Mailvox: is marriage worth it?

CW seeks for advice:

I am trying to figure out if marriage is worth it. I am also trying to figure out if dating is worth it. I was dating a man for 1 1/2yr only to have him end it because I could see us getting married and he couldn’t see it ever working for us. I am a divorced single parent and this man is the closest I have ever come to finding someone I thought I could spend my life with. The relationship was wonderful but for reasons that make no sense to me its over. Now I wonder, after having a string of horrible relationships and then having one that was so good not work out, what hope is there that I will ever find someone worth being with that will want to be with me too? I am still friends with him and he still treats me really good. I am at a lose to understand what he is doing. It was always a dream of mine to get married and have a lifelong love. Now I am afraid and my heart is hurting because I am slowly realizing this dream will never happen. Its like telling and explorer they can never go exploring again. Its a crushing blow.

Everything else I want in life I can attain because if I want to all there is to do is make it happen except this one thing. Marriage because it requires two people someone else has to be willing and I am scared I will never find that person.

Is marriage worth it? Well, I should say it increasingly depends on the sex and religion of the individual. In its present state-dictated form, marriage is very much worth it for women, it is a tolerable and necessary risk for religious men, and it is an incredibly stupid gamble for non-religious men. Was this man religious? If not, then you are not only dealing with whatever personal issues may or may not have been present, but also with the reality that you are asking him to stake his entire emotional and financial future on your passing fancies. That is problematic if you happen to be interested in men with IQs over 85.

As to the larger question, I don’t know that it’s entirely relevant. As a single mother, it very much behooves you to find a father for your child. That is more important than any questions of self-fulfillment or romantic stars, and anyhow, if you’ve had a long string of horrible relationships, it should be clear by now that the follow-your-feelings approach to acquiring a husband is probably not the optimal one. The good news, however, is that there isn’t just one perfect man that you somehow have to find and curse the luck if he happens to have been born in Tibet where he’s being raised to be a Buddhist monk sworn to celibacy and silence. More than a few of the three billion men on the planet are excellent potential husbands, the trick is to stop wasting your time on the non-starters. You shouldn’t need 18 months to determine that a man isn’t in the marriage market.

I really wish more men and women understood the concept of opportunity cost. Every day you waste with someone who has demonstrated that he is not a potential husband is one less day you have to meet a man who is. Don’t seek to change them, accept and respect their perspective and move on. The other important thing is to refuse to let the ideal become the enemy of the real. The man you marry today will not be the man you are married to in a decade, just as you will not be the same woman. Remember that marriage and love are as much processes as states.

As for the gentleman who delivered the crushing blow, I think it might be educational to have a frank conversation with him. Ask him not to let you down gently and fall back on generalities as he has done, but to explain precisely why he doesn’t see it working out. Make sure you let him know you’re not trying to change his mind, you simply want to know in order to avoid making future mistakes. Don’t argue, in fact, don’t even talk, just listen to him. The purpose is not to salvage the dead relationship, but rather to help you make more intelligent decisions about your next one. Yes, breakups can hurt, but feelings always fade with time.

I think I can safely say, as someone who never thought about getting married and never wanted to get married, that marriage can definitely be worth it. While I happened to be fortunate rather than intelligent in finding Spacebunny, that doesn’t mean that one can’t approach the process in an intelligent manner. The greatest challenge, assuming you don’t actually physically repel strangers with your looks, is that men are rightfully wary of gambling their future and family on momentary female whims. So, the more you make it clear that you will do everything and sign anything that will help reduce that unreasonable risk, the more likely it is that you will eventually find yourself in possession of a husband.