A Marriage of Convenience


A couple of weeks ago I took in a Raptors game with Mr. Should-be Right. Since the Raptors weren’t doing much and we could only really spend about three minutes marveling at the fact that Juwan Howard is still in the NBA despite being at least 80 years old, we had a lot of time to talk. And, as always, our conversation eventually drifted back to our marriage pact.

We picked a new deadline after which we will marry, discussed the logistics of how it would work, and then we started musing about what our marriage would be like.

What we concluded is that it would probably be pretty fucking great.

The thought process behind this conclusion is pretty meandering, but what it basically boiled down to was the fact that Mr.Should-be Right and I  would have a great marriage because we would be more respectful and considerate of one another than other couples we know. We would have lower expectations of each other than most people in relationships do. And the reason all of these things would be true is that we are not in love.

Sounds crazy, right? But think about it for a second. When we’re in romantic relationships, there are expectations that we change to accomodate our partners. Not change who we are necessarily, but at very least, change our behaviour. A certified pussy hound may not have to give up his desire for new coochie when he gets into a relationship, but he damn sure is expected to curb his consumption of it.  And that ball-breaking female CEO who kicks ass and takes names at work is likely expected to relax and let her husband call at least some of the shots when she gets home. So yeah – love + committed relationships = change. And changing who we are for the sake of others – especially when we view these changes as being unreciprocated or happening against our will – sometimes leads to resentment. Which leads to shitty behaviour. Which leads to fights and unhappiness.

Now I don’t mean to sound as if I’m idealistic, but the fact of the matter is that, should Mr. SBR and I ever marry, there are certain things we’re just not going to expect of one another. There are certain liberties we’re just not going to feel free to take. Because we’re not in love, I wouldn’t ask more from him than basic respect and consideration; nor would he expect any more than that from me. Without the passion and messiness that comes with love, we’d have a quiet and pleasant life together.

Meanwhile, the Spectacular Asshole and I hit a little bump on the road to reconciliation recently. I’m not going to go into details because a)that’s another post for another day and b)this post is already too long for a Monday but suffice it to say that some shit went down that had each of us wondering whether the other has really changed. We had a fight (during which he administered the most phenomenal hush mama) then a talk, and we seem to be back to our regularly scheduled programming of taking tentative steps back toward one another.

Now what went on between Mr. SA and I was not the worst thing in the world, but if he was a brand-new dude it would have been grounds for immediate dismissal. But for some reason, I’ve been hesitant to let it go. During an epic phone conversation with my girl Nickerz (who has the patience of Job when it comes to all matters max), I realized that the reason I can’t quit Mr. SA just yet has little to do with who he is and much more to do with what he can do for me.

Now before you think that I’ve gone gold-digger on you, let me explain. It may shock you guys to know this given the amazingness that I portray here and across the internets, but there is shit in my life that I need to deal with. The specifics of the shit is basically the only thing in my life I’ve vowed to never ever write about in here, but suffice it to say that it’s seriously serious shit that requires serious attention. And being the lazyass that I am, I put almost no effort into resolving my shit. But it’s starting to catch up to me.

Whatever else we can say about Mr. SA, there is one way in which he stays winning over every man I’ve ever been with: he doesn’t suffer laziness. When I was with him he was on me about fucking everything – from how much of my paycheque I was saving to how often I checked my oil to what time I went to bed last night to when last I had my ends trimmed. The man even offered to grease my scalp because he wasn’t sure I was giving my hair adequate attention.  Nothing got past Mr. SA in the past and any attempt to rationalize me not taking care of business was met with strict orders to stop talking and get it done.

In my twenties, this kind of attention to detail was frustrating. I internalized it as control and rebelled against it like the little girl I was. But in my thirties that shit is very appealing. Partly because – now that I’ve become mouthy in my old age – I have very few people in my life who have the balls to tell me to my face that I’m fucking up, but also because I now internalize it not as control, but as care. Because in addition to roughing me into handling my business, he also offers unwavering support. He is the best cheerleader when it comes to handling my business. And I know that if I was with him he wouldn’t allow me to stay complacent about the shit I need to deal with. And that is appealing as hell.

Right now in my life there are men that amuse me. Men that frustrate me and men that baffle me. There are men who elude me and men who give me butterflies. And then there are these two men. Men who I have no real romantic feelings for, but who are good looks for me in practical ways. And since I’ve long since given up on the idea of falling in love again, settling down with someone who makes sense seems like the smart thing to do.

But what do you guys think? Is it okay to be with a man simply because of what he provides for you – be it money, laughter, good sex, inspiration to be better or the ability to just be yourself? Or does the absence of real feelings trump the practicalities? Speak on it in the comments.

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bag lady. digital nerd. beauty junkie. shoe whore. i'm a sucker for big words and box-fresh kicks. know a little bit about a lot of things and have something to say about everything.

Comments 26

  1. Malik says:

    “Is it okay to be with a man simply because of what he provides for you – be it money, laughter, good sex, inspiration to be better or the ability to just be yourself?”

    Sounds ripe for another episode of the Adonis show. I have no insight to offer so I’ll just check back later and hope and pray he says something ‘Adonis like’.

    1. Adonis says:

      Wow… Just wow…

      I hope I delivered on that one… Though I think I was pretty tame…

  2. Renè says:

    An informal research on this issue once resulted in this conclusion: The marriages that last the longest are those borne out of convenience, not love. Weird but true.

    So yes, it’s okay to be with a man simply for what he provides, not necessarily the material aspect alone, without the feelings.

    1. keisha brown says:

      that doesn’t surprise me.
      reminds me of the scene from the wedding planner when jlo’s dad is explaining the arranged marriage he had. respect grew to like and like grew to love.
      (or something along those lines)

      1. Kema says:

        “respect grew to like and like grew to love.”

        I actually heard this same kind of logic repeated by an Indian friend of mine who had an arranged marriage.

  3. Jubilance says:

    I have $5 that says marriages that come from some form of convenience or simply aren’t based on “being in love” last longer & have happier partners than those marriages that come from that “ooh I love them so much, they complete me” place. Just Jubi’s speculation, tho, I have no data to back that up.

    I think ppl put way too much emphasis on love, being in love, falling in love, etc and dont put enough emphasis on the things that actually make longterm relationships work – communication, compatibility, trust, etc. Marriages of convenience tend to have more of those things.

    1. Reecie says:


      I still want my spouse to find me irresistible and vice versa though. if not for the entire marriage definitely in the beginning–meaning first 5-10 yrs, lol! but compatibility and just “fitting together” in the most normal of instances is definitely underrated.

  4. iriediva says:

    They can definitely work but my question is then where do u go when youre in the mood for some of that soul burning love or jus some romance?

    Romance seems hard to come by if marriage is not borne by love

  5. Menelaus says:

    When I first read this and knowing that you have a carribean background I was like, “Is she going to tell us one of those random stories where we find out that nobody’s parents are married to each other, they all married to random people just to come to America?” Real talk, my boy was 21 when his parents got married, he was stunned, he thought his parents were married his whole life. Turns out his dad was actually married to his aunt.

    1. LaLaBakir says:

      *insert Dr.Jay blank stare*

      1. max says:

        Ha! That’s exactly what I did!

  6. Flyy says:

    Love is great. I’d like love but what I NEED is a man who gives me the “inspiration to be better or the ability to just be yourself.” If I’m not comfortable enough to be my complete self… how long can we last? I can’t spend 25 years pretending to be something I’m not. If you don’t wanna make me be a better person… I won’t be happy either. The one part of being married I look forward to is being on Team [His Last Name]… and being the best partner I can. As a team, I want us to be the best we can be and to further that mission I have to be the best that I can be… I want to do it b/c my mate inspires me and I hope I do the same for him.

    1. Tellylonglegs says:

      Yeah, so Flyy is definitely in my head today. Lol

  7. Sam Sharpe says:

    “Is it okay to be with a man simply because of what he provides for you – be it money, laughter, good sex, inspiration to be better or the ability to just be yourself? Or does the absence of real feelings trump the practicalities?”

    What I find curious is that people never ask this question in reverse. No one questions it when you choose to be with someone simply b/c you love them even if it comes with a host of practical issues. People actually defend bullsh** relationships on the whole “but they’re in love” stuff. It would be nice, probably ideal, to be in a situation where the practical and emotional/romantic all add up but I don’t see a problem with being pragmatic about relationship choices and choosing a partner on the whole “he don’t give me butterflies but he sure as hell won’t give me syphilis either” tip.

    1. Mrs.Brightside says:

      I think this is a very good point. I feel that the question of is love enough gets raised but victims of colorful Disney/Hollywood have been programmed to place love above all else. “No love will not pay the bills; but it makes being homeless a lot easier.” Not my sentiments but my understanding of the mentality.

      I battle between which is more important to me; love or security. Since I’m young love is winning but as the years go on security gets stronger and stronger. It’s all about values. What means the most to you?

      Also butterflies or a lack there of often directly correlates to the intensity of sexual attraction. In committing to a lifetime relationship sexual needs have to be considered. But that’s just my 5 cents

  8. LaLaBakir says:

    “Or does the absence of real feelings trump the practicalities?”

    Well what do you mean by “real” feelings? I think it’s safe to say that you have feelings for SA and SBR, even if on a friendship level. That doesn’t make them any less real. The feelings may not be butterfly status, but I don’t think the absence of that (which tends to be fleeting and deceitful) should trump practicalities.

    I made a similar pact w/ one of my homeboys. He’s a good dude. We get along great and would probably do very well in a relationship with one another. We agreed that if we’re both single in 5 years, we’ll give it a whirl. *shrugs* At this point, what’s the worse that can happen?

  9. jas says:

    This post broke my lurking status.
    What you described as your ‘marriage of conveneice’actually sounds like marriage. I’m not married but looking at the most successful marriages in my family, fairytale love isn’t what brought them together or maintaining their relationship. My uncle,who’s been married for 26 years married my aunt because she’s a great cook and he knew she’d take good care of him. To this day, he still can only cook pasta and rice but he’s provided a great life for her and their 3 kids. He’s always said that making his marriage work is a mixture of emotion and love sometimes doesn’t make the top 5. That’s my two cents for the day.

    For the record,Max, I don’t comment because I hate typing on my bb and my job has deemed your site nsfw but I think your post are pretty entertaining.

    1. keisha brown says:

      max-logic? nsfw?? lol. 😉

  10. keisha brown says:

    love + committed relationships x expectation of change / resentment = why love is complicated.
    this was an interesting post, but i’ll let you know when the time comes for me.

  11. Mrs.Brightside says:

    If I were advising a friend I would say yes, it is perfectly okay to be with a man because of what he provides for you as long as you all have discussed the acceptable ways for you to be provided with the things he can’t or doesn’t. I’m reading this to be very similar to the 80/20 rule where it’s understood that only 80% of want you want and need will be provided. That’s fine with me but the conversation about where the 20% is coming from must be had.

    It’s often the little stuff that makes people break deals or end marriages. It is my experience that avoidable deprivation hardens the heart. If you seriously feel like you will be sufficiently satisfied go with the convenient route. I would hope that eventually the fact that a person provides me with certain wants and needs would turn into love. As for me at this point in my life I’m still open to the possibility of finding the total package.

  12. Malik says:

    As long as you both acknowledge that is the reason why you’re together. It depends on what type of person (a woman in this case) you are though. Some people just can’t deal with the complacency that this relationship gives them. They may enjoy the positive aspects that it brings them, but their core personality may be more inclined to attributes that the person they ‘settled’ with doesn’t give them.

    As asinine as the ‘love conquers all’ trope that permeates through our world, it does have the benefit, if you’re in that type of relationship, of being more likely to be sustained if there is ever any dramatic blow back in either/both of your lives. If you’re more invested in the person outside of a commodity, you’re more apt to stick through parts of each other lives and your relationship when it hits the shits.

    Blue Valentine is a great movie you should watch it. Actually has to do with the subject at hand as well!

  13. Therese says:

    long time reader first time commenter!

    I just had to comment on this post, max, cuz I am really feeling this topic. I go back and forth about this issue what seems like weekly and just cannot decide.

    I ended a serious relationship a while back because despite this man having everything a girl could possibly want on her checklist (great job, 6’3″ – I’m 5’9″ so that was awesome! lol, looks good in a suit, beautiful smile, appreciated my eclectic taste in music, was creative in planning activities, traveled all ovah the dyam place for the time we were together, blah blah, as he put it we were the perfect DINK couple (double income, no kids). But there was something about the way we communicated which caused me to not feel an emotional intimacy for him. As I told him, I felt more like we were companions that got along and didn’t wanna kill each other when were together, but I didn’t feel like we would ever be BEST FRIENDS, which is what I think I should be aiming for. Pleasing physical intimacy and all that was definitely there too but I’m BIG on needing that emotional connection, someone who knows my ins and outs and can actually predict my next move – at least that’s what I was used to from my other one serious relationship. This dude had marriage material written all over him; I even pictured myself going that far and I’m sure he would have let me.

    At the time I did it, I was happy with my decision – don’t waste his time if you don’t feel you could ever fall in love with him. But now, I think about whether I should have given it a longer shot, since he has sooooo many good qualities and that those deep feeling wouldve eventually developed??? But deep down I knew I wouldve hated myself should I never get to that point and I’ve done wasted his precious and valuable time.

    I still dont know the answer. Love the blog!!

  14. MsEvaHoney says:

    I am right now in a similar situation. There is a man that is ten yrs older than me, who respects me, adores me. He is very intelligent, works hard and has made a good living for himself. He has one child that is an adult and is willing to have two more for me. What’s the problem. I am in no way attracted to this man. When we talk there is no spark, when We see each other i feel nada. He is a nice guy and at 30 I sometimes think what the hell, he looks good on paper and willing to provide the things that I want so….what’s a girl to do? Love is nice and all but it don’t pay the rent and we all know the rent is too damn high. There is a chance that you may grow to love him in that special way, but if you don’t is the end of the world? probably not. If you both go into the situation with the same expectations hell go for it. Life is too short to question every thing all the time.

  15. RedLady821 says:

    I opt for love. I know it’s difficult and messy and complicated but even when my husband makes me insane I know that I would feel ripped in half without him.

    I do know that there are theories about arranged marriages, but I can only speak from what I know and experience.

  16. Adonis says:

    Before I read the comments… I will say this…

    Max, being that the image of marriage sucks right now… very few people seem to get it right…

    THEREFORE, I am excited that you are setting up marriage the way you see fit…

    Guys like me, have no business telling you how to run your emotional affairs…

    Just make sure that the marriage is a marriage of very high quality… not just in image…

    Please & Thank You

    1. Adonis says:

      Oh, now I actually read the post again (didn’t comment on Monday), here I am…

      All I ask is for women collectively (esp. BW), is to raise their standards… & do what is best for their children (being that they tend not to give a sh*t about their well-beings at times)

      Again… Marriage & love is a very nebulous thing… So again… set that sh*t up the way you see fit, and hopefully everybody involved gets satiated out of the deal…

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