to somewhere entirely new and unknown. No, best to marry your safe bet. The girl with whom you share superficial interests. You get a laugh each time you watch Amélie because you always end up kissing before you can finish it. It’s doesn’t even seem like a good movie, just something about a sad girl living alone. And these kisses never turn into making love. They turn into fucking. And when you’ve fucked her enough, you feel like you’ve achieved some semblance of manhood. But when it’s over you just want to roll over and go to sleep. You’re unsure why you feel so discontented with her, with your life, but push these thoughts to the back of your mind, there’s no reason to think about these things. You don’t have time to reflect.
When you wake up in the morning, you shower solemnly and wash yourself thinking never of the past but only of the future. Oh, what fantastic stability she will bring. She’d make a pretty good mother too, you think. Don’t ask for too much. Don’t ask that you could love coming home and seeing this girl. Don’t ask to have evenings where you stay up late talking about religion and philosophy and books and children and the world and what you want to discover together; don’t think about the mark you want to leave on this world not with two footprints but with four. Don’t ask for the type of days where passion and love mingle and coalesce for that’s something that happens only in fairy tales.
This is real life. Surely you’ve realized that by now. Marry her because your parents like her best or because she comes from a well-to-do family. Marry her because she sort of likes you and you sort of like her and to desire anything more than that would be unrealistic. Marry her and bring her to company picnics. Move up in your career, so you’re no longer an associate but now you’re an analyst; tie your happiness to these titles and base your success on what others think.
Don’t even think about taking the girl you love to Paris or Rome or London or somewhere beautiful and far away. Don’t think about going someplace where you could both escape your dull existences and together make a fascinating life where each day is full of laughter and intelligent conversation and unbridled exploration. Don’t think about taking jobs in a coastal town in the south of Italy where you could spend evenings swimming under the moonlight, reveling in your youth and vitality and love for one another, where the callings of adulthood cannot reach you for you are warm and contented together in your tiny apartment pressed up against a Mediterranean cliffside.
There’s so much more to marriage. Marriage isn’t about love. It’s about practicality and convenience and the two of you being in the right place at the right time. There’s no Prince Charming and there’s no Princess awaiting you in some castle. Your heart has been broken too many times to actually think that love is real. You may still have an inkling, a small spark of your soul that believes in love – but snuff it out! Snuff it out quick before it has a chance to explode into a raging fire that will have you leading your life with your heart and not a calculating rationality.
Real marriage is about deciding to become an adult. It’s about exchanging fun for responsibility and your aspirations for reality. You need to save up so you can afford a fancy wedding where you can invite your extended family and pretend to know family members whom you’ve never met. You need to move up in your career so you can show off your impressive business cards at your bachelor party so all the guys will know how you’ve really made it. You need to live without reflection so that when the pangs of regret come you can ignore them and think instead of keeping up appearances, of putting your best foot forward.
When these regrets do come they might be about living a life that was safe and boring, a life whose banality wore you out day in and day out. The woman you love might still be single in three, five or ten years, but then again, who knows, perhaps she’s decided to grow up, to marry that guy at work whose been asking her out for the last six months. Then she’ll have disappeared, moved to some farm in Montana or townhouse in Brooklyn or apartment in Paris.
She may soon be gone, but so what? You didn’t ever think it would be practical, smart, wise, or even remotely realistic to try to make things work, to try to find the one woman who made you happy in this one quick life we all live. No, better to not think about it. Better to go through the motions. Maybe have a midlife crisis. Buy a fancy car. Buy, buy, buy, until you can buy no more. And then, at no time, should you think that the woman you loved should’ve been the woman you married. Your life is stable. To others it appears perfect. Your children are nice looking. Things are okay. That makes you happy, right? Life is about going through the motions. It’s about ignoring the slow poison of regret.