by Gina B.
A few years ago, for about six months, I did an experiment that has since made me question whether or not marriage is really supported by society.
A relationship had just ended badly, and I decided to give myself a break from even talking to any new men. I didn't care if I missed out on great guys, and I didn't want to have a lot of extraneous conversation about my decision; I just wanted to be left alone.
I was doing some online shopping and stumbled across a site that specializes in knockoff jewelry, and there I saw it - just what I needed! The ring that I would want if I were to get married. For the low, low price of $30! I bought it with expedited delivery, and a few days later, The Decoy arrived - just as beautiful and convincing as it was on the website (as long as you didn't look too closely).
Here's what I envisioned: a man would approach me, and I would smile and simply hold up my left hand to let him behold the beautiful, shiny (and very fake) 3-carat rock with matching band that adorned my ring finger.
About 60% of the time, my plan worked. The man would back off and politely declare that my husband was very lucky. I saw it as a win-win. I didn't have to have further conversation, nor did I have to reject a man who didn't deserve it.
The remaining 40% of the time, my plan failed, and made for even more difficult conversation.
Persistent men would ignore The Decoy (and in some cases, were further intrigued), and ask slimy follow-up questions, like:
- "How married are you?"
- "Is your husband married too?"
- "Are you always married?"
- "Does that mean you can't have friends?"
The most disturbing reactions were from married men who suggested that we counter-cheat on our spouses.
I found myself getting defensive about a phantom relationship and protective over an imaginary spouse.
In the beginning of my experiment, I was appalled by the amount of guys who attempted to coerce me to cheat with them. After a while I grew used to it, which was sadder still.
As a married-woman-poseur, I began taking note of certain conversations that occur daily:
- Woman 1: "I heard that John was hooking up with Mary."
- Woman 2: "Really? But I thought John was married?"
- Woman 1: "He is, but what does THAT have to do with anything?"
With such a blatant lack of support for relationships, is it any wonder that the divorce rate is so high?
I've never been much of a legal marriage advocate. I believe that marriage is in your heart and mind, and I'm much more focused on the strength and quality of my relationship than I am on having a huge ring, large wedding, or declaring vows in front of church, state, friends, family, Elvis or any combination of the above.
Despite my viewpoints, I still respect the relationships of those who are married or taken. I grew up with the example of parents who took "til death do you part" seriously. I respect the tenets of marriage. I don't believe that marriage is disposable, or that divorce is an acceptable problem-solver. I've never seen a married man (or a man who's in a serious relationship) as an opportunity, rather a permanent roadblock. And I've always realized that a lot of the things that are attractive about him are probably due to his wife's influences.
If all else fails, I'm a strong believer in getting back what you put out into the Universe.
But, most people don't share my position, and perhaps those are the reasons that I don't aspire to becoming a married woman. The right person might be able to coerce me, but we would have to have good reasons and an extremely strong relationship.
I eventually retired The Decoy. I was afraid that it was damaging my psyche (and that one day it would turn my finger a deep shade of evergreen). The next piece of jewelry I buy myself will be real - and not nearly as much of a conversation piece.