A profound miracle takes place when a couple steps under the chuppah. As they emerge from under the marriage canopy, they suddenly are bestowed with the ability to give unrequested marital advice to their single friends.
The last thing the Jewish world needs is yet another dating column written by a single person, unless the writing is highly original, offers impressive insight, swashbuckling wit and egoless constraint.
Here it is.
There are two brilliant questions married people often ask single people. To clarify, by “brilliant” I mean “stupid” or “annoying.” Question One is “Why aren’t you married?” Question Two is “Have you ever thought about getting married?” I have heard both on at least 50 occasions.
Here are my shortest responses in reverse order. “Have you ever thought about getting married?” can be answered with “No! I have literally never thought about that in my entire life. Thank you so much for making this suggestion. You are a genius.”
While these gurus are unlikely to offer to set you up on any dates after your passive-aggressive response, they are as much use for matchmaking as bottles of Manischewitz at an AA meeting.
My usual answer to the question “Why aren’t you married?” is “Because I am lucky. I won the life lottery.”
They look at me as if I am some weird, socially maladjusted Englishman. But then I offer another brilliant insight. I explain how during the past 15 years I have gone through five major relationship breakups, so painful that I am currently taking a sabbatical. From personal experience — and I can confirm this — it was less painful to be hit by a car and have two brain surgeries.
My usual answer to the question “Why aren’t you married?” is “Because I am lucky.”
Their next predictable response is “Aha! But you cannot spend your life avoiding pain!” Another genius piece of wisdom from the well-meaning married person who got his or her ketubah and became a font of wisdom before the ink was dry on his or her marriage certificate, suddenly gaining the ability to pour forth marital insights with the flow of a drunken sailor rapidly emptying his bladder from the rooftop parapet of a portside brothel.
My second answer to “Why aren’t you married?” is to recount the story of my ex-wife and our truly horrible divorce. Our separation is burned into my memory, prompting post-traumatic stress disorder. She betrayed, cuckolded and demeaned me, lied to me, took my home and wrecked my life.
It is beside the point that my ex-wife is imaginary. The minor detail that our marriage never took place is a technicality. The memory is real. Here in the city of make-believe, memory is a valid emotional currency, especially for actors who are routinely encouraged to explore their emotional memory in the great method-acting tradition of Konstantin Stanislavsky.
By inventing my first marriage and subsequent divorce, I experienced the learning curve of seeing where I fell short as a husband, discovered the pitfalls of poor communication with my wife, determined where I could improve as a husband, and decided how I could become a more attentive, adventurous, creative, extraordinary and sensitive lover.
The pain of my imaginary divorce means that I won’t repeat these mistakes in my second marriage, but create a home of harmonious shalom bayit. My second marriage will be a dream because I learned so much from my first marriage, even though my second is technically my first, but who is counting (or even following at this point)?
My wedded friends who go on and on about the joys of nuptial bonds are all correct. From now on I shall stop hiding my desperation to get married behind a veil of sarcasm and preemptive satire, and reveal my vulnerability in the gladiatorial circus of 21st century dating. All I need to do is find a woman who will put up with me — ideally an American, so that I can get my green card and live happily and Americanly ever after.
Marcus J Freed’s website is marcusjfreed.com.