Marital status unsure …

A friend of mine, over the Carnival weekend, referred to herself as being “marringled,” a term she went on to define as being so tenuously married that she might as well be single.

The word caught my imagination and, immediately, I thought of a dozen situations – and a thousand people – to whom it might apply; and I wondered if, perhaps, we might lobby to get it onto those ID forms which require one to tick a box: Married, Single, Divorced. In fact, I’m almost certain I’ve seen “Other” as an option on some immigration forms, and I’m wondering, now, if these progressive countries have already recognized “marringled” as an alternative status.

Now, for those who are uncertain, I think I should enumerate some of the qualifying criteria: My friend said that she is married to a feller who, if she left the house one night at 7 o’clock, could and would go to bed at 9 pm and sleep soundly until broad morning, without waking up once to check that she was in the house, at least, if not in the bed. Since her man is not the type that will be dialing her cell phone every three minutes, or calling her girlfriends’ homes to inquire if she had too much to drink and fell asleep there, or raising the alarm at her mother’s house, I think we can safely agree, in this case, that she would check the Marringled category.

Then there is the wife whose husband went to every pre-Carnival fete and left the house every night during the festival, showered, shaved, and cologne, while she watched reality TV until she fell asleep. It wasn’t that she didn’t want to go out, mind you; in fact, she secretly bought two nice outfits and a fashion wig in the event he asked her, but the invitation never came. Just like it never materialized last Carnival, or the one before that, either. Eh-eh! Come to think of it, since they went to his niece’s confirmation back in June 2011, they haven’t stepped out one single time together. This, surely, is a case of her being long marringled.

There are other couples who live together, separately, each having their own bedroom, their own routine, and who don’t even have conversations, except for delivering telephone messages when necessary. If you were to ask him to name two of her girlfriends, he could not; and she simply assumes that he works at the same place he did back when they used to share one vehicle. In such cases, you couldn’t even say that these people are mad at each other; that there is any hostility, at all. Each is simply irrelevant in their partner’s scheme of things. And you know how we say of a couple that’s been together for eons but never tied the knot, “They? They married all to (except for) bless?” Well, at the other extreme I’m referring to, it could just as easily be said, “They? They divorced all to (except for) courthouse.” Another striking example of marringle-ment in the flesh.

I know a feller who used to refer to his wife as being married; he, himself, appeared to be in the relationship either to make up numbers or as an accessory. If I were to speculate, I would say that he viewed himself as a perennial bachelor who, out of some kindness, perhaps – say, the woman was with child – accommodated himself to a marriage in form only. And even though others might not be as up-front about saying it, there are scores and scores of fellers like this: Single while in possession of a wife. You will see them all dey ‘bout the place, opening a business with their woman, going off to Puerto Rico on weekend trips with her, even having second families; they have nothing to hide, because, in their head and heart, they are not “really” married, you see. Some of them will even rationalize it by saying they’ve given the wife all that she deserves, status-wise: A nice home, financial stability, children; and such a man will wonder, with genuine puzzlement, what else she wants from his life. How else, then, can we describe these sisters with the Mrs before their names as anything other than sadly marringled?

Look: Men will be men. But what and who really get my goat are the marringled women who gaze, longingly, at their single sisters and declare that they wish they could do this or do that. Hey! Who are you kidding, other than yourselves? You well know that you could go and come, or go and stay, for all the impact it has on your so-called feller; so why not just do what you want for a change … like he does? You’re not impressing a soul with your wifely devotion or your marital respectability. In fact, when you’re not looking, the very women to whom you’re moaning that you can’t join them after work on Friday for drinks, because they know you have to get home to start Ivan’s supper, they’re giving each other “the eye” and “the coo-yah mouth,” and trying not to mutter one big dirty Chups at your hypocrisy. And why? Because Ivan was at the same wine bar last Friday, and the one before that, buying them drinks; and when they left at 9:45 pm, he was still there! So what supper are you talking about?

Then there are the sisters who are not even pretending to wish they could; they are out-and-out wrathed at the feller wearing the matching wedding band that binds him not at all. And in their rage they are “out there” proving that they can be marringled, too. Somehow, unfortunately, it has escaped them that this game makes no accommodation for female players; and so, unfairly – but you know, Sisters, that the world ain’t level – all they end up with is an adjective, some derogatory tag, in front of their Mrs: like “Wutliss” or, worse, the other “W” that sounds like “H.”

Sistren, you know I am not one to offer advice, since all I have are the questions, anyway, rather than the answers. But I believe it is infinitely simpler to be one thing or the other. In the same way that, even if you are of mixed-blood, you need to check one, single, “race” box, you need to figure out what you’re going to be, or remain: Married or Single. I’ve been both, so I know there can be drawbacks to either status; but unless you are a stone-cold material girl, I can see no perks, no benefits, to being marringled. You’re neither fish nor fowl, nor good red herring, as the British saying goes.

So, Mrs, if you are as unhappy as hell, but cringe at the thought of the alternative category, then tell yourself it’s simply another way, an acceptable version, of saying “Single again,” and tick the “D” box with a flourish. That way, next Carnival, you can be sipping sherry, instead of slinging supper, on a Friday evening. And why not, when your ex-mister will be doing the very same?

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