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Marriage: An unnecessary milestone

This is marriage season in my family.

This is marriage season in my family.

There’s the summer anniversary of my very Catholic brother and his very Catholic wife, who pops off babies like a Gremlin when you get it wet.

There’s the fall anniversary of my parents, who have been dating since they were zygotes and who make eHarmony couples seem jaded and cynical.

And there’s my sister, who is marrying her girlfriend on the “28st” of August, according to her delightfully flawed wedding invitations.

Also there’s me: I have my divorciversary.

I’ve been separated from my wife for a year-and-a-half. I may, therefore, be coming from a somewhat-biased perspective when I say I don’t understand how marriage became a necessary ingredient for happiness.

At some point in human history, marriage became a mandatory milestone in any life, on that timeline that starts with Baby’s First Spit-Up ensconced in a scrapbook and ends with a quiet, dignified death surrounded by family members who keep casually bringing up the will.

To “miss out” on marriage is to spend a life dealing with people who wonder what went wrong. People might not think you’re a failure, but you’re not going to get an A-plus with an “incomplete.”

And if marriage disintegrates, it’s always treated like a tragedy. This reached its most ridiculous point during the Tiger Woods ordeal when the front of People magazine asked, “Can Tiger save his marriage?”

Will the Hindenburg fly again? Can Stalin be revived? Can we bring back the Fox puck? Why would we want to?

By default we assume that staying married is the “right” path. Nobody after a sex scandal ever says, “You know what? I’m sorry I hurt so many people, but I’ve re-evaluated and marriage was a bad choice for me. I move forward regretful but wiser.”

Here’s what I think: I think getting married is like getting an engineering degree. Engineering degrees are awesome, a wonderful accomplishment, but they’re not for everyone, and there’s no shame in not getting one. And if you forced everybody to get one a lot of bridges would collapse.

Marriage can work for many people, maybe even me some day.

But it should only be a No. 1 priority for some. For others, it needn’t rank higher than 28st.