Why I Don't 'I Do'

Why get married when you can be happy?

As I sit here writing in my dimly lit living room—because yet another ceiling light has blown out—I think about marriage.

People ask me all the time, "Do you think you'll get married again, Susan?" The answer, "HELL NO!"

Now, that doesn't mean marriage is horrible or awful, revolting, abnormal, icky, exhausting or archaic (just to name a few things that come to mind). For many, it's not.

But, having done the veil and gown, walking down the aisle, vow swapping, ring placing, first-dance dancing thing once, I can honestly say I don't feel at all a need to do it again. 

I suppose the idea of being with one person "until death do us part" is a beautiful thought for many. And, sure, that theory made sense in the days when folks lived to 42 and looked 98.

But, today? Really?

Today when we have Botox and lipo, pole dancing and porn, the , Facebook, and the sexiest president ever sitting in the White House... are we seriously expected to commit ourselves  to sleeping with the same person until the day we die?

That's a tall order, and from where I sit, not a lot of people are having an easy go at it.

And, yet, there is still so much shame placed on couples who get divorced. Let's face it, people, the world still views divorce as a failure.

In my book, when two people have the balls to say, "It's not working, we tried, we had some good times, we have beautiful kids, but we're not happy anymore..." that takes a whole lot of courage. That, in my mind, is a success.

Better to be honest than to stay in a marriage, have an affair, bite your tongue at every moment, and go to sleep wondering, "Is this all there is?"

So, here it goes, folks—get ready to fire up the hate e-mails. says, "Divorce is not a failure. Divorce is a success."

Oh, boy. If people were outraged by me for dating my , I can only imagine what they're going to say about this.

But, look, just because I have no desire to get married again does not mean that I am anti-marriage. I'm not. I just happen to be pro-divorce.

I have known, met and seen many unhappily married couples. Couples who got married when Axl Rose was still sexy and skinny and touring in bike shorts. Couples who in the throes of one long Guns N' Roses concert popped the question during Sweet Child O' Mine not realizing that in a few years they'd be really living life to the tune of Welcome to the Jungle.

But, guess what? Axl got fat, left the band, became a recluse and now sings rap. If he can change (for better or for worse, far worse) why can't married people? And if married people do change and it just so happens they don't change together... why can't they quit the band?

I say they can.

You met as Democrats, now he's a Republican. You were a lawyer and he loved watching you in a courtroom, now you're a stay-at-home mom knitting baby clothes. He had hair...

I suppose I bring this up because the other night Hannah and I decided to eat at the new joint that just opened in Studio City. We got seats (finally) and next to us sat a couple, possibly in their 50s, married and miserable.

I mean, MISERABLE. The wife was nagging his ass all through the meal: "I like the other burger place better," "You call these caramelized onions?" "My bun is too sweet," "The patty has too much fat," and on and on.

And her husband just sat there, quiet, trying to eat the delicious burger he clearly was secretly enjoying but obviously far too afraid to show any joy over.

"I mean, you don't like it, do you? Do you like it?" she asked.

Oh, crap. What's he going to say? If he says yes, she'll make him sleep on the couch, and if he says no he'll have to stop eating and watch a perfectly yummy Umami Burger that he waited an hour in line for get tossed in the trash.

Instead, he mumbled, "It's (garble, garble, garble)..."

She was not only ruining the Umami experience for her husband, but I was ready to burst into tears as well because, honestly, I loved the burger but somehow I was afraid she would get angry at me too if she knew.

Now, through it all I didn't say a thing to Hannah. Being an expert at listening in on other people's conversations while still being fully engaged in the one I'm in, we just ate, laughed, drank our sodas out of the bottles and had the best date ever.

Yet, when we walked outside, my 9-year-old daughter turned to me and said, "Can you believe that woman next to us? I'll bet she nagged him into marrying her."

Clearly my kid has inherited my talent for multi-tasking at a meal.

As we walked home we talked about that couple, laughing at how horrible it all was, and wishing somehow we could've adopted his ass and taken him home.

But, something about it was also extremely sad and real to me.

As I tucked Hannah into bed and kissed her many times over "good-night," she looked at me and said:

"I bet she's still nagging him. Poor guy."

I looked at her and gently smiled,

"Baby, don't ever marry someone that treats you like that."

Here's the thing. Just because I won't get married again doesn't mean I don't want my daughter to experience falling in love, being a bride, having kids and growing old with someone. I absolutely do. As long as she's happy. Cared for. Respected. Loved.

And if she's not... she will always know there is no shame in divorce.

As for me, I may not have any desire to be a Mrs. again but that doesn't mean I wouldn't like to have a partner. Someone to share my dreams with. Someone to talk to at the end of the day. Someone who makes me laugh. And, most of all... someone to change the hard-to-reach ceiling lights.

That would be awesome.

Susan McMartin March 28, 2011 at 05:08 PM
thanks, deanna! and yeah for us who have the courage to walk away when it's wrong!
Joy A. Kennelly March 28, 2011 at 05:31 PM
It always deeply saddens me when divorce is held up as a victory, a better way of life and marriage is discounted, marginalized and mocked. There are so many positive aspects to marriage it's one of the main reasons I've been very careful about not marrying the wrong person and want the man I marry to be my final partner in life. Yes, that's idealistic, but I believe in the sanctity of marriage implicitly. However, don't just take my word on it being a positive, life-affirming action to commit to live in, consider these articles which point out the financial, emotional and physiological benefits as well: http://people.howstuffworks.com/marriage1.htm http://www.nytimes.com/1995/04/10/us/studies-find-big-benefits-in-marriage.html http://www.newyorkprobateestateadministration.com/2011/03/financial_benefits_of_marriage.html http://catholiceducation.org/articles/marriage/mf0084.htm "Married couples have higher incomes, longer lives, better health, less violence, less alcohol and less poverty." Also, "Women who are shacking up are four times as likely as wives to become victims of violence, and their children are 40 times as likely to be abused by live-in boyfriends as by their own parents." Don't believe me? Read The Case for Marriage by Linda J. Waite and Maggie Gallagher which you can buy on Amazon here: http://amzn.to/aYwqqV Divorce affects children the most and creates a broken generation of kids with forever ramifications. I can't celebrate that. It's too sad.
Irene Tassiopulos-Lyle March 28, 2011 at 05:36 PM
I, for one, have never viewed divorce as a failure. I completely understand how, when faced with that situation you self you could lump that on to your already battered self, but that notion seems as outdated as when "colored people" weren't allowed to sit at the same lunch counter as "whites." People live longer now, so it only makes sense to me that some couples would find themselves headed in different directions with newly emerging needs and wants. I've been married for 15 years and been together for 20 and we have faced some dark days but have somehow emerged stronger and closer. Don't know why we made it through (and hopefully will continue to see our way back to each other during the storms) but we have. We got married older and have similar backrounds...but who knows really. I do know that I still love him dearly and enjoy sitting on the couch at the end of a hard day with him. I will say this..I got me a good one and I definitely married up. Here's an example: Each night when he sets our house alarm and Im already in bed he cups his hand over the speaker part-- so when the voice announces "House Secure" in possibly the loudest mechanical voice known to man--he doesn't want to disturb my sleep. He then stands there another 30 seconds when it's announced a 2nd time (completely annoying and always startling) and puts his hand over it again. Come on...how sweet is that? So he's a good guy..that helps ;-) Thanks for the article! Really enjoyed it.
Susan McMartin March 28, 2011 at 05:40 PM
he's a keeper!!!
Susan McMartin March 28, 2011 at 05:41 PM
like i said, i'm not anti-marriage. if a marriage is healthy, honest, happy, loving, respectful - fantastic! but many aren't and yet the shame of being divorced seems to carry more weight than the decision to live a healthy, honest life. how many kids are affected by growing up in UNHAPPY households - wishing their parents would split up? many. there are just as many negative results to staying in a bad marriage as there are to leaving a bad marriage. my point is simply that it's time to lift the scarlet D off people's chests.
Rabia March 28, 2011 at 10:51 PM
The author of this article needs to do some research before she presents her ramblings to the world. Axl Rose is now 49 years of age and looks good for his age. If he is "fat" then the vast majority of humanity is uncontrollably obese. Also Axl never "left the band"- the other band members did at different times, in different years. Rose was the founding member of the band and to this day is carrying it forward with "new" band members who aren't so new actually- most of them have been in the band longer than the Appetite for Destruction line-up. As for him "singing rap" now, that's the biggest falsehood out of the entire bunch. He sings in his signature style. Consider this song from Chinese Democracy from a 2010 show and PLEASE tell me what part of this is "rap". http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0d72EzsYZtk Next time, make your arguments using evidence that is actually accurate.
Susan McMartin March 28, 2011 at 10:59 PM
rabia, thank you for giving me the complete history of axl rose. i believe his weight, his looks, his voice and his music are all in the eye of the beholder.
Rabia March 28, 2011 at 11:27 PM
Actually, no. You can have whatever opinion you want on Axl Rose. But the statement that Axl does NOT perform rap and did NOT quit Guns N Roses is not in the eye of the beholder . Those are just basic facts, something that I think one should keep in mind when com sharing one's thoughts on a public forum, rather than disregarding in cavalier fashion. I think you should acknowledge your mistake and correct the article. Journalistic ethics demand that from you.
Irene Tassiopulos-Lyle March 28, 2011 at 11:44 PM
I'm actually somewhat shocked that someone who follows Axl Rose with such passion and fervor, has time to even read patch articles! Kudos to your mulit-tasking, Rabia! You can now return to your tape deck and enjoy Paradise City guilt free knowing we are all set straight. Phew.
Susan McMartin March 28, 2011 at 11:55 PM
i've never had such a desire to do an entire column on the history of axl rose as i do now! guess i now have my subject for next monday.
Irene Tassiopulos-Lyle March 29, 2011 at 12:38 AM
And I know who your fact checker will be!
justin forbes March 29, 2011 at 03:55 AM
HA!!! I for one have never been married...and I consider my life to have been an 'unconventional success' in other ways as well. I've just been one to shy away from paperwork and if celebration of love is in question, it need not be. I have celebrated my love with the S.O.'s in my life. I have seen marriage work in others lives and mess up the lives of those not honest or ballsy enough to know when to say when. I love this angle and find myself nodding in agreement. I love this authors voice, and that is what she brings is HER OPINION in a colorful, honest way...KUDOS!!! Another fine read, and wow, some of us need to remember that it is just one voice with reference points and artistic license all her own. Fact check??? Is that really necessary? I feel someone may need to get laid (Rabia) and just lighten up...
Joy A. Kennelly March 29, 2011 at 05:26 AM
Justin, You crack me up because it's always a man's opinion that a woman needs to get laid when they disagree with their opinion. I also love how you live up to the old adage: "Why buy the cow, when you can get the milk for free?" Happy philandering! I'm sure the women in your life love your sense of commitment and can't wait to "get laid" by you!:) I agree, this article is one person's opinion, but her title hit me wrong. Also, I really don't see any scarlet letter "D's" when divorce is so common these days and newscasters announce Christina Aguilar's end of her marriage by saying, "she's free." I'm just presenting an alternative view that isn't as popular in today's free sex, no commitment, nothing has a cost, our society isn't affected by fatherless children environment because it is untrue. My friend is doing a doc on Fatherhood and the stats are shocking on how single parents and the lack of positive father's involved in their children's lives affects society as a whole. I am also serious about this topic because the concept of marriage is thrown away so flippantly these days. I laugh often and a lot. I also enjoy hearing Susan's perspective because you're right, it is hers. Long live diversity of opinion and perspectives in America and on Patch.:)
Susan McMartin March 29, 2011 at 01:58 PM
joy, you would think that the scarlet 'd' didn't exist but it does. do you know how many people don't get divorced because they don't want to upset their family, friends, social structure? i can't tell you how many times i've heard people say, "i'm unhappy, but if i get divorced it will kill my parents." my columns are always told with humor, but on a serious note when my marriage ended i lost friends, and got judged big time by certain family members on both sides. as for father's -- you're right that there are many absent dad's but how many times have you also heard a child grow up and say "god, i wish my parent's had split up when i was kid -- they hated each other" or "my dad and mom were married, but he was cheating the whole time" or "my mom never smiled". marriage is a great thing if it's working but for many (and i mean, MANY) it's not. but so many stay "for the kids" "for the family" "for the pictures on the walls and the house and the cars and the business" and on and on. my daughter is getting the absolute best of both her father and i. but if i had stayed in that marriage she would be growing up in a very, very toxic unhappy home, i so appreciate your opinion. there are many sides to all of this. it's why i'm fascinated with someone who reads this article and decided to rant about axl rose! ;-)
tamar March 29, 2011 at 08:23 PM
Just for the record, I've got no problem with divorce. or philandering or Axel Rose, even if he's a fat rapper. I've never really cared for his voice. or his dance moves. But that's neither here no there. I just thought that no discussion of the merits of married life was really complete without reference to the importance of insect removal benefits. I'm just a romantic like that.
Susan McMartin March 29, 2011 at 09:20 PM
i love your idea of romance, and i feel your comments truly added to this entire column! i think in vows it should be written, "do you promise to remove all insects - big and small?" thanks, tamar! ;-)
E.M. Fredric March 30, 2011 at 04:09 AM
I think if I had put as much effort into choosing a husband as the thoughts behind bringing a child into this crazy world, I would've had one hell of a relationship! Mine died and haven't remarried but I've realized that raising a child without a parent 'solo' - not single - is almost impossible to do without a lot of help from mentors that I'm thankful for. Would I marry again? You betcha, even in a town where everyone is replaceable.. turn the old in for the new (which could be a month, a year or a decade) and where you can easily have triplets by age 70 if you choose to be a late parent. Marriage in this town is like rehab, you either want in or you want out.. although I've met a few couples and parents along the way that I am simply in awe of. I'd love to meet a person who wouldn't give up on me, like I never gave up on my kid. Easy? No. But the beauty of I got your back and you've got mine.. lets me feel another's pulse in my veins. I like that.
Kelly Lester March 30, 2011 at 05:09 AM
Never been to an Axl Rose concert, never listened to his music, wouldn't know him if I saw him... at any weight.... But your story about the unhappy couple in the restaurant reminds me of the couple we used to see almost every time we went to the old Soup Exchange in Northridge about 15 years ago. She had long gray hair and he had not much hair. I think they both wore glasses. They would bring their reading material and always sit in the same booth, quietly turning pages and engrossing themselves in whatever book they had brought along. Occasionally, one or the other would get up to replenish their plate from the ginormous salad bar. They never spoke to each other. Ever. My husband and I used to observe them and talk about them all the time, vowing never to end up like that. So far, so good. I dye my hair and we both wear contacts.
Lisa Stevenson March 30, 2011 at 12:26 PM
Very good article, everything you say is so true Susan, I was unfortunatley one of those kids who said out loud "I wish they would divorce" my Dad was verbally abusive, had affairs, and my Mom died an alcoholic, we begged her to leave him, and she stayed not out of love for him but because of being financially secure. I was married for 27 years, stayed for the same reasons you mentioned, for my kids, so I wouldn't hurt all our family and friends, and that statement "death do us part" it just ended a year ago and I still carry the scarlette D, your right on all fronts that you loose friends, your sadly judged that you didn't make it work, they sadly take sides, and it doesn't matter how old the kids are, it still was hard on them at age 25, my x and I are still awesome friends, and still do family gatherings, and the kids have accepted that we only love each other as friends, no one really knows what goes on behind closed doors, and if you can't make it work and be happy, then why are we judged by others? why can't we move on and be able to finally breath in peace and hapiness?? Why can't family and friends be happy for us for being able to do so??
Susan McMartin March 30, 2011 at 01:35 PM
kelly, you and your husband are one of the few married couples i deeply admire. your partnership to each other, your devotion to your children, and your passion shows the minute you both walk in a room. i can't imagine either of you being like the couple in the soup exchange... actually, i can't imagine you IN the soup exchange!! ;-)
Susan McMartin March 30, 2011 at 01:38 PM
lisa, thank you for your comment! it breaks my heart to hear the story of your parents. i'm so happy you and your ex have remained friends -- that is a huge success! i, for one, am celebrating your life choices! thanks for reading!
Rabia April 18, 2011 at 10:42 AM
Why Phew? Is there a convention on this site that if writers choose to write things that are completely false, the readers should just shut up and not correct them? Why act as if correct info is some kind of soul-crushing blow or an enormous burden? As for Justin's take on things, Joy Kennelly has already effectively answered his comment. Its interesting that in the past, pseudo-psychologists loved to diagnose all vocal women as victims of hysteria and even now, some continue to randomly assign all irritations that women ever voice to the domain of sexual frustration. But then evolution is a slow process for some. Susan McMartin, your defense is weak. Why should there be a problem if I read this article and responded to the claims about Axl Rose? What readers choose to highlight is not within your power- the "facts" that you assemble are. The point remains that the claims you made were false. If, for your next writing assignment, you dwell upon the limitations of monogamy and include claims about Pope Ratzinger being a member of a reformed Black Sabbath, then the fact will remain that you are reporting falsehoods. If the false references to Axl Rose werent the point of your article then dont include them. When you're making false claims, why be stunned on being challenged?
justin forbes April 18, 2011 at 11:36 AM
wow. please lighten up. Do you know if you had put this much energy into something that was actually worth while, you probably could nag a bill thru congress! Give it a rest, writing ALSO can be ART!!~!!!!!
Rabia April 18, 2011 at 07:30 PM
Actually a simple Google check would have sufficed on this occasion. But perhaps you are opposed to the concept of fact-checking in itself, considering the reaction you're having to the concept.
Rabia April 18, 2011 at 07:41 PM
Justin Forbes, its actually people here who seem to be having such a hard time accepting undeniably true criticism who need to "lighten up". Writing can be art but then it shouldn't frame itself as realistic social critique while making false references to real life individuals. If I wrote a piece on child abuse as a critical essay on a non-literary/journalistic forum and presented you as a child molester in it, I doubt you'll sing praises of the "artistic" qualities of the piece. Facts aren't just important while pushing bills through Congress, they've got more relevance to life than that.
justin forbes April 18, 2011 at 10:09 PM
It obviously would be a fiction piece...and a sick comedy piece. I doubt you would even be able to tell the difference. Wait, why am I wasting my time responding to you? Enjoy your misery.
Rabia April 19, 2011 at 10:27 AM
Justin Forbes, actually you're the one who seems unable to distinguish what kind of piece you're commenting on here- it certainly hasn't been framed as a fiction piece OR as a "sick comedy" piece. My criticism is 100% valid and cannot be pushed aside regardless of how many dime-a-dozen sexist comments you may make. You seem awfully frustrated about not being able to shut a woman up. Its entertaining to watch. As for my not being able to tell the difference, ironically its you who keeps trying to justify obvious factual errors in a journalistic piece of social commentary by applying standards from fiction. So thanks for the laugh. Its also ironic how you keep pouting and sulking while accusing others of misery. Hilarious.
justin forbes April 19, 2011 at 12:21 PM
It is entertaining, you are right! Or better yet, why dont you make the effort to come up with your own original form of self expression and stop being a know it all and ripping others up for doing what you dont have the balls to do. I am SO miserable, you nailed it. In fact, everything you say is spot on. So please, give it a rest.
Rabia April 20, 2011 at 10:55 AM
Funny how you were pretending to lecture me on the different forms of writing but arent aware of the simple fact that criticism is a form of writing as well and thats the right I'm exercising here. Fudging facts doesnt take "balls", at least not in the estimation of those who arent willdly disconnected from reality. Yes, looks like I did nail it- with every message your misery screams out more. I have a right to say what I want and thats precisely what I'm doing. Your tantrums arent going to stop me. :)
Barbara Krause October 22, 2012 at 01:59 PM
I was once asked to give the children of my sisters one piece of important advice for the future. My answer was that the person who you choose for your partner is the most important decision that you will ever make.


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