I began to write this story, and something else came out. So, this is for my baby girl. An unrealistically specific and thorough check-list if you choose to marry a man.
“You’re married right?”
“How long have you been married?”
“Wow, really? How old are you?”
“I’m twenty-six. We got married young.”
“Do you have kids?”
“No. We actually just got married because we love each other. Pretty strange, huh? We got married young and I wasn’t even pregnant.”
“People always say marriage is work. Is that true? Is it work?”
I had this conversation with a nineteen-year-old girl, eight years ago, and it stuck with me.
We were sitting in the common area at our local community college, both waiting for a Humanities class to start. I was an “older” student returning to college. I was old but still young enough, cool enough to talk to, and ask life advice. I really liked the girl too. She was pretty, smart, and most importantly, funny. I explained to her that all human relationships take work. What I really wanted to tell her was to stay single as long as possible. Of course, I wouldn’t want her to overlook her life’s great love in hopes of landing someone better. “Be picky but not too picky” is the best I usually advise, as unhelpful as that is. More importantly I should have told her to never ever get married before she’s twenty-five. While we’re at it, try to marry a man five years older than you, but no more than six years older. This would be ideal. Perhaps I should have just said:
Marry when you are twenty-five.
Your husband should be thirty.
Ideally he should come from the same socio-economic background, and should love and respect his mother. Although, he shouldn’t value her opinion over yours.
-Be kind, smart, funny and honest, bonus if he can dance.
-Think you are smart, funny, honest and kind, and want you to dance.
-Own tools but also write love poems.
-Never disrespect you in a sexual manner or share personal details about your sex life with his friends.
-Be jealous without being controlling.
-Find you beautiful, even if you gain weight. Even better if he buys you jewelry or clothes simply for the pleasure of dressing you up, but he should NEVER tell you what to wear.
-Never tell you who to be friends with, where to work, what to study, or who to be.
-NEVER (not even once, not even when he’s drunk) lay a finger on you in a violent or angry manner.
-Share your religion and politics as these beliefs are part of his greater world view and therefore very important. If this isn’t entirely possible he should at least agree with your stance on abortion.
-Have the utmost respect for your reproductive power as a woman. If you were to become pregnant on accident his first response should be, “I will support any decision you make.”
-Be a motivated, hard worker. He should be successful. Success is a symptom of hard work. It is up to you how you wish to interpret that.
-Not break the law. He should NEVER EVER have a drug or alcohol problem. I will tell you that a man with an addiction will FOREVER have you at his mercy. Run far away from this type of man. He will age you, he will suck all the joy from your existence and/or he will pull you into his addiction. Do NOT allow any person to take your life from you this way. It is not your job to fix anyone, no matter how much you love them.
Until you have a child your only responsibility on this Earth is yourself. Enjoy this time, it doesn’t last. Do not choose a man that needs a mother, because once you become an actual mother you will learn to loathe his existence. He will be a drain on your already exhausted body and mind. He might not necessarily make lots of money but he should have a desire to support you. That being said, he should also support you in your career. His career shouldn’t come first, even if he makes a lot more money. He should understand that being satisfied as an individual is part of the larger joy of life. Career and identity play into this equally. If you choose to stay home when your children are little he should understand what a very difficult job that is. He should never grow accustom to you always being home. He should praise your sacrifice. He should never view his work as more important than your work at home.
He should be your best friend, your dance partner, the keeper of your secrets.
And perhaps, most importantly, he should be good in bed. Because really, if he’s not, you’re better off as friends.