“Some men want their hell before death.”
When I was in my 20s and 30s, this was my explanation for why men got married. As you can probably surmise, I had some issues back then. But fortunately for me, I worked through those issues. In 2002, I married Mrs. Groovy. And it’s been a rollicking good ride ever since. In fact, my marriage has gone so swimmingly, my current views on marriage are much less cynical.
Now, providing that your partner is a decent human being—who is faithful, treats you with respect, and is willing to put your wants on equal footing with his or her wants—marriage is an awesome institution. And you would be foolish not to take advantage of it. Here’s why.
1. Two incomes
There have only been two times in my adult life when I’ve been able to save money.
The first time was when I moved back into mommy and daddy’s house in my early 30s. It was a completely humbling situation, but it allowed me to save enough money to make a down payment on a condo.
The second time was when I married Mrs. Groovy. And it’s pretty easy to understand why. When we first got married, Mrs. Groovy earned roughly half of what I earned. But she really didn’t add too much to the cost of running our household. Food bills went up a little. And our clothing, transportation, and debt-servicing costs went up a bit as well. But other than that, nothing really changed. The mortgage, HOA, utilities, taxes, and insurance were all unaffected by Mrs. Groovy’s presence.
So what happens when household income goes up a lot and household expenses go up a little? You have more money to save, providing you can withstand the lure of lifestyle creep. By the time Mrs. Groovy and I left New York in 2006, we were saving roughly $2,000 per month. Now we’re saving roughly $6,000 a month (including employer contributions). And there’s no way Mrs. Groovy and I could have accomplished this without establishing Team Groovy. Marriage introduced us to the miracle of two-income households.
2. Two sets of hands
Life is a cruel taskmaster, chaining you to an unrelenting number of chores and responsibilities. And if you’re single, you only have 168 hours a week to throw at life’s demands.
But you really don’t have 168 hours a week. You have to sleep, after all. And you have to work. And while work is one of life’s responsibilities, it’s a huge time suck that cares not a whit about the other things in your life craving attention. The laundry, the lawn, the kids—they can all wait. Nothing gets done until you’ve spent a least eight hours in a cubicle doing things to make your boss rich.
What happens, then, when life’s demands require more hours than you have to give? Things fall by the wayside.
When I was single—cleaning, grocery shopping, and cooking fell by the wayside. My bathroom was a disgrace. And if I wasn’t shoving fast food down my gullet, I was feasting on my favorite home-cooked meal—bean and cheese burritos nuked in the microwave. Man, was I a mess.
But all that changed when I got married. Mrs. Groovy brought another set of hands to the Groovy household. That gave us 336 person-hours a week to throw at our combined chores and responsibilities. And here’s the beauty of that situation. Mrs. Groovy didn’t bring that many extra chores and responsibilities with her. The math, in a sense, worked out just like it did with our two-income household experience. The good, represented by the number of household person-hours, went up a lot. And the bad, represented by the additional household chores and responsibilities, went up a little. We now had the hours to manage our affairs properly.
Two sets of hands were a godsend. And as our marriage evolved, and as our division of labor became more aligned with our individual strengths, the benefits of two sets of hands became even more manifest. Today, the bathrooms are clean. My burrito consumption is way down. And most important of all, life is decidedly less stressful. I no longer have to worry about cleaning clothes, cooking meals, buying groceries, paying bills, making doctor appointments, and booking hotels. And Mrs. Groovy no longer has to worry about cleaning dishes, confronting home improvements, tracking expenses, managing investments, killing bugs, and lifting heavy objects.
Let’s face it, men need focus and direction. Without a civilizing force; that is, without something to corral our aggressive and present-oriented natures, we men can do some pretty dumb things. That’s why our jails, methadone clinics, and skid rows are dominated by our gender.
Now, I didn’t need Mrs. Groovy to stay out of jail or keep me away from illicit drugs. But I did need her to get my act together. Prior to our marriage, my life was characterized by too much beer, too much fast food, too much boorishness, and too much financial stupidity. But she changed this. She got me to direct my energies toward more fruitful activities. She got me to adopt more worthwhile attitudes. She—and I’m loathe to admit this—made me a much better person.
Did I make Mrs. Groovy a better person? Absolutely! But I’ll let her recount the numerous flaws I lovingly corrected. Perhaps she’ll be so kind to do so in the comments section? Or maybe she’ll do it in a Mrs. Groovy post?
Most of us want to matter.
But most of us have very pedestrian talents. So we’re never going to score the winning touchdown in the Super Bowl. We’re never going to cure cancer. And we’re never going to free an oppressed people from tyranny. The world will neither grieve nor notice when we pass away.
And that’s okay. You can still have a meaningful life. You can become a teacher. You can become a caregiver in a nursing home. You can start a charity. Or, you can get married.
You get married, and you’ll become the center of the universe for at least one other person. Have a kid, and you’ll become the center of the universe for at least two other people.
5. Big hairy audacious goals
I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: life is the ultimate team sport.
Think of the goals that people commonly have for themselves—buy a house, build a successful career, have kids, raise those kids to become responsible adults, pay for their college educations, pay for their weddings, and save enough money to retire in dignity. Good grief is that intimidating. The money and time it takes to accomplish all of these things is astounding.
So why go it alone? Wouldn’t it be easier to attack these goals with two incomes, two sets of hands, and two brains?
Within the past two years or so, Mrs. Groovy and I achieved financial independence. Come this October, we’ll say goodbye to the W-2 world forever. And there’s no way we would have accomplished this herculean task separately.
If you got a number of big hairy audacious goals, do yourself a favor: get the best teammate you could possibly have—a freakin’ spouse.
Okay, groovy freedomists, that’s all I got. If you want to be a better person, if you want to be somebody’s hero, and if you want the resources and mindset to accomplish big hairy audacious goals, seriously consider the institution of marriage. When done right, it’s the ticket to a supremely rewarding life.
So what say you? Is my ode to marriage over the top? Or is it spot on? I’d love to hear your thoughts, particularly if you’re married.