If I Say I Do

Brad watched his friends cluster around Pat, the man blushing a little as they ribbed him. Another around of beers appeared supplied by the waitress. The way the guys all followed the sway of her hips made Brad chuckle. Not that he could blame them, the skirt she wore barely covered her bottom which jiggled in the most enticing way when she moved. You’d have to be dead to ignore that.

Rich, the admitted bachelor of the group and the only one without a significant other of some kind, clapped Pat on the back. “This is it, man. You’re trading in the good life for a wife and some kids. God help you.”

“Your idea of the good life is a different pussy every night and not remembering your own name.” another friend shot at him, which roused laughter from the whole group.

“Yeah, so? I’m damn happy with different pussy every night. I’m guaranteed a hot girl while you’re stuck with the same tired old pussy day in and day out.” Rich didn’t even seem fazed by the fact that he was a lech.

Pat elbowed Rich in the side. “I dare you to tell Cynthia she’s a tired old pussy. I’d guarantee she knee you in the balls.”

Cynthia was a beauty in every sense of the word, from her crystal clear blue eyes down to her mile long legs. She was also an Amazon who could break the balls of any man who treated her as less than the intelligent woman she presented. The fact that Pat managed to land the raven haired lawyer spoke volumes about his ability.

Rich held his hands up in surrender. “I’m just saying I don’t understand why you’d want to commit yourself to one woman like that. I mean, this shit is forever. In spite of how easy it is to get a divorce, you’re still tying yourself to her for a certain amount of time. That’s some scary ass shit right there.”

“Come on. It isn’t even that bad or people wouldn’t do it and stay together for fifty years.” Pat met Brad’s eyes across table. “Tell him, Brad.”

As the only married person in the group who had managed to sustain said marriage for fifteen years, Brad should have a sea of good things to say about marriage. He smiled at his friend before taking a swig of his Allagash.

“You’ve stuck by MaryAnne forever, you’ve got to think marriage is worth it.”

Brad leaned back in his chair and eyed his friend. The eagerness in Pat’s face and his total lack of awareness about life pointed to his obvious youth. It almost seemed wrong to take away his innocence, but sometimes it was more important to deliver the truth.

“I’ll tell you what my grandfather told me on my wedding day.” Brad took a long sip before he continued. “He told me not to get married because marriage is hard goddamn work. You know what? I wish I had listened to him.”

Five faces looked at him in startled confusion. Rich was the first to break the stunned silence. “But… I see the way you look at MaryAnne. Anyone with eyes can see you love her.”

He shook his head, hoping he could be clear. “Make no mistake, I love MaryAnne with every breath I take. I love her more now than I did the day I married her, but my grandfather was right.”

Brad drained his beer, needing the drink to fortify him. He thought about his wife and everything he’d learned since they’d been together and prayed he translated that to his friend.

“You’re joining yourself to someone who will know everything about you if you let them. You’ll see each other at your absolute worst; I’m talking bad morning breath, ass-scratching, no makeup, farting worst. That’s not all of it though. This goes deeper than just some words you utter in front of God and church. If you want to make this last, if you’re truly committed to being with this woman you profess to love, you have to work. She won’t be beautiful forever and her body won’t stay the tight perfection you see now. Kids will wreak havoc on her and she’ll change. When she changes, you have to choose to love her still.”

He leaned forward so he could look in Pat’s eyes. “There will be points where other women look fresh, new, and oh so exciting. You’ll want to stray because she’s been too tired or had a headache too many nights in a row. If you truly want this to work, you’ll keep looking at her and tell her she’s the best thing that ever happened to you. Because deep down you know that any woman who gives up her freedom to cling to you is the best damn thing that ever happened to you.”

The noise of the bar faded a bit as he considered his journey with his wife. He loved her so much it hurt, but he knew their love was a hard-fought battle.

“This shit is emotional and real. So real it’s scary. You’ll want to walk away, call it quits, forget the promises you made. But you can’t because if you claim to love her now, you’ll have to keep choosing that love and convince her to choose it too. That gets hard and the easy choice is not talking, not keeping promises, and walking out. If you can’t do those things, if you can’t honestly say you’ll love her with everything you have, than call this shit off. Because being married isn’t worth it if you can’t hang out to the end.”

Drawing in a breath, Brad ran a hand through his hair. “MaryAnne is my everything, but if I’d have known how time would change things I’m not sure I’d have walked down the aisle. So my advice to you on the Eve of your wedding is don’t do it.”

The guys appeared mesmerized and hung suspended until his last word. Pat blinked, obviously not expecting what he said. “I don’t know what to say, man.”

“Say you’re in it for the long haul or get the hell out while you still can.” With that, Brad raised his hand to call for another beer.


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  1. dgwolf

    We just marked 37 years.
    In so very many ways, she saved my life and I saved hers. We’ve been through ups and downs and everything that Brad says about “her” applies equally to “him”. Neither of us is the young vibrant hottie that we first hooked up with.
    Ultimately though, you might hook up with a luscious body. You might hang out, have fun with, truly enjoy the company of an attractive person.
    But you MARRY a SOUL.
    We were not happy with the traditional marriage vows that we saw, so we wrote our own.
    “I have chosen you above all others to share my life with me. That is the only evidence there need be that I love you.
    I want to love you for yourself, in the hopes that you might become everything that you are capable of being.
    And support, protect, and provide for you through all the years of our lives.”
    Brad has a point. It’s NOT easy! But then, what in life that is worth anything IS easy?

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      Cara Thereon

      I don’t want anyone to feel like I’m downplaying how awesome marriage could be, but I also feel like people rush in without giving thought to certain things. Making the decision to stay when it’s easier to go, loving the changes a person goes through physical, believing in the for better or worse portion. That’s hard.

      Marriage looks great and I see the good things, but people don’t understand that it’s two flawed people trying to make something work.

      Congrats on your 37 years. That’s beyond commendable.

  2. Beatnik du Jour

    Not to dwindle the seriousness of this application to marriage, I want to argue that Brad’s advice could/should be applied to any relationship that you consider to be precious. Be “in it” for the long haul. When shit gets real and times get hard, when the storm of life is kicking your ass, you or someone close to you is going to need a rock to hold on to. Be that rock. Encourage someone special to you to be that rock. Be a rock for your friend that can’t catch a break. Be a rock for your children. Teach them to be strong, so that they can be a rock some day. They might easily be YOUR rock, when you least expect it; their shiny, dirty, round little face looking up at you from no more than a knee’s height. I have two little rocks that were carved from the most awesome of mountains… I’m with that mountain for the long haul for sure.

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      Cara Thereon

      No, I agree with what you said. It can be true of any relationship. They all require a degree of commitment that many people lacked. I wrote this because I couldn’t stop thinking about all the people hopping into (and out of) marriage. I wanted to communicate that how important to go into it with open eyes and a serious mindset about the relationship.

      1. Beatnik du Jour

        Marriage is a very serious commitment that is taken too lightly it seems by so many, I agree. Brad’s brutal honesty doesn’t often come out, as you’ve shown with his friend being taken aback. Its good to tell it like it is sometimes. Well written piece!

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  3. Caitlyn McConnell

    Cara, I read this the other day, but didn’t get a chance to comment. This is amazingly true. And beautiful in its own way. Marriage is one of the hardest things to do. I love M to death, but if anything ever happens with us, I’d never do it again! Great post! *hugs and kisses*

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