Happily Never After

Happily Never After

Gay and ready to tie the knot? Take some advice from a couple of heteros: marriage isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.


Annabelle Gurwitch and her husband Jeff Kahn are at work on a memoir about their marriage, You Say Tomato, I Say Shut Up.

Dear Michael and David,

We wanted to drop a line to congratulate you on the Supreme Court decision striking down the ban on gay marriage in our fair state of California.

Jeff and I heard you were panning to get hitched, and we want to be first to toast you and bestow upon you the wedding bounty that up to now you have been unfairly denied. We have already picked out a Waterford crystal bowl, which will gather dust in your china cabinet for years to come.

We hope this is the first step for our many gay friends to enjoy same important tax and health care benefits, legal protections and societal recognition as married heterosexuals, but we feel we should let you know that in terms of experiencing any greater degree of happiness by tying the knot…well, that’s another story.

Research from University of Southern California sociologist Kelly Musick suggests that most couples will likely spend half of their married lives less happy than they were when they cut the first slice of wedding cake. In fact, debunking that old seven-year-itch theory, participants reported the spark fizzling after only three years. Moreover, the latest census data indicate that singles now outnumber married people in the US, with fewer couples reaching that twenty-five-year milestone, all of which seems to confirm that people are just unwilling to settle for being unhappy.

As you know, Jeff and I weren’t that happy before we got married, so we’ve stuck it out for over a decade. Coincidentally, as the state Supreme Court was mulling the decision, we celebrated our twelfth year of state-sanctioned partnership, or as we like to refer to it, the paper clip anniversary. Instead of purchasing jewelry and crafting love notes for one another as in the early years, this anniversary we exchanged stacks of bills and splurged on long-term health insurance for each other. Fun!

We liken the institution of marriage to buying an old house. At first glance, it seems like a good bet. Its traditional foundation appears solid and care has been taken in the original craftsmanship. You may even find yourself attracted to that homey, warm sense of familiarity. But buyer, beware. Those same details you found charming and endearing will, after only a few short years, seem cloying and impractical. It can be impossible to heat and the cooling-off system always leaves a lot to be desired. The doors squeak, the upstairs banister comes loose, and just when you think you’ve done everything to keep the old warhorse going, the ancient plumbing crumbles and your contemporary electronics short the system and you have to completely rewire. If you stay in it long enough, you’ll find out that it has to be completely gutted just to keep the thing from collapsing. Marriage, like an old house, requires constant and vigilant upkeep.

And, by the way, you won’t just be taking on a spouse; you’ll be adding girth. A University of North Carolina survey last year found that newlyweds experienced a six-to-nine-pound weight gain over their single and even cohabitating friends. Not to be too much of a Debbie Downer, but contrary to the popular belief that marriage is good for your health, a new study shows that that’s only true if you have a good marriage. It turns out that a bad marriage actually raises your blood pressure. But that can be hard to quantify, so be careful. Jeff and I had an argument over whether our marriage qualified as good or bad and we ended up sleeping in separate rooms for the next week and half. But hey, at least I spoke up, because another study has just proven that women who remained silent during marital disagreements get terrible heart problems.

So, if in the end, you guys decide not to take those vows, we’ll totally understand. But if you do, we wish you good luck, because everyone deserves the right to be married, just like us.

Annabelle and Jeff

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