I stumbled across this article today on TheSoko.com. I realize now that this post will be SUPER long if I post the original article, plus my response to it. So I've linked hers and typed out my response. I sent this response to her and hope she replies. Even if she doesn't, I hope I got her to start thinking.
I totally see where you're coming from, Miss Pappin. I understand that the marriage stereotypes are overwhelming, especially to those without the piece of paper and stressful wedding day memories. Weddings are expensive, time-consuming, and cause fights you wouldn't otherwise have among family members. And marriage is hard work - why WOULDN'T an independent girl who can take care of herself and her cat just fine, thankyouverymuch, want to keep her freedom, sanity and prerogatives intact? Why would she want to be accountable to ANYONE when she could have and do everything her way, all the time?
Have you ever stopped to think that maybe marriage is not about putting up with the morning breath, money disagreements and cleaning the pool? Maybe it’s about character-building. Maybe it’s NOT about who makes you “the happiest.” Maybe it’s about who helps you develop into a more giving, compassionate person, as you grow old with that person you love?
Have you ever thought that maybe the divorce rate isn’t so high because people are unhappy and chose the wrong partner, but that THEY have given up on BEING a good partner and expect too much of their spouse? What is marriage if it does not require commitment, hard work and unconditional love? Is it supposed to be the fairy tale ending, like Cinderella? There’s a reason you never see the sequel to Cinderella, Snow White or Sleeping Beauty: once the honeymoon is over, it’s back to real life. And real life is hard. Prince Charming scratches himself, leaves his socks lying around and shavings in the sink. Cinderella is anal retentive and turns into a screaming banshee 4 days out of the month! When two imperfect people join together in a public ceremony declaring their love and commitment to one another, they should EXPECT that their lives won’t merge with ultimate ease.
Women and men are often thought of as two different species (Mars vs. Venus, Waffles vs. Spaghetti, etc. etc.). Try, then, to make the marriage between an antelope and an elephant work efficiently and without major issues. Sure, they can co-exist peacefully. But they both have different enemies, different likes and dislikes, different routines, needs and desires. How could you not expect them to have issues when trying to maintain a relationship? No, the divorce rate is not reflective of the amount of unhappy people choosing the wrong partner. It reflects the amount of people unwilling to fulfill their OWN vows, who, in “good times and in bad,” refuse to stand by their man/woman and stand up for the family unit they created when they joined in holy matrimony. If that doesn’t show poor character, I don’t know what does (all this barring, of course, serious and safety-related issues for breaking up a marriage: physical, emotional, mental or sexual abuse of a spouse or child). The stats you quote from the book “Adultery: The Forgivable Sin,” seem awfully high. It makes me wonder how each of those 80% of marriages that suffered through an affair got to such a low point that one partner sought validation, sexually or otherwise, outside his or her home. Adultery is not the problem. Disintegrating marriages and lack of commitment ARE. Adultery is merely a symptom of a bigger problem in a relationship.
“The urge to stay single” should mean just that – staying single. Not living together without being married. Not “hooking up” or having “friends with benefits.” Because then, no matter what anyone says, a woman in that position is not liberated. She is being used. There is no commitment there to prove any man’s intention of sticking around. And at that point, the independence a “single” girl like that has worked so hard to maintain is seemingly lost, since she is now merely a “provider of services” and, at best, a live-in (and unpaid) housekeeper.
The fact that couples relate to sitcoms and movies that project this stereotype is a sad state of affairs. Just because the wife on “King of Queens” or “According to Jim” treats her husband like an idiot does NOT mean marriage is that way. In fact, it just gives women the opportunity of a lifetime to blow the stereotype out of the water! Let a man experience a woman who genuinely smiles when he comes home, respects his opinion and – gasp! – his FEELINGS. I’d like to see that man show up at the water cooler the next day with something to complain about. I bet he’d be gloating about the satisfaction he receives from the loving woman he chose as his bride some 10 or even 20 or 30 years ago. And in turn, as an automatic byproduct, I’d be willing to bet that she receives a bouquet of tulips “for no reason,” a love note on her mirror or a foot rub while they watch a DVD. Acting lovingly toward our men proves to them that they’ve made the best choice in the world to marry the woman they did – and it sure makes it easier for them to forgive our crabby, or “bitchy,” as you say, days of the month.
I absolutely respect your decision to remain single, Miss Pappin. For a long time, I thought I would stay that way, too. But please keep in mind that marriage is not just “visions of white gowns, flowers and a tall, dark and handsome husband” and “a dog, cat, pool, mortgage and complaints.” It is a decision made by mature adults who are willing to move forward with an attitude of mutual service toward one another and their children. It is a decision to consider everyone around you better than themselves and worthy of working your hardest to love them and provide them with a relationship based on ultimate trust and grace.
You truly are missing out.