Marriage Doesn’t Have To Suck

Well so I went to a wedding of a good friend of mine this weekend and had a blast. It was a gorgeous day, the ceremony was beautiful (not too long), and the reception afterwards was fun. I spent time catching up with friends and meeting some nice new people. Yup, I drank free booze and macked on the chicks, although unfortunately everyone was married or in serious LTR’s. Not a target rich environment, as they say.

This is not a field report from a wedding. I read a couple of interesting posts on marriage the next day and I felt moved to write about the marriage process and my perspective on weddings. The first post was Holly Hoffman’s here about 7 year marriage contracts, which I thought was an interesting idea. Her post is a response to something Adam Gilbert wrote here where he weighs the pros and cons of marriage. Be sure to scan the comments, his readers got fired up.

Marriage and Sex

First off, I want to say that YES I would get married, and I like to think that one day that is gonna happen. I’d get married for two big reasons:

1. An amazing emotional/spiritual/physical connection with my partner.

2. Bringing two families together. This is actually a big deal for me and I think it’s undervalued a lot of times when folks debate the pro and cons of marriage. I think that a marriage is as much about uniting families as it is about uniting a couple.

The legal and tax benefits mean nothing to me. I would probably do a pre-nuptial agreement.

I do believe in a life partnership, although the parameters I look for in a marriage are on the radical end of things. I believe in open relationships and I believe that even if you’re married, you should allow for safe and structured sexual relations with other partners. My main reasons for this are sexual variety and maintaining a finely tuned sex drive. I don’t want to argue about how my wife can/should fulfill all my fantasies in this space, but I do want to say that I’ve embraced my sexual nature, and that my sex drive is integral to my creativity and overall life motivation (read Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill for some interesting thoughts on this). I would likely be looking, fantasizing, and even attempting to sleep with other women if I wasn’t in an open relationship…which basically means I can’t get married unless it is, because I’m a proponent of total honesty. I believe I’m capable of compartmentalizing my need for sexual variety from my love for my partner, although I won’t know for sure until I’m actually in the relationship. Hey, don’t act shocked. There are plenty of swingers and happily married johns who would agree with me. Naturally, my wife would have the same benefit. Ideally, she would be bi and we could just have threesomes all the time.

I wouldn’t rule out a totally monogamous marriage either. My perspective is always evolving and I never know how I’ll feel until I get to that point.

Why I Hate Weddings: $$$

The big problem I have with weddings are the friggin sky-high costs associated with the entire process, from the engagement ring to the honeymoon. Is everyone aware what an average wedding costs? We’re talking $28k here, and some of them go past the $50k mark. My wedding from Saturday was in the low-20’s, and I’ve attended one that went over $40k. Fuck me, are you serious? A wedding ceremony might last 30 minutes and the reception goes for four hours or so and we’re spending twenty-eight large on what amounts to a ceremony, cocktail hour, dinner and dancing ? That’s insane. Let’s blow $5k instead and invest the rest of it or use it as a down payment on a house.

Here’s a great little website where you can get wedding cost averages in your zip code.

Hey, if you’re loaded and want to blow that kind of change on a wedding, more power to you, but for the most part I think it’s absurd. We need to stop spending so much money on these things and get back to the roots of what a wedding is: a ceremony of the uniting of two people and a party afterwards. For me, my ideal is to get married on the beach and throw a bash at the beach house afterwards. Then me and the wifey could fly to Costa or somewhere and really enjoy ourselves.

If you’re interested in reading a great blog post about the high cost of weddings and how to plan for them, try this one at the iwillteachyoutoberich blog. Also scan the comments for real life wedding stories and associated costs.

Lastly, I have to throw this quote out there from a commenter of the above blog:

The point isn’t to have the cheapest wedding possible. The point is to not think of your wedding as something that happens on another plane of reality from the rest of your life, and plan for it like you’d plan for any other major expense.

What’s the most expensive wedding you’ve been to? What’s your ideal wedding? Would you be open to having sex with partners outside your marriage?

  • http://www.worklovelife.com Holly Hoffman

    I think it can be taken too far, the DIY wedding. I went to one where the bride got her maids up at 5 AM the day of to set-up and decorate the tables with centerpieces she made and tie sashes she sewed onto chairs. It was hands-down the worst wedding I’ve been to – not because of that, but because everyone in the wedding party was so damn tired.

    I think that’s right where the problem lies. It’s about the wedding and not the marriage. I get that it’s supposed to be a special day, but how special could that have been? I mean, I’ve heard women talk about happy they were when all that “wedding stuff” was all over. Check out Monica’s comment on my post.

    My ideal wedding: While on vacation in Florence, we spontaneously decide to get married in a night-time ceremony at a historic basilica, just us and the priest. Or the same thing on a beach in Bali. Or at a temple in India. Just me and him, somewhere that means something to us. Then, throw a sweet party when you get back, allowing a month for everyone to make travel plans. Simple.

    As to opening it up to sex partners, I’d have to bow out. I’m just making sure my s/o can provide mind-blowing sex and is willing to do whatever it takes to stay that way… whatever that might involve.

    Holly Hoffmans last blog post..I Do – For Seven Years

  • http://honeyandlance.com/contact Lance

    Your ideal wedding is absolutely excellent…I never thought of that, but I find it as compelling as my beach idea. In fact, the intensely personal scene you’ve described and the spontaneity are even MORE appealing than what I had in mind. Nice.

  • http://twentyset.com Monica O’Brien

    Interesting.

    We used the money we got from wedding gifts as half a down payment on our house. We spent six months saving to match it, and then purchased. Thanks for alerting me of your post Lance!

  • http://dadshouseblog.com dadshouse

    I’m a dad with a teenage daughter. I shudder to think what her wedding will cost me. But… anything for my princess! (Ha. I’m just kidding. Though I do intend to not be totally cheap on her wedding day)

    dadshouses last blog post..Great First Dates and Horror Stories – CONTEST WINNER

  • http://tangoofconfusion.blogspot.com/ SheComesFirst

    Completely agree with you about the waste of ridiculous amount of money on weddings. My wedding, unfortunately, ran at a ludicrous 28K (and it was one of the most expensive weddings I have been to). I wrote about my wedding and my ideal wedding (not the same things) here: http://tangoofconfusion.blogspot.com/2008/02/my-wedding-and-how-it-should-have-been.html
    As you can see, we agree on the beach idea!
    I would have to say no to an open marriage. Despite all the drama that has been in my life (or perhaps because of it), I’m very much into being committed to one person, as long as it’s the right one.

    SheComesFirsts last blog post..Seasons my ass

  • http://honeyandlance.com Honey

    Over a year before I met the BF, I dated a married “poly” guy. It was a disaster, not because anyone was evil (though my best friend never liked the guy and insisted that he was a sociopath) but because, logistically, there is really no way to deal with that many people’s emotions/reactions/expectations effectively. Better to find one person who will be experimental with you in other ways ;-)

    Honeys last blog post..Marriage Doesn’t Have To Suck

  • http://cheekiebacktalk.blogspot.com cheekie

    Hmmm, well. My wedding was a total DIY’r. Except my dress, I drew the line there. But, divorced now, so whatever. LOL.
    It was a great party, and that to me is what a wedding should be, regardless of locale.

    I keep saying ‘I am never getting married again’ BUT…if I were, it would be a party, personal and absolutely no ridiculous expense for anybody, especially guests. I mean come on, silliness. Most expensive wedding I have heard of (and I used to be a photographer’s asst) – people put a 2nd mortgage on their house to pay for their daughter’s wedding. Not that it was the most costly, but I have a hard time with people jeopardizing their livelihood for that kind of thing. nutty.

    I guess for me, it would be whatever we decided on as a couple, that’s what would make it special. No fairytale-bride’s day bs.
    City Hall then party/ Vegas drive thru/whatever….

    Marriage DOES change the dynamic so much, in ways you don’t think it will. As modern as we think we are, marriage changes the way society/family views us and that is really hard to deal with. The expectation level increases tenfold…that’s why I say I would never do it again.

    cheekies last blog post..Planetary Mojo?

  • http://honeyandlance.com Honey

    I don’t care about the wedding, though the BF wants a big formal affair. He only recently realized that we shouldn’t get married in a church (always his dream) because we’re both atheists.

    However, upon hearing that we planned to have a vegetarian reception, a mutual friend of mine and Lance’s told me, “Are you crazy?! The wedding day isn’t about YOU guys. It’s about the guests.”

    Dunno if that’s the prevailing attitude or not, but it’s kinda sad to have to feel like you need to have a certain kind of wedding so other people will approve.

    Honeys last blog post..Congratulations to Me!

  • Me Thinks

    Hmmm… Well I have some perspective here in many ways.

    My ex and I opted to just go to city hall (in Chicago at the time) and just get married. It was actually really fun and then our friends had a huge party for us about a month later which was a total blast. But in retrospect, some of our family was a little bummed out that we didn’t have a real ceremony and I’m not sure it was the right thing to do. Felt right at the time, though.

    Now IF I ever get married again, my choice (there would be 2 people involved!) would be a little ceremony on a beach or someplace nice like that and invite only close friends and family. Then a nice vacation someplace exotic but cheap (Malaysia or Roatan or something). Then you could still have a big party with your friends when you got home to share with them. I would never have an expensive wedding, what a waste.

    Now on the open marriage thing – I think it depends on the couple. Honestly I have done it both ways and wouldn’t knock long-term monogamous marriage until you try it. If you really love someone and the sex is smoking hot, there is no benefit to going outside your marriage. That is not to say that at some point that couldn’t change. I would look more toward someone that is adventurous in the bedroom and isn’t necessarily bound by traditional roles, who would want to GROW TOGETHER sexually over the years regardless of who it is you are both climbing into bed with. One thing to note is that hot single chicks in a swingers world are not that easy to come by (thus the term UNICORN which I find hysterical).

  • http://honeyandlance.com/contact Lance

    I attended a vegan wedding reception and I have to also highly recommend adding meat to the menu to keep the guests happy. The vegan food was good for vegan, but EVERYONE was complaining about it during the reception, no one was full, and I’m certain the couple heard the grumblings while they were at the reception. What a total bummer, huh? I had to leave the reception early to run a half-marathon the next day and on my way home I stopped at a taco stand and got takeout.

    I really like Holly’s idea of a private ceremony in a foreign country…very exotic and adventurous. Upon return to the states, I could throw a huge bash at a rented beach house or a villa and trick it out with a big spread. Let’s ditch the formalwear and have some fun. Everyone here is invited.

  • http://honeyandlance.com/contact Lance

    Great perspective. I go back and forth on the open-relationship marriage thing, and I think I’m going to have to try an open LTR first to see if it’s even my thing. My perspective is purely based on theory at this point and not practice.

    I’m sure I’ll have mindblowing sex with my wife AT FIRST, but hey after 10 years or so things are going to get stale…it’s practically inevitable. Every single married couple I know has an inconsistent, uninspired sex life, and that really bothers me. What also opens my eyes are the older married guys I know (think 45+) who have confided in hiring professionals to service their needs. I know two guys like this, and they’re happily married, with no apparent desire to change their family life. They simply supplement their sex lives in secret.

  • http://honeyandlance.com Honey

    I hear you on vegan food…it’s why we’re veggie, not vegan, and we do eat fish so I could imagine a nice salmon or sea bass on the menu. Don’t dispair!

    I told the BF that I wanted to get married in Vegas–not a drivethrough wedding but something nice and classy, at the Bellagio or the Venetian, but sadly he said that his parents would have an aneurysm if we got married in Vegas. I don’t get why this matters as he’s currently not on speaking terms with his entire immediate family, but a wedding’s a long way off so it’s not really an issue.

    Honeys last blog post..Congratulations to Me!

  • http://honeyandlance.com/contact Lance

    If you do end up getting married in Vegas, consider the Lake Las Vegas Resort. It’s supposed to be stunningly beautiful and classy (probably pricey too). My pal Ari got married there his second time and he raved about how cool it was. See this link:
    http://www.lakelasvegas.com/

    Tahoe is cool too.

  • Me Thinks

    Yikes that hooker thing is scary stuff!

    I am friends with a couple, they got married VERY young, she was pregnant at something like 16 and they were HS sweethearts. They are now 30 and honestly are probably the happiest marrieds I know and they have a great sex life. They started swinging a little bit last year (that is how I met them :) but their whole thing is that they fool around together or sometimes only girl-on-girl (yee haw! what guy won’t oblige their wife that?), it makes their sex life alone better too. But there are plenty of ways to keep it interesting without doing that.

    I think the bigger problem is not the sex, its that people let their relationship get stale and happy couples like this are always working on it both in and out of the bedroom and they keep their LIFE together fresh and exciting.

  • http://www.worklovelife.com Holly Hoffman

    Awesome perspective, MeThinks! Someone “who would want to GROW TOGETHER sexually over the years” – I _love_ that. So often people talk about growing together emotionally, intellectually, blah blah blah, but why is that everyone thinks that your sexuality is supposed to stop growing once you get married? No wonder those guys are going to hookers (I agree – scary shit – and those guys are fucking pussies for not telling their spouses that their needs aren’t being met. You’re fooling yrself if you don’t think that’s a HUGE copout. Man up and tell your wife it ain’t happening and you need some leather and lube. If she won’t work it out, then suggest something else.).

    Holly Hoffmans last blog post..I Do – For Seven Years

  • http://honeyandlance.com/contact Lance

    I used to think the exact same thing about guys going to prostitutes (ie very bad), but I have since changed my attitude after doing a ton of research after the Tom Spitzer/Ashley Dupre kerfuffle and also reading the Letters from Johns site:
    http://lettersfromjohns.blogspot.com/

    I no longer think this. It’s a very complicated emotion to explain when it comes to the desire to have sex with another woman (besides your partner). I know for a fact I can compartmentalize the sex act from my love for my significant other, and also that it has very little to do with her per se. The closest analogy I can make is it’s like a sport; you simply hunger for it because of the thrill, the excitement, and the variety. In some guys, this feeling is extremely strong, and to suppress it is to suppress a part of your creativity, masculinity, and emotional motivation. In other words, what makes you a man and what makes you attractive and successful in the first place. There are reasons millions of men seek sex workers each year and that it’s the oldest profession…it would be short sighted to dismiss all of these guys as fuckups without exploring what the real motivations are.

    If I was married and I absolutely had to have sex with another woman, doing it with a pro is a far cry better than having an affair with a friend or co-worker. A threesome or arranged tryst would be even better, because it’s out in the open.

    Hey, Samantha from Sex in the City had sex with a lot of guys. She often talked about how she couldn’t have sex with just one guy. It’s something like that.

  • http://www.worklovelife.com Holly Hoffman

    I hadn’t really thought of it like that. I guess I was thinking about how I would feel about it – it would bother me, if I knew it was happening of course. Not out of jealousy per se, but of a genuine desire to have phenomenal sex, which in my mind requires both people thinking it’s phenomenal.

    I’m just not cool with it for me and my relationship. Although, maybe that will change – and that was my point with what MeThinks said. Maybe that growth involves moving to an open relationship. We don’t expect our partners to meet all of emotional and social needs; perhaps it’s naive to think that one person will meet all of our sexual needs, also. That’s why I like the idea of finding someone you can grow with sexually.

    Holly Hoffmans last blog post..I Do – For Seven Years

  • Danimal’s Wife

    My friend, you have not met the right woman. There are those of us who are monogamous but fun and sneaky and naughty. My husband, who is wise beyond his years and experience, states that happy men have two wives in one: the wild and the respectable. These women are rare, but they do exist. I surprise him without cause as he does me.

    Marriage is not a wedding. My wedding was a disaster. I would fill you in on the details, but audience reaction to my recounting is typically sympathetic and uncomfortable. As I don’t wish to make you so, I’ll spare you. Suffice it to say – we traded in a champaign jazz brunch for a bail bondman who was ordained, but tacky all the same. At the end of the day we had no home, and a community ravaged by a hurricane; but we were married. I’d do it again in my tube top and flip flops (ironically, they’re what he thinks of in his dream girl).

    He is my dream. I am his. Sex is us. We are sexy. No one else could ever stand in his shadow, nor in mine. We are all we ever wanted. When you can’t possibly do better, you marry. Never before then.

  • http://honeyandlance.com/contact Lance

    Excellent response…wow, probably the most passionate response we’ve gotten yet. I’ve heard of this wild/respectable concept, but I’ve heard it called “madonna vs. whore.” Haven’t experienced it at your level unfortunately.

    I’ll see you guys next weekend!! PARTY!!!

  • http://cheekiebacktalk.blogspot.com cheekie

    All I have to say is if, or when, or ever, it happens again to me…if I am lucky enough to find a guy who can and wants to keep that kind of sexual mojo going on, man oh man will I be a happy happy girl…

    cheekies last blog post..Amy winehouse – Fuck me pumps

  • Danimal’s Wife

    Surely you mean unfortunately.