Commitment Device

Food for Thought

Today is our 15-year anniversary, although we’ve been living together for more than 20 years. I vividly remember the moment I proposed to her. We were riding the elliptical trainers side by side at Health & Racquet Club at 23rd and 6th Avenue. Looking at the LED display in front me, I said to her, “Since you are pregnant and you need health insurance, we should probably get married.” She accepted by saying something like, “OK, I guess so.” Some days later, we went down to City Hall with our friend Nadav as the legally required witness. Afterward, we had brunch at a Cuban restaurant in Nolita.

Today was a bit more eventful. We had brunch at a Lebanese restaurant in the East Village. On the way home, we stopped by at a hardware store to buy a strip of LCD lights so that I could install it in her closet. Apparently, she has been struggling for years trying to identify her clothes in her dark closet. While we were there, we also bought a spray to kill the insects on our house plant. To top it off, we went to have a picnic by the East River.

Part of the reason people get married and have a big wedding is that it works as a “commitment device.” It’s a term in economics that refers to strategies people use to make it harder on themselves to be lured by temptations to break commitments. For instance, an annual gym membership fee makes it harder for you to quit as you’d be wasting a lot of money if you did.

Our marriage may seem unromantic, but the fact that neither of us felt the need to have a commitment device, to me, was romantic. Incidentally, my parents never had a wedding either. They ran away from home and got married on their own.

I like romantic stories where the world outside of the two people in love disappears because nothing else matters for them. Even time stops because they don’t care what is happening outside. They don’t worry about the future because they are fully absorbed in the moment.

I’m not saying we are that romantic, but I’ve never felt the conventional idea of “romantic” to be romantic. I’m lucky to have found someone who shares the same sentiment.