Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Marriage, Schmarriage

Fifty-one percent of women are now living single, which means for the first time more American women are living without a hubby than with one, the New York Times reports today. (I'm saying "hubby" because there's no mention of whether "spouse" includes gay women as well.) Granted, that statistic could be due to a number of factors, including longer lifespans across the board, but I was excited to read this article nonetheless -- maybe because it helps me justify my decision to remain unmarried so far.

I have mixed feelings about the census findings, though. On the one hand, I'm glad women have choices these days. We have our own money, our own interests, and our own lives, and we don't have to depend on a man to put a roof over our heads and spending money in our pockets. But on the other hand, if singlehood is the wave of the future, does marriage mean much anymore to America as a whole? To certain individuals (I'm looking at you, Christian right), marriage will always be a sacred space where sex can be had and where women can bow their heads in deference to the men making all the important decisions and everyone can feel just peachy about getting up on their high horses and telling others how to live. I grew up in a conservative Christian church, people, I can make these statements.

But what about people who don't feel as strongly as conservatives? What does marriage mean to the average 18-to-35-year old? To popular culture? I think young people still romanticize marriage (even Time's awesome/scary article about Twixters a few years ago reports that most youngsters are looking for their soulmate), and I think most people expect to get married someday. But as we reach marryin' age, I think the concept starts looking a whole lot less appealing than it did when we were, say, five years old and playing princess and/or warriors with our dolls and/or action figures.

Who in popular culture exemplifies a sexy, equal, intelligent, quality marriage that works? Let's see, there's....

1. The Fat Husband/Hot Wife Union (According to Jim, King of Queens, etc., etc., etc.)

You, too, ladies, can be married to a fat, lazy, argumentative husband whose league you're WAY out of!

2. Sex and the City-fied Nuptials (Charlotte and Trey, Charlotte and Harry, Miranda and Steve)

Get in line, girls, to marry a sexually frigid mama's boy! Or a bald lawyer with hygiene issues! Or a manchild bartender with a really thick Brooklyn accent!

3. Life-Commitments of the Rich and Famous (The Real Housewives of Orange County, Trump and Melania, etc.)

Step right up, gentlemen, to grab your trophy wife! She'll look like she was cryogenically frozen circa 1991 and spend all your money!

4. A Match Made in Music (Kelis and Nas, J.Lo and Marc Anthony, etc.)

I love me some "Milkshake" as much as the next girl, but I wouldn't bet the farm on these marriages lasting. Do you disagree? I thought not.

5. Dear God, Kill Me NOW Married Life (Everybody Loves Raymond, 'Til Death)

Does an episode exist where someone's not either rolling his/her eyes, emitting bodily functions, or fighting with in-laws? I'll pass, thanks.

6. Friend-ly Weddings (Monica and Chandler, maybe Rachel and Ross)

I think we all know that the Mo-and-Chan plot line was more about the writers running out of ideas than anything else. Ditto for the Rachel-and-Ross wrapup.

7. Reality Vows (Newlyweds, Meet the Barkers, 'Til Death Do Us Part, Chaotic, Being Bobby Brown)

Um, yeeeaaaah. Enough said. (Actually, Carmen Electra and Dave Navarro had me fooled. I genuinely thought they were in love, and I was genuinely surprised when they broke up so quickly. I think that means that I am a sucker. An MTV sucker, no less.)

If you want my true opinion on the decline of marriage, though, I find myself agreeing most with this awesomely crotchety guy who posted his thoughts about the article on the Times's website. Here's my favorite snippet ([sic] throughout, natch):

[T]he “me generation” has no room for relationships, companionship, sharing, or compromise that coudl lead to bonding… its “my way or the highway”……this hardly promotes pairing and genuine bonding between the opposite sexes. both sexes are equally selfish.

All pervasive media/entertainment industries magnifys these negative characteristics and in fact fosters them as its so easy to be the ultimate in self-centeredness by sitting in front of a screen and visiting websites that agree totally with your point of view and reinforce compeltely your beliefs and ideas in a closed loop.

Surprise surprise surprise…..self centered and self focused people want to live alone and agree with themselves all the time !!!!!!!

You said it, Ray Capowich. Now where's my pillow, chick-rock music, and copy of The Feminine Mystique so I can zone out alone before sleeping solo in my bed?

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Blogger Pinky Rocko said...

Marriage is not what it is supposed to be anymore and the census reflects that arguably sad statistic. Personally, it's a good thing that the idea of marriage is changing instead of this conservative, stagnant institution that has been demoralized and demeaned by our obsession with celebrity marriages. No one can make a coherent, logical argument about relationship anymore without relating it to a popular celebrity. As with anything in this seemingly healthy democracy, it is open to debate and discussion so lets hope that this makes people question their decision to get married, or not.

2:06 AM  
Blogger Dr. Blogstein said...

Hollywood has ruined the idea of marriage when they began to depict it accurately.

Who in their right mind would have believed that Ricky would stay faithful to Lucy? Holy crap that chick was ANNOYING and such a pain in the ass.

They got a little better with All in the Family. Archie was not going to put up with Edith's "ding-battiness"

But today, they do marriage right. King of Queens--not matter how hot you are, if you want someone to love you and stay faithful, it’s gonna be the big fat funny man. And Raymond--That relationship seems about right on both sides. You have to deal with a slightly bitchy wife, in return, she has to deal with your parents. Marriage is a give and take and take and take and finally Hollywood is catching up!

10:56 AM  
Blogger Melissa said...

Believe it or not, I wrote about marriage yesterday on my blog and I express quite similar thoughts. Read it here because it's way easier than me retyping that crap out again!

11:56 AM  

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