I’ll preface this with the full disclosure that I never, ever thought I’d get married. I remember telling my mom that I was NOT going to have a wedding because I was NOT going to get married. Add to this that I absolutely despise wedding stories. There’s this part at the start of The Incredibles where Frozone notes that female superheroes are always trying to disclose their secret identities. They think it makes the relationship stronger. That’s how I feel about wedding stories, you want to strengthen our relationship through the sharing of your special princess day. Spare me. Please. Not only don’t I care, I will revert to the horrifyingly nasty behavior of a 12-year old boy picking his zits at the dinner table.
That said, I got married (cue Miss Sug in The Color Purple, “I’s a married lady now!”). I would say happily because I consider anything that’s not miserable and crying as happy. I think content is happy. I think day to day living is happy. I seriously believe unless I’m feeling mad, depressed, pissed off-angry, evil, or out-and-out sad, that I’m happy. I believe my marriage to be happy. I’ll believe that until the day I have a reason not to believe it. Then I’ll get over it and be happy again. Unless it’s divorce…
Lately there’s been a lot about marriage in the media. Jon and Kate certainly put the spotlight on the idea of marriage. There have been articles in Time and The Atlantic regarding marriage. There are the two sides to the gay marriage controversy. People are wondering if it’s an outdated ritual. Perhaps. However, I’m more likely to think that there’s a paradigm shift happening in marriage right now.
I think there’s this wonderful 20th century mythology built around weddings and marriage. Women have intertwined being a bride not with being the woman of the house, but with being a princess for a day. Damn, when those Cinderella fantasies go wrong… The idea is that they will be whisked away by their prince who will take care of them for their rest of their lives. In my warped world view, why get married? You go from one set of parents to a parent/spouse? WTF? This mythology strongly supports the idea of women as frail, fragile things that need to be taken care of — not equal partners. For once, Hedda Gabler makes complete sense.
Men, I think, feel that they will get Alice (maid; The Brady Bunch) only in a sexier form. Someone whom their friends will call fun, their boss will call pretty, and whom they may call their very own. “He Thinks He’ll Keep Her” alright. His fantasy is that she will never change, never demand, always submit, and make him look good. Who can live up to that? More-so, is he prepared to never change, never demand, and to make the house, home, family look good?
Yet, the interesting thing is that every day people do want to live up to those “expectations”. They do try to be that Prince or Princess for the one they love. I daresay, if marriage is an outdated ritual, why is it the lightning rod issue against gays that it is? It’s precisely because people really do want that other person in their lives. Marriages, like people themselves, are quite varied. Some people do meet their prince or princess, some are natural caretakers/housewives, some go on like they’ve just met — giddy in love, some are arranged, and some are made from brilliant best friends and partners. Everyone wants that someone they feel completes them. They just don’t want them for now, they want them forever.
Marriage, like many other ideas in society, needs to be allowed to evolve. Marriage needs to be able to be what is important to those two people. Let’s be honest, the testimonial is alive and well. People want to be married to show others. What they show can be: we made it, I’m lovable, I met the person of my dreams, I’m happier than I’ve ever been, isn’t he/she beautiful?… People also want the protection of marriage — the commitment.
Honestly, you can say that you don’t want someone who promises to cherish you until death do you part? I thought I didn’t want to be married, but even I wanted to be cherished. I still do.
Maybe it’s not marriage we need to examine, but our willingness to commit long-term to a marriage that’s not always “happily ever after”.