Thursday, June 17, 2010

I Do's Declared {marriage counseling for NEWSWEEK}

Wed-nesday (I know, a stretch..) found me thinking a lot about marriage....

I started yesterday writing a reference for Marriott Ranch, the B&B where my wedding reception was held, for a bride considering it for her own celebration.  I discovered a clever blog, Gwin in Love, all about love and marriage and {gasp!} having sex with one's husband.  I chatted up with a new blog friend, Whitney, about not having been a child bride, and then found myself reading this article, I Don't,  from Newsweek. In this report, two women who are "educated, young, urban professionals, committed to our careers, friendships, and, yes, our relationships"....BUT who have never even experienced actually being married proceed to give marriage the finger. And not the ring one...

I sometimes think articles like this one were written just to see if educated, young, suburban wives, professional or otherwise, get their aprons all in a wad. Well...I did.

I feel that before I continue I need to offer all sorts of disclaimers (because I'm not at all a confrontational person, and getting this sassy about something makes me a tad uncomfortable):
  • I used to work as a reporter, so I believe in free speech - it's clearly fine that an article such as this was written
  • I used to work as a reporter, so I believe in credible reporting - had a divorced or widowed person made these opinionated anti-marriage claims, I could easily just disagree without getting all bent out of shape (Would Newsweek let a film critic write a review for a movie without ever having viewed it??)
  • I actually think the women who wrote this are good writers, and a click to their bios suggests other people way more accomplished than I agree - I just think they should save their very pointed wordsmithing for what they know first-hand
  • I don't think that married people are better, more happy, more holy or more whole in any way than non-married people - I was single til I was 32, and can write a long list of perks that singledom holds
The article, however, is not at all pro-single. I appreciate, even still, articles that celebrate being single because I believe emphatically - from many years of adult experience - that one doesn't need a husband or wife to be happy or secure or have a child or own a house - all reasons why this article suggests marriage is now obsolete.

One could also argue, in the same vein as this report, which suggests that men take a bride mostly to have a cleaner home, that because housekeepers are not just for the rich and famous anymore, bachelorhood should follow every man to his grave. Gentleman, save that two months' salary you'd spend on a diamond, and just hire a maid.

My initial, and admittedly catty, thoughts about this article include:
  • Why TWO writers for an article that sort of damns partnership? Wouldn't the argument be stronger if say, just one woman did all the work for the report on her own...independently?
  • The "chic"-ness Sex and the City brought to being single is cited as a reason why marriage doesn't make sense - yet all but one of the girls (and Stanford and Anthony) end up married.
But I have larger laments which go beyond the fact that, at my core, I am a generally conservative person. I still believe - to an extent - in traditional roles for husbands and wives.  I do most of the cooking.  Mr. W takes out the garbage. That's not to say that he doesn't ever roll into the kitchen, or I, with the trash can, to the curb. It's just what works for us. But marriage - as I can attest with even just 9 months experience- is more than who does what chores and contributes the most to the joint account. The writers, if they had ever even been married, would know that.

Because they claim to be secular, the writers should not need to be be reminded that people are fighting for the right to be married. Tell the same-sex couples who lobby daily for the right to be legally wed that marriage is simply "no longer necessary". 

Because nothing sets feminism back more than women mocking other women, I also took great offense to this:

"In the workplace, meanwhile, women who use their partner’s name are regarded as less intelligent, less competent, less ambitious, and thus less likely to be hired."

Mrs. W here wants to know then, what does that say about men who take on their wives last names? What does it say about women who married these "less intelligent" men?

This article does nothing but spew, with what seems to be a hint of bitterness, statistics that should have the execs over at eHarmony fearing for their livlihood. Statistics can be convincing when trying to sell a point, but as most of us know, for every study you have in favor of an issue, there's a study (or two) that debunks it. I think my friend Annie Laurie will be exploring that angle against this article pretty soon...

I can -and I do- appreciate the fact that now more than ever, women can take perfectly good care of ourselves, with or without a mate. But in spite of all the bras we burned, have woman now lost the right to shop, without judgement, for lingerie to {gasp again!} please our husbands just because some sociologist dismisses matrimony...and we can afford to pay, without someone's second income, our Victoria's Secret credit card bill?

So yes, I do disagree with nearly every sentiment of I Don't other than the line that said "Happily ever after doesn’t have to include “I do".  But happily ever after can include "I Do" -  and I think that is what the writers might fear most of all, and why I was most bothered (and amused) when they offered this:

"Before we get into specifics, a caveat: check with us again in five years. We’re in our late 20s and early 30s, right around the time when biological clocks start ticking and whispers of “Why don’t you just settle down?” get louder. (We’re looking at you, Lori Gottlieb.) So just as NEWSWEEK will never live down its (false) prediction that 40-year-old single women were more likely to be “killed by a terrorist” than to marry, we permit you, friends and readers, to mock us at our own weddings (should they happen)."

Way to leave, wide-open, a nice loophole...right along with the story's credibility.


Rhianna Hoke said...

I am currently not married, however I agree with you. To say that one shouldnt is crazy! Maybe its the south in me but as happy as I am single I know that marriage can make you equally if not more happy! So AMEN to you for standing up and saying YES we can do it alone BUT we can do it married and still not lose our identity!

Carrie C said...

It is so funny that you posted this. I looked up the article after you joked yesterday that maybe I shouldn't let Scott see it. I thought it was well writted but not anywhere near as moving as this one:

It's written by a man on why marriage isn't dead. While he agrees that marriage isn't neccessary to have a healthy relationship he says this "Doing what you don’t have to do is always more meaningful than doing what’s necessary." I love that line.

He also goes one to say that the writers of the article you mention are really critizing bad relationships more than marriage. He says that all the bad things you can find in marriage happen outside of marriage-but in those cases ppl just break up instead of getting divorced.

Whitney and the Preppy Puppy said...

What an awesome post! I'm off to check out the article. Well, after I recover from the part you posted about the author's saying women should keep their names. Guess I'm just old fashioned. :-)

VA Gal said...

Hi! I just found your blog, but really like this post. I suspect that article would make my blood boil. I still need a moment to recover from the part about women who take their partners' names being perceived as less intelligent. I know quite a few very good female attorneys, and these ladies have almost all taken their husbands' last names. I don't think it diminished their capacity one bit.

Kitchen Belleicious said...

You go girl. I am right there with you!Hello- sometimes i feel like we are talking to a brick wall! LOL! Great post!

Kate said...

ahahahaha! loving this post! good grief-a-mighty....some folks is just plain crazy! and of course they left themselves a loophole. of course. xoxo

AnnieLaurie said...

Im still calming down in order to be objective. Your primary point being that the writers pontificate about a very serious topic of which they have ZERO first hand knowledge is what burns me most. Good rebuttal, too bad posts like this dont get the same "air time"...

idiojanic said...

i surely do love it when a southern gal gets riled up - and rightly so - and then blogs about it. I love to read your thoughts, your logic, and your insight! Thanks so much, and just wanted to say I'm a fan...


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