This post is in response to articles I read for a class that I'm taking. I have linked the articles mentioned.
When I read the articles for class, I couldn’t help but examine my own beliefs and thoughts about marriage. Before I discuss the readings, I will first state several of my beliefs. First and foremost, I believe marriage is a conscious decision made by two individuals. It is a decision that should not be based solely on “love.” It is a financial decision as well as a decision about motherhood/fatherhood. I believe marriage is not necessarily for everyone and should not be believed to last forever. With that being said, I do agree with statistics that indicate that the more educated a person is and the older a person is when he/she marries, the more likely he/she will remain married to the same person for many years and will probably never go through a divorce. Marriage is about sharing and communicating with your spouse. I think a lack of communication between partners is more likely to be the root of a problem than whether or not your husband does his share of the laundry or childcare. I also don’t see marriage as an institution dependent upon submission. It’s about mutual responsibility.
I agree with some of the assertions made by Melissa Harris-Lacewell in her article “Reflections on Marriage.” Marriage is definitely an institution drenched in “a troubling cultural mythology,” but it is not static. As Harris-Lacewell suggests, it can and needs to change. Judy Syfers piece, “Why I Want a Wife,” not only made me think of a similar sarcastic piece, but it also brings to light several of the assumptions many people had (and currently have) about what it means to be married. Several of the duties Syfers lists, like being cognziant of one’s spouse’s sexual needs, are still relevant today. A couple that does not discuss both partners’ needs will probably cause angst. In “Once Political, Now Just Practical,” Sara Saraohn criticizes Syfers work for being reductionistic. Personally, I think Syfers use of humor (satire particularly) is perfectly acceptable since it makes sense to be reductionist about an issue that essentializes and reduces the roles of men and women within a marriage.
I enjoyed Meghan O’Rourke’s stance on romantic love in “Has Marriage Become the Sacred Cow of Feminism?.” I agree with O’Rourke when she argues that our society’s notion of marriage is rooted in our ideas about romantic love. The media tells kids that men and women are different and have different goals in life. The media, especially Disney movies, tell young children that romantic love and marriage are idealistic images. It assumes and reinforces the notion that women want Prince Charming to rescue them from their neglectful and perhaps evil families. Lastly, the article “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off” saddened me even though I understood Sandra Loh’s predicament. This article saddened me mostly because Loh refused to acknowledge that even though many people reject marriage, it doesn’t mean that these people don’t need people. I am proud that Loh takes a stance on what she believes, but I would’ve liked her to acknowledge that even though her own needs, which include having a companion, being comforted by another person, etc. will be sidelined until her children are out of school.
In class, Sarah Schuetez mentioned that marriage is an institution that reinforces other institutions, like religion, and I completely agree with this. This is probably one reason why divorce rates in the U.S. are as high as they are. I also think that many people don’t discuss what it means to be married with others. For example, my parents never talked to me about decisions they made (financial, educational or otherwise) that affected the family and their marriage. The trip to the alter is what many people think about or focus on, not what to do when there is an unexpected pregnancy. Today, I find out more about my marriage and my friends’ marriages because we initiate conversation. If I want to know at what point should my husband and I have life insurance, I’ll talk to my peers and find out what they did and hopefully learn from them. As society changes and progresses, hopefully more people will be able to openly talk about the complexities of marriage.