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The Secret to Marriage Is Never Getting Married

来源:纽约时报    2017-10-11 09:48:36

        I am often asked if I am married. Sometimes I lie and say that I am. Sometimes I lie and say that I am not. Neither answer feels entirely truthful to me.        常有人问我是不是已经结婚了。有时候我会撒谎说结了。有时候我会撒谎说没结。两个回答对我而言都不算是完全准确。
        If I say I am not married, the true answer, people occasionally try to set me up with their offspring. They seem to think I would be a great daughter-in-law. Actually, I would be a great daughter-in-law. I send thank-you cards. I am a terrific conversationalist. I can bake a pie.        如果说我没结婚,也就是如实回答,有的人就会试图把他们的儿子介绍给我。他们似乎认为,我应该是个很不错的媳妇。事实上我的确应该能当个好媳妇。我会发致谢卡。我非常会聊天。我会烘焙。
        I met the man I am not married to the second week of college.        我在上大学的第二周结识了这个没有跟我结婚的男人。
        “You’re wearing black,” Hans said. “I’m wearing black.”        “你穿黑的,”汉斯说。“我穿黑的。”
        This was said with some irony; we were standing in a black box theater. Everyone was wearing black. He had a girlfriend, so we didn’t get together until several months later. We have been together ever since, 21 years.        这话是带点讽刺的;我们当时站在一个黑盒子剧场里。所有人都穿黑的。他有个女朋友,因此我们几个月后才在一起。此后我们一直在一起,21年。
        A year before I met Hans, a relative of his opened a credit card in his name and charged the better portion of another relative’s wedding. And then she forgot to pay the bill. For years. Forever, actually.        遇到汉斯一年前,他的一个亲戚用他的名字开了张信用卡,用它支付了另一个亲戚的婚礼的相当一部分开销。然后她就忘了还款。拖了很多年。事实上,始终没还过。
        Hans didn’t find out until two years after the crime, when he was applying to graduate school. Even after making arrangements to pay off the debt, his credit was ruined and he couldn’t get student loans. The credit card company told him the only way to clear his credit would be to take the relative to court. Identity theft is a serious crime, the company said, and she could possibly go to jail.        汉斯在两年后才发现这一罪行,当时他要申请读研究生。尽管想方设法还掉了欠款,他的信用还是毁了,得不到学生贷款。信用卡公司告诉他,恢复信用的唯一办法是把亲戚告上法庭。公司说身份盗窃是严重的罪行,她可能会因此入狱。
        Hans wouldn’t do it because the woman had a child, and he didn’t want the child to grow up without a mother. I liked that about him. He was in his early 20s and less than poor. But what difference did it make? He was a person of integrity, and we were in love. We had been together six months.        他不会那么做,因为那个女人有一个孩子,他不想让那个孩子在成长过程中失去母亲的陪伴。我爱这样的他。二十几岁的他,穷得不能再穷。但又有什么关系?他是一个正直的人,我们坠入了爱河。当时我们已经在一起六个月了。
        It can be awkward to describe this situation to people I don’t know. They tend to ask follow-up questions: “Why didn’t you just clear the credit cards and then get married?”        向我不认识的人描绘这种情况会有点尴尬。他们往往会问如下问题:“你为什么不结清卡债,然后结婚?”
        “Why didn’t I?” I say lightly.        “我为什么没这么做呢?”我轻声说。
        The answer is: many reasons. Because I was 18 when I met him and didn’t know how long the relationship would last. Because it was a lot of money and I was embarrassed to ask my parents for help. Because neither of us had regular jobs and we both wanted to be artists more than we wanted to be married people. Because one of us needed good credit in order to rent apartments and charge groceries. Because by the time we had the means to make honest people of ourselves, we felt as if we had been together too long to bother.        答案是:有许多原因。因为我遇到他的时候只有18岁,不知道这段关系能维持多久;因为那是一大笔钱,我不好意思让父母帮忙;因为我们俩都没有固定工作,而且二人成为艺术家的意愿都强于成为已婚者的意愿;因为我们中的一个人得有良好的信用,以便租公寓、购置杂货;因为到了有办法把自己变成虔诚老实的人的时候,我们又觉得在一起已经太长时间了,没必要再费事。
        But I don’t say any of these things.        但是这些事我都没有说。
        “Don’t you like weddings?” someone will ask.        “你不喜欢婚礼吗?”有人会问。
        I love weddings. The odd mix of religion, government and pageantry moves me. It’s like theater, but with real people.        我喜欢婚礼。这种宗教、政府管理与盛典的奇异组合令我心动。它就像一场戏剧,不过参与者都是生活中的人。
        I have been to weddings. I have seen the white dresses. I have worn the bridesmaid dress. I have smelled the roses. I have never caught the bouquet, but I have watched its trajectory with enthusiasm. I have heard the wedding band play “Shout,” and I have gotten a little bit louder now.        我参加过婚礼。我见过白色的礼服。我也穿过伴娘礼服。我闻到过玫瑰的香气。我从来没有抓到过花束,但我曾经热切地注视它的轨迹。我听过婚礼乐队演奏《呼唤》(Shout),现在我的声音变得更响亮了一些。
        I have shopped the registries, and I have sent the pasta makers, the towels, the knives and the vases. I am comfortable with the fact that as a person who has no plans to marry, I will not receive the pasta maker, the towel, the knives or the vase in return.        我为新人们买过东西,我送过他们意面机、毛巾、刀具和花瓶。作为一个没有结婚计划的人,我不会礼尚往来地收到意面机、毛巾、刀具或花瓶。对此,我感到无所谓。
        Hans and I have been together a long time, and for better or for worse, we have those things already.        汉斯和我在一起已经很久了,不管是好还是坏,这些东西我们都有了。
        My accountant recently broached the subject of marriage with me. He has been my accountant for the last 13 years, and I feel as if he’s my second most important long-term relationship. We were discussing whether I should consider getting married now.        最近,我的会计师和我聊起结婚这个话题。过去13年来,他一直都是我的会计师,我觉得他是我第二重要的长期关系。我们讨论我现在该不该考虑结婚。
        I said, “It feels like it has been too long.”        我说,“感觉时间已经太长了。”
        I guess because I am turning 40 this year, he said, “Well, there are reasons to be married when you are old.” The reasons fell largely into two categories: What happens when I die? And what happens if I get sick and then die?        我猜是因为今年我就满40岁了的缘故,他说:“等你老了,就会有很多结婚的理由。”这些原因大致可以分为两类:我死时该怎么办?如果我生病快死了该怎么办?
        Once, on the way back from Japan, a customs agent was furious at Hans and me for sharing a checked suitcase when we weren’t related. We were not family, which meant we needed to speak to customs separately. So how to deal with the problem of a shared suitcase? What was a customs agent to do?        有一次从日本回来的时候,一个海关工作人员对我和汉斯大发脾气,我俩之间没有任何亲属关系,但我们却共用一个托运行李箱。我们不是家人,这意味着我们需要和海关单独交谈。该怎样处理共用一个手提箱的问题呢?海关工作人员要怎么办?
        “Well, you see,” I remember saying, “when he was in college, a relative opened up this credit card, and. ...”        “嗯,你看,”我记得我当时说,“他上大学的时候,一个亲戚开了张信用卡,然后……”
        Basically, this encounter encapsulated the reason to get married at this peaceful midpoint of our lives. Because as you get old, per my accountant, life becomes a series of skirmishes with customs agents.        基本上,这次经历可以概括在我们平静的中年时光结婚的理由。因为你老了,我的会计师说,生活就成了同海关工作人员之间的一系列小规模冲突。
        I know he is right. At this point, though, the math bothers me. I don’t want to start over again at Year 1. I worry that if Hans and I were to get married now, it would somehow be like saying the last two decades didn’t count.        我知道他是对的。然而,在这个时候,相关数字令我感到困扰。我不想从“第一年”从头开始计数。我担心,如果我和汉斯现在结婚,就好像是在说过去20年根本不算数一样。
        I have had four dogs with the man I am not married to. I have dedicated several of my books to him, but really, they all could be. He is my most important reader and creative collaborator. We have traveled the world with one suitcase. We have cooked more than 100 Blue Apron meals without killing each other. We have shared a dozen different addresses. We have built a life. But we are not married. We live in California, which means we are not even common-law married.        我拥有四条狗,以及一个没有和我结婚的男人。我写的好几本书都是题献给他的,但其实我所有的书都可以题献给他。他是我最重要的读者与创意合作者。我们共用一个行李箱走遍了世界。我们用蓝围裙服务(Blue Apron)外送的配菜做了100多顿饭,还没有把对方杀掉。我们共享过十几个各种各样的地址。我们已经建立了共同的生活。但我们没有结婚。我们住在加利福尼亚,这意味着我们甚至不是民事意义上的婚姻关系。
        Some time ago — we had not been married for 15 years — when we had an apartment by Riverside Park in New York, Hans woke up, looked out the window and said with boyish, almost biblical conviction, “Everything is telling me that’s Kristen Schaal.”        前段时间——二人保持不结婚的关系满15年的时候——我们住纽约河滨公园的公寓里,汉斯有一次醒来时眼望着窗外,用孩子气的,几乎是宗教般的坚定口吻说:“一切都告诉我,她肯定是克里斯汀·沙尔(Kristen Schaal)。”
        She was on one of our favorite shows, “The Flight of the Conchords.” We went down to walk our dog and the woman was still sitting in the park.        她是我们最喜欢的电视剧《弦乐航班》(The Flight of the Conchords)里的演员。我们下去遛狗,那女人还坐在公园里。
        It was not Kristen Schaal. It could not have been less Kristen Schaal. And now we say this to each other all the time: “Everything is telling me that’s Kristen Schaal.” It is amazing how often this can be worked into conversation. This won’t be funny to anyone but the man I am not married to.        那不是克里斯汀·沙尔。她和克里斯汀·沙尔一点都不像。直到现在,我们一直拿他的话打趣:“一切都告诉我,她肯定是克里斯汀·沙尔。”我们经常说起这句话,简直是太逗了。换了别人根本不会觉得有意思,只除了这个没有和我结婚的男人。
        Our friends recently got divorced. They had been together as long as we had, and I had thought they were happy. But you can never know what goes on between two people. I asked her, “What percentage of time would you say you were happy?”        我们的一对朋友最近离婚了,他俩的恋爱史和我俩一样长,我一直以为他们很开心。但你永远不可能知道另外两个人之间发生的事。我问她:“你有百分之多少的时间是快乐的?”
        “Twenty percent,” she said. Several weeks later, she revised her estimate: “Maybe 2 percent.”        “百分之二十,”她说。几星期后,她更正了自己的估计:“也许百分之二吧。”
        “Two!” I said. “How can a person live in a state of 2 percent happiness?”        “百分之二!”我说。 “只有百分之二的时间是幸福的,这日子还怎么过?”
        “Perhaps 3,” she revised again.        “也许百分之三吧,”,她再次更正。
        Hans and I are happy together most of the time. We have the usual domestic squabbles. Our most frequent argument ends with him throwing up his hands and saying, “I’m not a handyman!”        汉斯和我大部分时间都很开心。我们有也有家庭生活中常见的口角。我们的争论往往以他举起双手说:“我可不是居家能手!”而告终。
        Sometimes I think the secret to a long and happy marriage is never to get married in the first place, although there are surely married couples that are as happy as we are.        有时候我觉得,要想维持长久幸福的婚姻,秘诀就是永远不要结婚,尽管肯定也有其他已婚夫妇能和我们一样开心。
        Not long ago, when a woman asked me the marriage question, I stumbled on what I believed to be the correct answer: “I have been with the same man for more than two decades, but I am not sure either of us believes in marriage.” I felt clever for stating my situation so concisely.        不久前,当一个女人问我关于婚姻的问题时,我迟疑地说出了我自认为正确的答案:“我同一个男人在一起已经有二十多年了,但我不确定我俩是否相信婚姻。”我居然能够如此简明扼要地表述自己的情况,不禁觉得自己很聪明。
        “Belief,” she scoffed. “Belief is for little children and Santa Claus.”        “相信,”她嗤之以鼻。 “这是为小孩和圣诞老人预备的。”
        She was right. It’s just words to say I don’t believe in marriage. Having stayed with a person for more than 20 years, I must believe in marriage. I must believe that life is better in a pair than it is single.        她是对的。我只是在口头上说自己不相信婚姻。同另一个人在一起生活了二十多年,我肯定还是相信婚姻的。我肯定是相信两个人在一起生活要比单身生活好一点。
        When I say I don’t believe in marriage, what I mean to say is: I understand the financial and legal benefits, but I don’t believe the government or a church or a department store registry can change the way I already feel and behave.        当我说自己不相信婚姻的时候,我的意思是:我明白财务和法律方面的好处,但我不相信政府、教堂或百货公司里的婚姻登记处可以改变我对事物的感受或行为方式。
        Or maybe it would. Because when the law doesn’t bind you as a couple, you have to choose each other every day. And maybe the act of choosing changes a relationship for the better. But successfully married people must know this already.        或者也会吧。因为如果法律并不能将你们作为夫妇永远捆绑在一起,你们就必须每天都选择对方。也许这种选择的行为可以改善亲密关系。 但拥有成功婚姻的人们肯定早就清楚这一点了。
        I wake up in the morning and I look at Hans and think, I love you. I choose you above any other person. I chose you 21 years ago and I choose you today. I believe you to be a constant in my life, and I, a constant in yours. Loving you is the closest thing I have to faith. Everything is telling me that’s Kristen Schaal.        我在早晨醒来,看着汉斯,心想:我爱你,在所有人当中,我选择了你。我在21年前选择了你,我在今天同样选择你。 我相信我的生活中永远有你,你的生活中也永远有我。爱你是我最接近于信仰的事。 一切都告诉我,她肯定是克里斯汀·沙尔。

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