Columns Jan 23, 2013 at 4:00 am

Not Getting Married (By Me)


What's the difference between a destination wedding and living across the country from your family?
I tried to google it but couldn't find the answer... what's a human cupcake?!
@104: The couple announcing that rather than expecting some guests to travel, with allowances to choose a hotel and trip duration they can afford, everyone everywhere will be ponying up for a fabulous five days in a castle in Spain!!!!! If you care about them and aren't some cheapskate determined to ruin the most special and magical day of their, and frankly your, life.

(Really liking Erica's point that your wedding is usually not the high point of anyone's year but your own. And really, if things go as you hope then your life is not supposed to be all downhill from the nuptials.)

Seriously, this claim that if your brother who lives in New York has to fly in to Kansas it's A Destination Wedding Anyhow, so we might as well suggest everyone pay their own way to fly to Hawaii, is bizarre.

And yes, I have noted people claiming that the purpose of a destination wedding is that most of those invited will think:
a) Person X has invited me to their wedding, a wondrous and thoughtful gesture, and so I shall feel no anger at being excluded from their special day.
b) Simultaneously, I understand that if I actually offer to pay to get myself to Bermuda and the exclusive golf resort they have chosen, I will Ruin It All, because I'm on the list of people they don't actually want anywhere near the wedding.

This seems to require an awful lot of nuance.
@98: Did you read Dan's piece on adopting DJ? Deciding you would like a short person to show up, and having them actually do so, is not a simple or guaranteed process.

I researched adoption quite a bit when I had secondary infertility. Telling people "You're marrying at 36? Listen, wait until you're in your 40s, preferably late 40s, so you get that 10 years in together, then start trying for a kid" is not in tune with reality. Including the reality of what adoption agencies consider a viable age for first-time adoptive parents.

Kids throw a huge wrench into a relationship whenever they arrive. (Just in terms of sleep deprivation and never getting to turn off as the responsible adult in the room, but also changing roles.) If you have a strong enough relationship several years deep to commit to it for life, then a decade of marriage is not going to somehow proof you to do parenting right, or make it so that kids aren't any sort of stress on your marriage.
(Skimming comments)

I'm with nocutename @3; couples shouldn't feel any pressure to fuck on their wedding day, before or after. Even for a casual wedding, there's often just too much shit to do and to worry about. But hey, you're still in that honeymoon suite in the morning, with its big clean bed and its complimentary porn channel...

canada girl @58: My husband's cousin did the Vegas wedding (Elvis impersonator and all!), with just their parents and a few friends attending, no pressure on anyone else to travel. Then they had their reception back in Ottawa for everyone else, showed footage of the actual wedding, and gave out Vegas card packs and shot glasses.

I Hate Screen Names @73: I think you've hit it on the head. And y'know, much as some people snark about couples who write their own vows, there are good reasons not to go with the defaults.

Those of us in opposite-sex marriages are also in a unique position to support marriage equality. Some years ago, Mr. ShifterCat got a call from the Conservative Party asking if they could rely on our votes in the upcoming election. He told them no, and when they asked why, said, "My wife and I disagree with the Conservatives' stance against gay marriage." He told me afterwards that he could practically hear the gears in the caller's head seizing up in confusion.
I am a legal mail-order type officiant more than happy to perform same sex weddings. Those who refuse? Do you think you're going to STOP them from getting married, you twits?

You think having a 'mini you' is the only reason a person would favour having their own child over adoption?

Are you cracked?

Adoption creates a whole whack of attachment problems and takes breastfeeding out of the equation. To suggest that the only reason someone would want to have a biological child is narcissism... well that's just ignorant as fuck.

@ #64 --

Dan Savage made you gag! Doesn't that feel great?
@64 --

Dan Savage made you gag! Doesn't that feel great?

"Adoption creates a whole whack of attachment problems and takes breastfeeding out of the equation. To suggest that the only reason someone would want to have a biological child is narcissism... well that's just ignorant as fuck."

Ok, yes, adoption causes a lot of attachment problems. And it has nothing to do with narcissism if you don't want to deal with that.

But how does breastfeeding fit in with that? (Apart from breastfeeding playing a role in bonding.) If you want to breastfeed for your own good- that is narcissism. Because that child that you won't adopt will still not be breastfed- so you are not insisting on the breastfeeding for the sake of the existing child. Or what am I missing here?
Funny thing - Just last night my nephew announced that he and his fiancé are getting married on Kauai in May. His sister moaned and made a crack about "destination weddings". He pointed out that this was not a destination wedding since no one was being invited. They are actually eloping and just doing it in style in a beautiful location.
@102 - " I didn't see anything about no couples written anywhere at the time. Now I feel like an ass... "

Pretend you aren't a couple. Make believe that you both just met there. No one else will be the wiser, and you can have a hot time role playing the scenario of meeting and hooking up for the first time.
My husband and I had a daytime wedding, starting at noon, then scheduled a 3-5 pm break and a meetup at the local pub from for those wanting to keep the party going. This gave us a predetermined alone time . My advice would be to actually schedule some one on one time during the day, so you can enjoy the specialness together and recharge in your own way (or fuck)
Thank you SO MUCH for chiming in against destination weddings. Jeez, people, you want to be on a beach in Hawaii or a castle in Spain, it's called a HONEYMOON.
But yeah, if having a mini-you is vital and you are a bio female, then it's really a game changer in terms of when you can easily become pregnant.

You really think this is the only issue? For us, a big concern with adoption is genetic uncertainty: you have no idea whose genes are going to end up in your kid. Both my wife and I come from families that are long-lived, have no physical or mental disorders, are well above average on intelligence (lots of scientists and engineers in the families), and modestly above average on appearance. There are some downsides-- poor vision and weight problems also run in our families-- but we both decided that on average, our kids would be better off having our genes than random genes.

Would the calculus change if we came from families with physical/mental problems or we knew the adopted kid came from Nobel laureates? I like to think so.
@delta35, @mydriasis, @migrationist:
Wanting a "mini-me" is a natural, healthy human impulse, and actually having a "mini-me", or several of them, can be incredibly rewarding to everyone involved, including the "mini-mes". Why are we pathologizing it by labeling it narcissism?

Same goes for breastfeeding. Again, how is breastfeeding because one enjoys it in any way narcissistic?

Wanting to have kids the natural way is nothing to feel apologetic about. Given the huge sacrifices involved in parenting young children, however they happened to arrive on the scene, the decision not to have kids seems to me closer to narcissism, although I wouldn't go so far as to call it that.
At a wedding I attended recently, the catered buffet included whole chickens, as well as lots of other wonderful food. Eventually the buffet was cleared, lots of booze was consumed, and much dancing happened. Late in the evening I looked at the food area and there was a giant pot of chicken soup and biscuits, made fresh from the leftovers. Everyone ate again, soaked up the booze, it was brilliant!

I get what you're saying that some could regard choosing not to have children as selfish (though I appreciate the caveat that you wouldn't go so far as to call it that). I think the opposite is also true. If you understand that you aren't emotionally or financially equipped to provide for and raise a child, it could be considered selfish to do so anyway.
Once the wedding starts, stop the planning/management and just enjoy your own wedding. If necessary, deputize someone to deal with anything that really needs to be dealt with.

Related: Eat your meals. Other people can wait for you.

I strongly recommended Yihud -- not for consummating the marriage (although go ahead if you like) but as actually getting 10-15 minutes alone to enjoy the fact that you are now married before you start to host a party.
Agreed, if someone isn't up for the sacrifice of having kids, it's best all around if they don't. Whatever your reasons for not having kids, I fully respect it (can't say the same about the motives behind some people's decision to have kids).

As a parent whose kids are well past the toddler stage, and who experiences some mild PTSD whenever I'm around friends with infants/toddlers, and who hangs out with a lot of (fabulous) childless people who lavish themselves with self-actualization projects using all the disposable time and money they aren't spending on feeding, sheltering, and educating their kids, I just found the designation of parents as narcissists to be, um, ironic.
are you any relation to Mr. Mike Savage of the most popular radio talk show the Savage Nation
125 is a card, baby.
@119, @121, & @123: Yaaay! A thread I can relate to!! I'm fortunate that while a lot of my parents' contemporaries, friends of my sisters, and gossipy older women branded me selfish---and even stupid for my decision to not have children (you nailed some of my biggest reasons, KateRose: I have considered myself neither emotionally nor financially equipped to bear or raise a child. Also, the idea of going through a nine-month pregnancy, and what it entails leaves me queasy), my truly amazingly loving, supportive and encouraging parents respected my wishes.
Of course, had I been an only child or only daughter (instead of being the youngest of 4 kids), their feelings and expectations about my providing them with grandchildren (or not) might have been much different.
All decisions regarding children, to have them or not, are selfish. Most people choose to or not to have children because they think what ever their choice it is the best choice for them.

If someone wants children they should have them. If they don't they shouldn't. Neither option is more selfish than the other. However either choice can be made for the wrong reasons.
seandr @119:

I don't see having a biological child as more narcissistic than having an adopted child necessarily. I just didn't quite get mydriasis' reasoning re breastfeeding.
Dr Sean - As a III, I advise against Mini-Mes. Why else was I put into conversion therapy against my will as a minor? I doubt any of my siblings would have met with the same treatment.

The whole concept of the Mini-Me is to disallow in advance any shred of individuality in the poor specimen before the little bundle even arrives. As for having several of that sort, we should consult the experts - George Foreman II-VI, who are all brothers.
@127: Good points. The decisions I made were for all the right reasons.

@129: I never said I had a problem with being big-boned.
People with preferences towards small-framed dates or spouses
usually have problems with big bones.
I'm on the Atkins diet (no carbs, gluten-free, sugar-free),
and after three weeks since New Year's, have made some
real progress. My problem has been a big belly and not so
much in regards to wide shoulders.
I'm a lot healthier and happier than I was, largely from getting
away from processed foods!!

Why? Do you have a bone to pick?
@129: By the way, I'm not particularly interested in your latest boner.
Hi Dan - I participated in the survey, and will admit to finding it a little distressing that there was no option for genderqueer or other 'not male or female' individuals (there was an option to declare oneself transgender). Lesser niggle, while the survey let me place 'pansexual' initially, I later had to choose from radiobuttons that put me back in the bisexual box. (Writing inclusive surveys be hard?)
Fascinating and strange to read about such late childbearing ages. I lived in the Seattle area and knew lots of pregnant women in their late 20s. Here in Utah, tons of my early-20s classmates and friends are getting knocked up (and even they struggle with infertility occasionally!). I have a 21-year-old friend who manages to work, set to graduate, and is pregnant. I find it somewhat odd for the norm to be alla Juno - that the only pregnancies are unwanted and in your teens or impossible in your forties.

I'm 25, unmarried and childless, but if I find a life partner soon (and we treat dating seriously here), sure, I'd like to have my first kid in my late twenties, when it's not a fight against biology. I don't think daycare/relatively young grandparents & aunts & even great-grandparents (my grandma isn't even 70 yet) helping out is a problem.

Someone in this state needs to raise some atheist kids. By Darwinian principles, soon enough, the environmental, educational, and scientific principles you hold dear will become extinct. We educated liberals need to fuck early and often for the good of the nation.
@ et al.

1. My comment about breastfeeding was just that if I ever have children I'd like to do so with as few attachment handicaps as possible. Adoption's a big one, no breastfeeding is a small one.

2. I have a deep respect, admiration, and thankfulness for people who choose to not have children. Especially if the fact that they are aware they would make poor parents is part of the reason. I don't think it's selfish at all.

Parents who think they can 'have it all', have children and maintain the exact same lifestyle, and put their children at a disadvantage to maintain that lifestyle - they are selfish.

No one is, but in a year or two he won't be able to make any anymore, thank goodness.
@137: LOL, and amen!!!! Good one, mydriasis!!!!
I just picked my wart and am bleeding everywhere. The thread is dead.
@139: Okay, but I'm still laughing.
@vennominon: Ha ha, I was fortunate (or unfortunate) not to come from the sort of stock that tacks roman numerals onto the end of the names of its scion's. Really, my lineage would be happy if we could just get one right.
So true about wedding disasters. We still remember the one in the summer (so the door to the church was open), where a dog wandered in and walked down the aisle in front of the bride. That both bride and groom thought this was enchanting showed they were meant for each other (and they're still together 24 years later).
Heh...well, I'm coming up on my second wedding - 23 years after the first one - and the input is great. I wish we would simply elope (I went beyond hinting and flat-out pushed eloping in Hawaii), but it's her first wedding and she wants friends and family, and I'm cool with that. It does wind up being kind-of a destination wedding because all of her friends are strewn all over the country; I guess I can cop out since for my crew it's a local affair.

@118 - while I share the same kind of genes you do, you also, I hope, realize how, um, stuck up (as opposed to narcissistic) you sound?

On that note: people toss around PD diagnoses like candy, but everyone should remember that these are cluster traits which are all normal in some degree - the disorder is a matter of degree, not binary yes/no. Having a little bit of narcissism is actually healthy.

As the step-brother of an adopted child I'd like to suggest there are other reasons people might prefer to know something about the genes they're getting: like it or not, genetics have an incredible influence on personality tendencies. Very very oddly, the adopted child (random genetic roll of the dice) had far, far less in common with his adoptive siblings than his step-siblings did - that is, the step-siblings were the genetic offspring of parents who selected one another (for personality reasons) and were more alike than the random was to either of the other groups.

Although a lot of new evidence suggests (persuasively) that nurture matters a heck of a lot more in 'long term success' than genes, a child who shares your genetic makeup is much more likely to be familiar in terms of personality.
Late to the party -- or reception -- here, but I sell (ie, "market") destination weddings on behalf of a major travel company, and I've gotta say, I feel really bad about it. We mau-mau regular middle-class folks into spending ungodly amounts of money to get entire wedding parties to the Caribbean, or Hawaii, or Vegas, or Tahiti. Somehow, some way, the company makes big money with these weddings, but as a married person myself -- one with two dysfunctional families, just like every other couple -- I couldn't imagine trying to convinve my family and friends to spring for a "vacation" like that. My prescription? Just elope, go on a honeymoon, and then have a nice big family-and-friends party when you return.
@143: I'm aware of it, but I couldn't think of a way to make the point without coming off as "stuck up." And it's a valid point.

I'm also aware that considering family genetics is less popular among Americans, as it seems to go against the individualistic notion that people should not be painted with the same stroke as their family members. It's much more accepted among, say, Asian cultures.
@146 - it is very anti-egalitarian to overtly consider it, and flies in the face of the American conceit that "all [wo]men are created equal", where equal implies subjectively 'equivalent", instead of having equal rights. We truly buy into both meanings of the word and like to imagine that our social and economic mobility are greater than anywhere in the world - that meritocracy and personal 'morality' or 'character' are what differentiate our success. I think it has more to do with that than with any kind of "sins of the father" or familial individuation.

We don't like to think about the alcoholic smoker who lives to be ninety-five and dies of natural causes while the tofu-scarfing vegan who adheres to an austere asceticism to intense only room-temperature water is permissible keels over from a massive MI due to atherosclerosis at 45 after finishing a pre-dawn run and yoga, but it happens more often than you'd think.

FWIW, coming from a long line of "American" anglos (like four centuries), I can promise you that while these things may not be spoken of, they are most certainly considered.

@75 - see for a wonderful example of ordination qualifications. A friend's father will be conducting mine as a civil ceremony, using a "service" we write ourselves.
@144, "Instead of marring, why not work at getting rid of this archiac patiriocal institution?"

I'm assuming you mean 'patriarchal"? rather than "patrilocal". Being a guy married to a guy there is nothing patriarchal about my marriage. What's more, gay people getting married, the formation of legally recognized marriage unions between people of the same gender, is simply another blow against patriarchy. The more gay people, and for that matter straight people who manage to wed and not fall into patriarchal roles, marry and demonstrate what a non-patriarchal marriage can be the weaker patriarchy becomes.

In fact I have no doubt that on some subtle level that is what the anti equality crowd fears.

"Why do we gays have to buy into this hetrosexulization of our lives?"

Again, marriage doesn't have to adhere to some heterosexual model. There is nothing heterosexual about my marriage. The structure of my relationship before and after my wedding is indistinguishable. What, somehow taking a marriage vow suddenly made my homosexual relationship instantly heterosexualized even though there was no discernible difference in it's structure and arrangement?

Sorry, but those arguments make about as much sense as the homophobic anti marriage arguments.

"Wasn't the 60's free love, shacking up, a revolt against this?"

I keep hearing people talk about 60's free love as if it were some great successful experiment that we should emulate for all times. But really, having had my childhood in the 70's in the aftermath of the 60's free love experiment my recollections, even if I didn't fully understand what I was seeing at the time, are not pretty.

That aftermath seemed like a rather dismal and depressing time.

Some good things came out of the 60's free love experiment. But let's not fool ourselves into believing that it was one, big, happy experience for everyone that we should try to stick with. It was still rife with sexism, and people using each other, and other negative aspects as well.

But the idea of sexual liberation is rooted in the idea that people should be free to pursue the relationships and sexual expression that they feel is right for them.

Trying to push, shame, or otherwise get people who aren't comfortable with it to engage in relationships or sexual expression that they don't want to is a blow against sexual liberation, regardless if that manifests as denial of participation in the institutions of relationships generally acknowledged in our society, or pressure to engage in what is generally considered more progressive forms of relationships such as open relationships, ploy relationships, or some form of 60's "free love".

Freedom means the freedom to choose. Marriage equality isn't about forcing gay people to marry. It's about gay people having access to all the options available straight people so we are free to make our own choices.
Mr Fortunate - I agree with what you say, but suspect there might have been an unspecified side to the question or what it would argue.

While I personally favour selective assimilation, I suspect that the case could be made that the characteristics (I refuse to call them "qualities") formerly reserved for/associated with straight married couples which are being most heartily embraced by same-sex married couples are all the wrong ones. It's getting to be practically an orientation on its own. Personally, if a couple would rather present as M rather than L, G, B or anything else, I have no desire to interfere with their choice, but, for instance, if we lose the concept of the Chosen Family - one of our greatest victories, and already it's starting to crack - the straights will have gotten the better end of the deal out of that bride (or groom) price. If they herd enough of us into kyriarchal, insular, exclusionary little families just like their own, they may be able to crush us yet.

At least the case can be made to that effect. I remain unconvinced, and, as almost always, find it more problematic to attempt to restrict individual choice than to cope with the fallout from those choices.
I hope sales "American Savage" also boosts sales of "American Salvage" by Bonnie Jo Campbell. A totally unrelated but very worthwhile book.
for some reason the expression "live by the sword, perish by the sword" is coming to mind...
@151 Hunter: Come on, laugh with me! As someone who has just been diagnosed with something really horrible, and discovering to my relief and joy that it's reversible, I was going for humor, not to tromp on your toes. The laughter was a release, and I needed the outlet.
p.s. I am going to have one hell of a surprise for my VA docs when I go for my annual exam this year----no more Buddha belly!!!

Geez--I have more energy at 48 than I did at 28!
Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh, shit! I'm having another Brad Pitt attack again!
What IS it about that thievin' little smooth-talking J.D.?
@154: Conga-rats on making a big, and ultimately extraordinarily healthy change. Whether one calls it "Atkins" or "South Beach" or whatever the flavor-du-jour is, getting off the sugar alone will make one feel a gazillion times better. Best Wishes for your continued success!
@156 thanks for sharing and congratulations :-)
Ugh to all of it. The best advice of all is don't get fucking married.
venominion @149: "While I personally favour selective assimilation, I suspect that the case could be made that the characteristics (I refuse to call them "qualities") formerly reserved for/associated with straight married couples which are being most heartily embraced by same-sex married couples are all the wrong ones."

Can you be specific about what actual characteristics you are refering to? I certainly don't see any of the choices I have made regarding my marriage to be wrong, nor do I see any "wrong" in the relationships of the other gay married people I know.

I'm not sure what it is you are seeing that seems to be the wrong choice for embracing.

What my partner and I take, particularly from the model of my parents' marriage, are the love, commitment, and support they exibited as the foundation of their marriage.
Thanks for the wedding advice, Dan. I am a Baptist minister, regularly read your column, wed gay and straight couples, and advise said couples to be GGG, and to read your column for more suggestions. Keep up the good work.

paz y gracias.


Great survey!

Adults (18–49) of all sexual orientations are needed for an important study on the relationship between sexual orientation, rejection, and the attachment system. Go to…

Thanks for the plug.
@159: That works for me.
so in summary...

@165 mydriasis: See Starmartyr's comment @159.
@157 AFinch: Thanks! I haven't lost any weight, but I HAVE noticed that some definite inches have melted away over the past five weeks. No more
Pillsbury Doughboy!!
I guess my body is trying to tell me that I can't be a "Blue Box Kid" anymore,
and be a grown-up when it comes to wining and dining.

I'm hoping that I can graduate back to a little dark chocolate and local berries (without added sugar, of course!) by my next birthday.
I'll never have a bikini figure again, but.......
I sampled the comments and so must add my own...
I boiled it down to this - do what will make you happy within your budget. If you have guests, you must be hospitible to them, (yes, that means food and drink, including alcohol they don't have to buy) If you want the day to be all about you - elope. If you want to get hitched in a remote locale (I did) don't expect people to traipse along. I remember the dilemma of my best friend (for whom I was best man). He and his bride lived in Itlay, were both from the West Coast, and attended school on the East Coast. They finally split the difference and had the wedding on the East Coast and paid for it themselves. If folks could not attend (and only one Italian relative was able to make it), that was fine with them. The then travelled to the West Coast to have a party for those who could not come out, then back to italy for another party for those folks. They had the wedding they wanted and nobody felt left out. Sincerity is most important. (they are still married 21 years later)
We had a courthouse wedding and then immediately took off for the coast. Two days later (on a Saturday) we had our reception. It was so relaxed and casual, I highly recommend doing things in this nontraditional way. PS: It's been 10+ beautiful years so far.
I have to disagree on the not having a destination wedding. Family from two different states. You have to pick one, right? So one family has to travel and the other doesn't. Make 'em all travel. We got married in Hawaii and it was awesome. We also had a reception in both states for those who couldn't go. Vacationing en masse with 20 family members and friends was absolutely unforgettable. I highly recommend it! And we videoed the ceremony for those who had any desire to see it. :D

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