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July 8, 2009

Do men really want to get married?

Posted: 01:40 PM ET

By Alex Wellen

Brian Lohse feeds his wife, Alana, cake at their wedding in June.

(CNN) - "Well, what do you think?" his dad asked. Brian Lohse knew exactly what his father was getting at. 

His father had never pressed him about marriage before. But the question had its intended effect: a light switch flipped on.

"I'd never really thought about it. But that was the point right there when I said to myself: 'Oh my gosh, you know what, this is the girl I'm going to marry,' " Brian said. "I can't picture myself spending the rest of my life with any other person than Alana."

Brian, 34, had indeed made the psychological leap. It was time to get this party started. Six months later, he proposed. They married in June.

If you believe the conventional wisdom, Brian's story is the exception.

"Real men" are perceived as committing "till death do us part" for the wrong reasons - they marry out of convenience or under duress, and they acquiesce, kicking and screaming all the way to the altar. Video Watch the author talk about his research »

Somewhere along the way, marriage and masculinity became mutually exclusive. But that stands in stark contrast to the dozens of men I spoke with, who admitted - no, insisted - they've fantasized about popping the question, getting married, even having a wedding.

The circumstances surrounding those light-switch moments varied.

For one man who lost his father, it was the extraordinary outpouring of love and support from his future bride that changed everything; another guy came to the realization when he caught himself balling up his fists in anger the moment someone made a pass at his then-girlfriend; yet another described the emotion of seeing his long-distance girlfriend for the first time after spending months cooped up in a nuclear submarine.

For me, the light bulb popped on at a penny arcade, playing classic '80s arcade games with my girlfriend. Kris destroyed asteroids and hopped barrels with impressive dexterity.

But it was the grace with which she obliterated insects that sealed the deal. Spinning that roller ball, wiping out that quickly descending centipede with master firepower - I had to marry this girl. iReport.com: C'mon guys, tell us YOUR light bulb marriage moment

Here are four more modern-day men who privately disclose that "kick-in-the-pants" moment when each of them determined "this is it":

Tyler Harris added up the numbers

"If you can't afford the ring, you shouldn't be moving toward the wedding right now," said Tyler Harris, 24.

It took him seven years to get the ring. The Virginia couple will marry next May. As a lead underwriter for a bank card processor, Tyler is in the business of assessing risk. Not that Heather was ever a gamble.

"I knew for a very long time that Heather was the girl I wanted to spend the rest of my life with," said Tyler. "[But] I am of the opinion that you shouldn't rush off to get married when you're not really ready; when you don't really have a foundation established; when you can't really support starting to build a life together," he said, looking back at those unstable financial years when he and his fiancée were in school.

For Tyler, once they had jobs and an established income, only then could he give Heather everything she deserved. "It was an 'aha' moment that this thing I wanted to do for so many years, I could actually make it happen. So I did," Tyler laughed.

Craig Wilson made his list

He titled the wish list "Future Wife Qualities," and Craig Wilson, 47, of Portland, Oregon, composed it fresh off a failed marriage of 14 years. Among the 12 desired traits, he wrote: "Glows with happiness and a great sense of humor."

Craig wasn't sure he'd ever marry again, but if he did, he had this list.

With six kids and only two miles between them, Craig and Tracy should have crossed paths, but it would take a pregnant, matchmaking local first-grade teacher to bring them together.

Neonatal nurse Tracy provided the teacher with tips on newborns, and Molly tipped Tracy off to a newly available bachelor named Craig.

"This was the person of my dreams," Craig said. "I remember after dating Tracy into the second or third month, I went back and looked at this thing I'd written, and thought: 'Wow, she hits everything.' "

Craig proposed two months later. Tracy and Craig married last July.

Rabin Nabizadeh found love soberly

"She essentially hated me," recalled Rabin Nabizadeh, 35, of his new bride. I can hear his newborn cooing in the background. "I never stopped loving her."

The couple dated as students in law school, but then Deepti had to leave. "We had a very difficult time at the whole dating thing," Rabin said, looking back. "I had a pretty debilitating drug addiction."

Rabin said he's been sober since the day she left in 2003. Three years went by before a chance encounter brought them face-to-face again. The couple wed last February.

Rabin describes the driving force that prompted him to start engagement ring shopping as "a spiritual experience of the educational variety."

"'Whatever the difficulties are, eventually if I don't take this step, she'll just leave,' " he recalled. "It wasn't a big thunderous sense of love that got me. It was more like: 'I know I love this woman, she is my equal, and it's time.' "

Chris Parks liked sound of 'us'

"I always knew that I wanted to spend my life with Melanie. Once we got really serious, I knew we were a good team," said Chris Parks, 28. "I wanted to make that serious commitment, and I wanted her to make that commitment to me."

The two met at CNN. A year later, they moved in together and started talking about buying a house. Marriage was an eventuality, but the couple was in no rush. Then came "The Talk." But not some heart-to-heart ultimatum. In fact, it was a series of talks that flipped the switch for Chris.

"There were a couple of times where we went to dinner, just sitting there, talking to her, just the way we were conversing with one another, and we were talking about our futures: 'I want to do this with our lives, or that with our lives. Can you picture us when we have a house, kids, a dog?' That really resonated with me. She wasn't just thinking about herself. She was thinking about us," Chris said.

"I liked the thought of that. What am I really waiting for?" he reflected. "I felt like I was a part of something."

By Alex Wellen

Editor's note: Alex Wellen's debut novel, "Lovesick," follows a young man on his quest to get married and defeat a crime ring of geriatric gangsters. Wellen is an award-winning producer for CNN and all around good guy. You'll often read Alex Wellen's articles covering politics for CNN on the Larry King Live blog. For this article, he interviewed men on how they approached marriage.

Calling all couples: When did the light bulb go off in your head? Send your pictures and video to iReport.com.

Then submit your story to the "Lovesick" Survival Kit giveaway on Facebook.

Filed under: Larry King Live


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Lucie, Riverdale, GA   July 8th, 2009 2:08 pm ET

Jesus Christ was the greatest thing that ever walked this earth! Michael Jackson the second!

The world has truly lost a treasure, only to be found by the angels. I know they (the angels) will take good care of him.

Although I must say that after watching the memorial service, I will never be the same again. May God uplift the family at this time.


H. Pete Draper   July 8th, 2009 2:19 pm ET

Mr. King,
My name is H. Pete Draper from Bloomfield Hills, Mi

First I want to thank you and the entire CNN family for a outstanding job on the M.J. coverage. SUPER SUPER. I also want to say NO NO to the seconde promised of more money more jobs. The Goverment can stop B/S the people of the US. I have been unemployed since September of 2008. With a Masters In Manufacturing I track the number of new jobs coming into michigan since the last package -0- The goverment stated that the 3 millions jobs would be right away some one should asked each state how many people have they put to work. since receiving money. I will bet the number is less than 1000.


Patricia De Terville   July 8th, 2009 6:11 pm ET

I have seen Michael Jackson but never met him personally. I have always loved Michael the man before Michael the artist. To me he was a gentle man who had a deep love for others. I remember reading about Michael giving to the then charity Camp Good Times supporting children with terminal illness and the burns unit at a hospital and have oftern wondered why these aspects of his life was never mentiond by the general media ,and came to the conclusion that that was not sensational enough and would not sell papers.
I will always be inspired by the memory of this sincere man and great artist whom I have not stopped thinking about since his death. The greatest legacy one can ever leave behind as they slip ffrom this life is the gift of love demonstrated. My deepest sympathy to his family, especially his children. Every once in a while God gives to us an extraordinanary human being who touches the lives of others in an extraordinay way. That was Michael Jackson.


Patricia De Terville   July 8th, 2009 6:20 pm ET

Every once in a while God gives to us an extraordinanary human being who touches the lives of others in an extraordinay way inspires . That was Michael Jackson. My prayers are for the children he has left behind.

PS My favourite Michael Jackson song: With a child's heart. A fitting song for him


Dave Youkers   July 8th, 2009 6:38 pm ET

I'm sorry but I've had enough of Michael Jackson. Great singer, love his music, but of all the things going on in today's world it time to leave it along. MIchael Jackson is dead.


Lynda Ross   July 8th, 2009 6:47 pm ET

First of all may God be with us all mouning the death of MJ. I grew up litterally with MJ and feel as I lost a brother.
As a nurse for 21 years, I have witnessed more Dr. and nurse related deaths caused by them then you could possibly imagine. I have also witnessed myself reporting such straight to the top if needed and the facilities all the way to the owners not doing a thing about it. This is why I left the medical profession and decided to work for the FDA feeling I can help in that aspect.
Not only are theses Drs. to be held accountable but also the nurse that was aware of this illegal medication he was receiving. She had a obligation as a nurse to report this to the proper authorities as well as his family.
The stories about MJ not wanting help with his addiction and alienating himself from people who wanted to help is sad!
Anyone knows you can go to court and get a medical power of attorney to provide the help he needed even if he refused! There seems to be alot of people "loving " him so much but no one loved him enough to intervien and save his life. It seems it would have been easy to prove him medically incompetent from what I am hearing.
The bottom line is there was no excuse for someone who loved him NOT to help him and I'm happy I am not the one who has to live with this burden. I hope God and MJ will forgive them. I also know all these people who knew about this drug and got it for him and gave it to him certainly need to be held accountable by all means for his untimely and unnecessary death!


evan   July 8th, 2009 7:17 pm ET

men do not like to share like women do & smtimes they can be a little selfish...but when they/we/ fall deeply in love, that's it,,they're hooked & cooked....


Patricia   July 8th, 2009 9:14 pm ET

Larry,
Out of curousity, I would like to know why Michael's fingers were often taped? I have seen it often in interviews. as well as other taped moments.


Mouadi said   July 8th, 2009 9:49 pm ET

why you and other media trying to find something wrong so you can build a bigger story, why not just celebrate the singer and his music. you just love talking about a bad story, not a good one.


rick   July 8th, 2009 10:07 pm ET

has the family heard from Oprah ?...


Julie   July 9th, 2009 1:14 am ET

Dear Larry,
Thank you for your sensitivity towards the Micheal Jackson story. You portrayed him not as a "God" but as a human being. He gave the world so much but so much was taken away from him. I am in no position to say whether he was innocent of the charges made against him but as an American citizen who truly believes that our justice system though imperfect is the best in the world; I have to believe in the jury that found him innocent. The accusations of him wanting to be a white man were also unfounded. How many people (white,black, and asian) have cosmetic surgery everyday? Thank you for giving an unbiased opinion on your show. What I love about Micheal is also I see in you... you don't seem to see a person's skin color, religion, or culture as an enemy... you seem to genuinely care for all people.


Stephen A. Carey   July 9th, 2009 3:42 am ET

Larry, It was shocking to know that he is really gone, and that the Jackson family is taking it hard at this time. And that the kids loved there father very very much. There is one thing that i can say about the Jackson family is that the father and the mother raised a good son, and the brothers and the sisters had a caring and loving brother.
We all know that he was a Icon and that everyone looked up to him, even tho he had some bad times in his life. But yet he got through those bad times, and started looking forward to what he loved to do working on stage. We will know that Michael Jackson will live for ever in our hearts. As usher sang gone too soon that is ever so evident today. Best wishes to the Jackson family my prayers and wishes are with them.


Lacy   July 9th, 2009 10:51 am ET

I love MJ as much as the next person, but please, can we restrict our comments to the article? It was interesting and worthy of discussion.


Marianne Morissette   July 9th, 2009 11:28 am ET

I wish everyone would leave MJ to RIP, & back off from being pessimistic about Paris Jackson. People please put judgments aside, that's not your job, but that of the courts. I'm a R.N.; I learned in graduate school that it's healthy for children to express themselves, & participate in memorials, especially for family. Regardless of Michael's challenges, it's obvious that these children were very much loved & cared for; the Jackson clan has embraced & demonstrated this love at the memorial, this is something to be admired, to love & find thanksgiving among devastating circumstances.
Marianne, San Diego, Ca


Benneth Williamd TCI   July 9th, 2009 11:42 am ET

Michael said "leave me alone" along time ago, I think we should.


valerie   July 9th, 2009 3:01 pm ET

Amen to that Benneth, Now in response to the topic as to do men really want to get married? I'm obviously not a man as you can tell by my name, but I do however think that I know men pretty well, being that I've been married to one and a great one for that for over 25 years, however I must say that he is not the norm. I believe that most men think that they want to be married so that they'll have a constant sex partner, but once they get married they soon realize that one is not enough. It's an ego thing. See how many women you can capture, not thinking about the many lives they're destroying.


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