If marriage came as a pill, here’s what the label on the bottle might say — from an article I wrote in 2009 for The Washington Post:
No advertisement can provide all the information needed to determine if marriage is right for you.
INDICATIONS: Marriage is the therapy of choice for treatment of the condition of being unmarried. Marriage is approved to manage the dread of growing old alone and missing the opportunity to have dinner every night with a special someone without talking. Clinical trials reveal that marriage is recommended if you have found either a true soulmate or someone who has an excellent 401(k).
WARNINGS: You should avoid marriage if you believe the opposite sex should come equipped with a mute button or are unable to hold your own in an argument, however stupid. Never drink alcohol during marriage, as it may ease the inhibition you ordinarily feel about telling your spouse the truth. People suffering from a chronic inability to compromise or adjust the toilet seat immediately after use should also never get married.
PRECAUTIONS: Until you know how you will react to marriage, avoid activities that require alertness, such as a conversation with your new partner. Marriage before either of you is ready may result in divorce – or, equally common, a life together based largely on mutual indifference.
ADVERSE REACTIONS: Marriage may be safe and effective for up to a lifetime. Then again, individual results may vary.
If you notice yourself having any unusual or disturbing thoughts during marriage – such as suicidal impulses – consider it the norm. You may also experience loss of memory, particularly details of your own mistakes. Listening to your spouse for prolonged periods may cause drowsiness, dizziness and headache. You may also feel an urgent need to leave whatever room your spouse currently occupies. Other serious side effects include the growth of a chip on your shoulder.
SPECIAL CONCERNS: Marriage may cause monogamy. It may also cause adultery. Marriage may cause sudden loss of interest in sex with others, or a surge of such interest. Marriage may cause pregnancy. It may also cause children.
CONTRAINDICATIONS: Marriage should never be undertaken in combination with pending divorces, unresolved paternity suits or an undisclosed prison record.
OVERDOSAGE: Marriage is available in several dosage strengths ranging from Staying Together Too Much (100 and 200 mg) to Keeping Apart As Frequently As Humanly Possible (25 and 50 mg).
BENEFITS: Marriage may have multiple rewards. You may find yourself grateful to be relegated to being only the second most important person in the world now. Taken properly, marriage may lead to trust, intimacy and the honoring of vows, as well as an unprecedented ability to bend over backwards. Long-term use, in conjunction with a low-fat diet and regular aerobic exercise, may lead to cooperation and companionship and contentment, not to mention the sharing of the Sunday paper without being asked. Eventually, marriage may bring about long-overdue apologies for misbehavior, plus a newfound willingness to forgive all sins.