Let me just preface this post by saying that this is NOT a post in favor of “traditional marriage” & against gay/lesbian marriage, in case anyone reads the title, assumes so, & thus decides to forego the rest of what I have to say. I’ve made it quite clear on this blog that I100% support gay/lesbian marriage & have no problem with “alternative” sexualities (homosexuality, transgender, bisexual, etc).
Now that that’s out of the way, I can get to the meat of the subject at hand: marriage. My husband & I just got back from vacationing in Asheville, NC where we celebrated our fourth wedding anniversary. I guess four years really isn’t that much, but when you consider that we were together for almost a decade prior to marriage, I think you can understand why we feel like we’ve been married for a lot longer than “just” four years.
In any case, it’s occurred to me many times in my life, but especially so lately, that modern society has some pretty warped ideas about marriage. Actually, I think that’s probably always been the case. After all, if there’s one thing I resent in life, it’s people who go around proclaiming that the world is “going to hell in a handbasket” & everything is so much worse than it used to be. Not only do I think that’s BS, even if it were true, whining about it isn’t changing a damn thing.
ANYWAY, what I’m trying to say is that I’m not surprised that a number of people of my generation have a lot of qualms about marriage. Between many of us growing up with parents who ended up divorced (or in some cases with parents who probably would have been better off divorced) & the multitude of negative depictions of marriage showcased in the media, it’s really no wonder that some of us have a very skeptical view on marriage.
I’ve read recently that the statistics aren’t as bad as we’ve been told for years now, but consider that the divorce rate in the US is generally accepted to be hovering somewhere around 50%. Then consider that the media (everything from TV shows to commercials to movies) often depicts marriage as a milestone that magically causes women to gain 50 lbs, stop having sex, & become psychotically obsessed with having a perfect house while men become disgusting Neanderthals who can’t be bothered to lift a finger around the house or generally be anything more than overgrown teenagers.
This negative portrayal of marriage in the media is not a new phenomenon. Going back as far as the 1950s, marriage has often been portrayed in less than stellar fashion, usually for the sake of laughs of course. Consider the classic I Love Lucy in which Lucy & Ethel, but especially Lucy, are depicted as incapable of balancing a checkbook & generally in need of a man to watch over their every move, meanwhile Ricky & Fred are buffoons who couldn’t iron a pair of pants or cook a pot of rice to save their lives. Negative jokes about marriage were a regular part of the show’s routine, & I seriously doubt that the average viewer found this unusual or offensive. It was just standard operating procedure. And frankly I don’t think a hell of a lot has changed. For example, a year or so ago I tried to watch a modern TV show (can’t remember the name right now) about which I’d heard a lot of good things. However, I never made it past the first episode in which a recently engaged couple suddenly morphed into these bizarrely different versions of each other. I just couldn’t take it.
I know a lot of people probably think “Oh, it’s all in good fun” but I think such depictions of marriage reveal a more sinister problem. Or at least perpetuate negative stereotypes that, while sometimes reflected in real life, certainly are not inevitable consequences of marriage.
As a side note, it boggles my mind when I hear people say they’re so shocked that a celebrity couple like Miranda Lambert & Blake Shelton are getting divorced. I’m not surprised at all. Hell, I’m a lot more shocked when such celebrity couples DON’T get divorced! Why is it surprising that two people with a lot of money/fame/power who spend a lot of time on the road away from each other would not achieve lifetime marital bliss? Get real, people.
I just finished reading Corey Taylor’s latest book, as I mentioned in last week’s blog post, & I’ve been inspired by his bluntness to be a bit more blunt myself. Now remember I’m not some relationship guru or expert, & I’m under no illusions that I’m Jesus or Buddha or some kind of divine messenger or any such nonsense, so you can take everything I say with a lump of salt. I’m just a 26 year old woman with an opinion & the desire to share it. So you can like it or lump it as far as I’m concerned.
With that disclaimer in mind, allow me to put it this way:
If getting engaged means your partner takes this as a license to become obsessed with every detail of the wedding to the point that you don’t even feel like he/she is the same person anymore . . . you’re doing it wrong.
If getting married means you no longer have sex on a regular basis . . . you’re doing it wrong.
If you’re legitimately surprised that your fiancé proposed to you . . . you’re doing it wrong, & you probably shouldn’t be getting married because if you’ve never even discussed marriage before, you obviously have crappy communication skills.
If getting married means you think you’re entitled to that person’s money for the rest of your life, even if you get divorced . . . you’re doing it wrong. Allow me to go on a short rant here: alimony makes absolutely zero sense to me. The whole idea of having access to another person’s money/time/body/life is dependent on the fact that you’re married to that person. So if you get divorced & are thus no longer married, what makes you think you’re entitled to his/her money anymore? Argh. Feminism takes a step backwards every time a woman accepts an alimony check. To be fair, if a recent divorcee is a stay-at-home mom (or dad), I can see how she might need a year or two to get back on her feet & into the workforce & able to support herself. But there’s got to be a limit on these things. Otherwise, how can we claim to be equal partners in marriage? We can’t have it both ways, ladies.
If marriage means you think you have a free license to gain a ton of weight or generally no longer care about your appearance at all . . . you’re doing it wrong! Here’s another rant: nobody wants to be the a$$hole who says it, but just because you love someone that doesn’t mean you’re going to be sexually attracted to them if they morph into some completely different creature than the person with whom you fell in love & married. You can call me whatever horrible names you like, but I think it’s just part of having self-respect, not to mention respect for your partner, that you continue to keep up your physical appearance no matter how long you’ve been together. Trust me, I’m not saying we all need to traipse around the house in lingerie 24/7 or that every man has to have a 6-pack or he’s failing in life . . . I’m just saying let’s have some common sense & stay attractive, not to mention healthy, for our mates as best we can. End rant.
In conclusion, I understand that not every marriage is going to work out. But I do think a lot of divorces are precipitated by the fact that many couples have less than stellar communication skills, not to mention the fact that many couples rush into marriage for a variety of reasons. And to be perfectly honest I don’t think getting divorced should be viewed as some kind of grand failure in life. It happens. It’s just a part of life like everything else.
Also, let me be clear in saying that I understand there are some couples who are fully committed to each other but have no desire to actually get legally married. And I have no problem with that.
What really bothers me is seeing marriage portrayed as some kind of trap or the “end of the party.” I can’t remember who has said this to me, but more than once in my life I’ve had people ask me how I could possibly get married so young (22, which isn’t even that young in my family/culture) & didn’t I feel like I was missing out on a lot of fun. Aside from the fact that I find such questions incredibly rude, it saddens me that so many people think of marriage as an inevitable damper on life.
Perhaps the best way to sum it up is this: yes, life is hard & even the best relationships aren’t always a cake-walk, but if your marriage doesn’t add to the quality of your life, if it doesn’t make you a better, happier, more fulfilled person . . . you guessed it, you’re doing it wrong!