The Real Reason I’m Not Married

In seminary they tried to scare us into dating carefully by telling us stories about girls who dated Dr. Jekyll and woke up the morning after to Mr. Hyde. I believe men have their own versions of these timeless bedtime stories.

While I’m sure this does occasionally happen—for there must be utterly messed up and even psychopathic people out there (quite a lot of psychopaths, if one believes all the divorcees who have assured me they were married to one)—I think those unexpected body-snatching marriages end pretty quickly.  But when it comes to wonky marriages that last, I suspect something different is going on. After years of watching my friends pair off and be married, I am prepared to advance the following hypothesis: I think people pick people who allow them to perpetuate their neuroses.

This is how the friend with the habit of always making her life more complicated than it needed to be wound up with the OCD guy. The friend who was afraid of her own strength and ambition married the guy who nixed it. And the friend who was always pretty sure the world was out to get her married a guy who apparently is.

While my hypothesis is most obvious in poor to fair marriages, I believe, with further study, that it can be extended into the healthier range as well.  Just because they’re happy doesn’t mean they’re not neurotic.

But therein, methinks, lies my problem. If marriage is about choosing another nut-job who complements or aggravates your nuttiness, what do you do if you’re not nutty? Yes, I’m saying it out loud:

I’m just too well-adjusted.

Go ahead, guffaw. But even my therapist said so.

Seriously, though. Maybe I’m not quite normal, but who is? And maybe my neuroses can’t be complemented by a partner. Indeed—perhaps they require being single. In that case, I’m as happily married as any of you out there. My neuroses are happy, healthy, and fostered by my lack of partnership.

At least I didn’t need a wig and three kids to accomplish that.

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12 thoughts on “The Real Reason I’m Not Married

  1. i’m married and i’m totally buying the neuroses thing – on a more surface level, at least. i married the guy who didn’t make me feel silly about my fear of public restrooms. on the other hand, i have plenty of deeper anxieties that he tries vigilantly to uproot – like my shyness about professional networking or having house guests – and he has a few that i also try not to indulge as well – like being afraid to drive on the highway.

  2. It’s an interesting theory. In the more secular world, where people tend to marry later, they also seem more set in their ways. When I think about my friends who married later, the wife of one accepted his odd sense of humor while the husband of another accepted his wife’s actual mental illness (mild, thankfully). While my wife and I have quirks now, we began dating so young for conservative Jews (at 18) that our quirks had not yet set, so we sort of developed them together.

  3. “This is how the friend with the habit of always making her life more complicated than it needed to be wound up with the OCD guy. The friend who was afraid of her own strength and ambition married the guy who nixed it. And the friend who was always pretty sure the world was out to get her married a guy who apparently is.”

    Wow. I don’t know if you’re exaggerating for comedic effect or if this really is how you see your friends’ marriages, but does anyone else find at least two out of three of these examples really disturbing?
    Serious question: Do you have any married friends whom you admire, or at least respect? Your blog gives the impression that there’s this dichotomy of fun, smart, accomplished, interesting single friends and neurotic, self-obsessed, boring, stuck-in-a-rut married friends.

  4. Bad4:
    Perhaps you need to meet a few more normal guys, who are also perfect – that way you can start off on an even keel! They are out there…
    B’hatzlacha
    Anon613-London

  5. I’m not quite sure your theory is as revolutionary as you make it sound. Yes, people tend to form relationships with those who complement them. So people with unhealthy self image and habits who do not receive help/ devote serious effort to remaking themselves continue in their ways, and so yes, those who marry form unhealthy relationships that perpetuate their tendencies …and those who stay single retain those characteristics, too.

    And as far as those people who are well-adjusted and healthy? Well, those who marry form healthy relationships, for the most part, with healthy, well-adjusted people who bring out the best in them. And those who stay single probably stay well-adjusted too. I’m not sure what your point is here, really.

  6. I like your theory. Similar to Harville Hendrix’s theory (Getting the Love You Want.)

    Shira, of course she has happily married and successful married friends. I’m one of them!

  7. Sheesh. I mention three neurotic friends and suddenly I see my friends’ marriages in a disturbing light?

    They wouldn’t be my friends if I didn’t like and respect them. That doesn’t make them any less nuts. If you don’t have nutty people in your life that you like and respect, you are living a very boring life.

  8. Life is about spiritual growth and that is what marriage provides. Your choices are the pain of marriage or the pain of loneliness. This blog is probably masking the pain of loneliness. Why don’t you shut it down for a few months and see how well-adjusted you are then?

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