By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
After two years of dating, we decided it was time to move in together. Our fundamental oppositeness, however, was reflected in where we lived. I lived in Miracle Mile and loved being surrounded by fun bars and restaurants and museums. He lived in Venice and loved being surrounded by the ocean, the grime and the homeless hippies.
But I was looking forward to living together and putting an end to the constant overnight bags, so I gave up my love of Hollywood and headed west. We rented a cute, two-bedroom bungalow on the canals, and I did enjoy the ducks and the jogs on the beach. But I felt isolated from my friends, who were just miles away. And I loved complaining about it. So now I was unhappy living in Venice, but happy to have something to complain about. And Dan was happy living in Venice, but unhappy I had something to complain about.
STEP FOUR: Adhere to an arbitrary timetable.
In the back of my mind, no matter how independent, untraditional and nondomestic I pretended to be, I always had a timetable. Date for two years, and then move in. If that goes well, get engaged at three years. And then get married.
The night before our three-year anniversary, I stayed up fantasizing about how Dan might propose, the ring he would painstakingly pick out for me, and how we would shop for a condo together. By the end of the next day, it was apparent that not only was Dan not planning on proposing — he had actually forgotten it was our anniversary!
I yelled at him, and all my quiet hopes came loudly spilling out. He was dumbfounded. He had no idea he was supposed to propose, no idea I had a relationship schedule in my head, no idea that even though I pretended to hate clichéd romantic gestures, I still craved them. Dan told me he didn’t quite see the point of marriage. And, of course, I came back with the age-old, “Well, if it doesn’t matter one way or the other, then why not just get married?”
Which led to ...
STEP FIVE: Give a passive-aggressive ultimatum.
Three weeks after our three-year anniversary, Dan rolled over in bed and said, “So, how do you want to do this?” And I knew that was a marriage proposal. Not the kind I really wanted, but I took it.
His complete lack of enthusiasm toward our three-year relationship, and my focus on our future instead of our present, should have been indicators that it was a great time to walk away. To realize our best days together had passed. But in the same way you might continue to watch a TV show years after it jumps the shark because the first season was so good, Dan and I both plodded on. Because our first season together was amazing at times. We would get off work at 2 a.m., steal carrot cake from the Improv fridge, and eat it in bed while reciting hacky comedy bits we had heard that night for the 80th time. We would laugh hysterically, until we started choking on that amazingly sweet cream-cheese icing. In the beginning, Dan had no money, so he would give me bouquets of sour-apple Blow Pops — my favorite flavor. And I would happily clean out the piles of head shots and soda cans from his car. Soon the Blow Pops stopped coming. And instead of me cleaning his car, I nagged him to do it.
I was so invested in my timetable that I didn’t give myself the option to not get married. Instead, I gave him a lot of attitude about not wanting to marry me. And he fell into the trap of begrudgingly giving me what I thought I wanted.
If you feel your mate is moving forward in the relationship only because it seems like the thing to do, because you have given him a passive-aggressive ultimatum or because you have been harping about it for weeks, go for it! You will be divorced in a few years. Guaranteed.
STEP SIX: Get married for a down payment.
My desire to get married was caused by a combination of factors. My backwards notion that being married would make me a complete person; my rigid internal clock; and the fact that I really, really wanted to own property in Los Angeles, and at the rate my career was going, I would never be able to afford a place on my own.
My father always told my sister and me we could have either a big, fancy wedding or a down payment. And I wanted that down payment. It wasn’t my only reason to get married, but it was a reason. That, and I loved Dan, of course.
STEP SEVEN: Plan the divorce while you plan the wedding.
After the rollover proposal, I went by myself to a jewelry store and bought my ring. Dan paid me back with a check. It might have been the least-romantic purchase of an engagement ring in the history of courtship, but I bragged to friends and family that we were such an amazing couple that we didn’t need the usual silly traditions.