Ah marriage, is there anything sweeter? Brides in flowing white gowns, big shiny engagement rings dropping from slender fingers, $50,000 shelled out for food and wine and folding chairs and plastic tents? And, well, you know…sex with the same person for the rest of your life, or until you get divorced.
What I was left thinking about, after reading Rebecca's article, was how did we get here? How did we get to the point where we (I'm generalizing about women now, please forgive me) expect to get married and live happily ever after? I mean, that's obviously the expectation of Ms. Laura Doyle, the "Surrendered Wife," and her solution (when her marriage didn't quite provide her with the Disney-like fulfillment she expected), and advice to you if you happen to find yourself similarly disillusioned, is to give up. Give up, surrender to your husband, and you'll be happy ever after. (My favorite gem mentioned in the piece: to let one's husband continue to drive down the freeway past the appropriate exit. This indeed is the key to domestic bliss…)
So when did this happen? When did marriage go from necessity to something everlasting based on true love? I've grown up thinking of the marriage as the latter. And I know a lot of women who view it the same way. How did we get here? Or least, how did I get here?
1970's – I'm sure something happened here to influence me, but the only Disney movies I remember watching were "The Rescuers" and "The Fox and the Hound." Lessons learned: many, none related to marriage.
1980's – The damage decade. I read Gone With the Wind and Pride and Prejudice, in addition to many many other books. Lessons learned: You may not like him at first, but he'll be in love with you. Eventually you'll realize you're in love with him. You'll marry and live happily ever after. (Ok, I know this didn't happen in GWtW, but really, we all know Rhett came walking back through that door the next morning.)
1990's – I read more 18th century happily-ever-after crap. After successive failures with boyfriends, it occurs to me that maybe this isn't how it happens in real life after all.
2000's – Marriage? I've got a career now.
So what's a modern woman to do? With such expectations as "marriage is the key to happiness," one's sure to be disappointed. With the ability to own land and vote, as well as work and make money, does one need a husband? Is marriage, "the most sensible, practical way of living in the world that has thus far been devised," as Rebecca writes?
I kind of like my mom's way of doing it: be married, but take off every five years and spend two months in your own apartment in Paris. Have your husband come visit.