Marriage Material

February Men's Room column

The first time it happened, I felt crushed and emotionally drained, unsure of how to handle the unnatural order of an unraveled romance.

We’d dated for a couple of years, this young woman and I, both in our early twenties, each of us new to the serious business of a serious relationship – meaning, we were finally adult enough that our primary concerns didn’t involve plans for the prom. We got along great. She carried a constant enthusiasm for life and always saw the best in everyone, which explained how she tolerated my sarcasm and downbeat worldview. My family adored her; hers found me tolerable. I introduced her to folk music and photography. She introduced me to the glory of speaking without filters and laughing in the face of consequences.

We went our separate ways eventually, as work put us in distant towns, where we found different friends, and, inevitably, new interests. Soon after we broke up, she met another guy, fresh love, and in no time they got engaged. They married on a Saturday afternoon, and my parents attended the ceremony with big smiles and full, bittersweet hearts. I busied myself with work that day, feeling heavy and distracted. I got nothing done.

The next woman I got close to was older than me, patiently putting her life back together after a toxic divorce. We ran free for a while, filled with mutual attraction and front-burner fun. Then things cooled off, and not long after, she found someone else, and they, too, got married.

Then it happened with another woman, the third in a row. And, then a fourth.

To date, eight women have gone from a relationship with me straight to the marriage altar with the next guy who came along. The ninth could happen any day now. This is, after all, the Month of Love.

Surely, this has nothing to do with me, right?

I can imagine a therapist struggling to enlighten me.

“Do you see a pattern here?” she’d ask.

“All I see is a pattern of women itching to get married,” I’d say.

“All eight of them?”

“Every last one,” I’d say.

“And, you think it’s just coincidence?”

“So, you agree with me,” I’d say.

After the therapist throws me out of her office, I’d be left wondering what all this says about my former girlfriends. Perhaps, it says they knew a bullet when they dodged one, and they raced to safe haven the instant they got the chance.

Maybe, it says that, compared to me, any other guy on earth was a bona fide catch. Or, it could say their relationship with me taught them something about men as marriage material, and I just didn’t measure up.

And, what does all this say about me? Am I the romantic shipwreck that flings women into the turbulent waters of uncertainty and sends them swimming to I Do Island? Am I the man who makes all other men look good enough to hang onto forever? Am I the ailment, or the cure?

I know eight women, and maybe nine, who’d answer those questions differently than I would. They wouldn’t be right.

Would they?


To view more of illustrator Mark Weber’s work, go to


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Categories: Culture