The Lies of Marriage for Middle-Income Children

I call it the hollow, aching look in someone’s eyes when they see another friend married off.

They’ve been standing by and waiting or pretending to not do either, while they have been burning in agony on the inside. The wait has turned their insides into a beautiful effigy of resentment. We and they are all assured, it’s bound to happen. Because your privilege will not fail you. Your mother and father are of good stock. You’re educated and of good stock, too. It’s bound to happen.

Stock, the investment of education and inculcation of privilege, dictates that men and women will see intuitively in each other their respective stock, and intertwine their lives around each other until they commit in marriage. There is nothing else involved except the outward forms of stock and privilege — piety, agreeable character, success in work and career, proximity of values, family, and a future built on material wealth. Stock means that the process of meeting and dating is only punctuated by milestones — the first date, the first family function, engagement, food, food, food, wedding. Whatever else happens, the very sinews of relationships, is incidental and manageable. Where society magnifies these incidental events as the actual workings of relationships, the regime of stock gives it little attention. Have a career, don’t work too hard, work hard to make money, develop your personality, but no, not something artistic or original or unique. That puts partners off. And their families. And their stock. So, be funny. Not too funny. Be interesting. Not too interesting or opinionated. Your partner wants someone they can talk to about normal stuff. Be confident, but not too arrogant. Go to church, why are you not going, go to church, don’t go to church looking like that, there might be new stock, why aren’t you going to church! Are you lost! Are you atheist! Are you… PROTESTANT! Go to church. Spirituality? Who gives a shit about that, just go to church. As long as you’re in church, you’re spiritual and full of faith. So, stand tall, why are you tired, don’t sit down, you might miss the new stock.

Stock means you both will get automatic reprieve from each other’s screening process. Stock turns the art of meeting and committing to someone into an impersonal trade of check-lists and resumes. It becomes a lens worn and never taken off. If a person acts in contradiction to the regime, then the lens justifies abandoning that person. If a person plays the system and manages to retain the other through deceit or charm, then the lens confirms the good catch. Stock doesn’t deter people from treating other with impunity. It doesn’t stop a woman from destroying a man’s heart or a man turning a woman into tears. It could just makes it easier to justify. I had every reason to. They’re so many others out there. He or she just weren’t the right one. I can wait. The right one will come along because I deserve it. What are you doing wrong? You’re a mess, you must be a mess, stop being a mess. It’s your fault, it’s not happening because it’s your fault. Everything is going for you, it should just happen. It’s all about stock. If she’s good stock and you’re good stock, then that’s all that matters. No, their good stock is different from ours. Ours is real. Maybe I need chicken stock — don’t ever say that, your future spouse doesn’t want a sense of humour.

So, we were sold lies, that education, good stock, hygiene, presentation, style, and the right socialization will get us married in no time. They didn’t tell us about the game. Fear of commitment. That one broken engagement that turned your love into a sack of blunt blades. A string of hookups that turned your man of dreaminess into a hollow man. That in time, you yourself will turn into some ghoul that treats people like garbage because you’re privileged and you have problems, too. They didn’t tell us what to do while we’re waiting. The line of potential partners that end up passing us by like the opposite lane on the highway. We had to let go of many because you know why.

This regime of stock is doomed to fail if in time, every person standing at the wedding is single, of good stock, and still waiting for their moment, waiting for the lies to become truth.

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