The Starter Husband
By Gretchen Voss
I totally bought into the wedding-industry machine, admits Elisa, who spent more time obsessively planning every detail of her nuptials for 300 at a Malibu estate than she did working on her masters thesis. From the five-star vegan menu to the Japanese lanterns to the playlist, Elisas focus was all wedding, no marriage. I had a totally misguided notion of what a wedding was about, she says. You work toward this giant event, have an enormous party, then an hour after you get married, reality sets in. I was like, Oh, shit that didnt really solve anything. You can almost forgive a girl for focusing on the party and forgetting about the hangover. After all, it seems that we dont have a clue what the heck marriage is anymore. Like a fat promotion to the corner office, we aspire to it the sparkler on my finger means Im a success, receiving the final rose means I win but what is the prize again? For that cluelessness, apparently, we can thank our single moms and alimony dads. We are the children of parents who divorced in the 70s and 80s, says Paul. Divorce is out there as a familiar possibility.
My own parents bitter divorce many, many years in the making played out right around the time of my engagement. I knew all too well what the seamy underbelly of marriage looked like, and it had made me incredibly cautious about commitment it took me seven years of dating my husband before I could consider the concept of forever.
Still, its a legacy that cuts deep. We were both like, Were going to do this right! Divorce is for losers, Elisa says of her and her exs attitude toward their own parents divorces. But she knew in the back of her mind that there was a plan B, that marriage was not necessarily a binding contract. And when she realized that she didnt even have a clue what a good marriage looked like, let alone what one felt like, she didnt hesitate to produce her Get Out of Jail Free card. It was a constantly pitched, keyed-up hell, she says. Their downstairs neighbors left a note on their door: I dont know what the hell is wrong with you people, but you need to stop screaming at each other.