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Archive for June, 2012

I hadn’t heard of it, but there is a play running in Washington D.C. called, “Bachelorette.” Eve Tushnet reviews it briefly here.  In the play, four overprivileged young women, as Tushnet describes them, are together the night before one of them gets married.

Marriage, for these women, is the gold ring (appropriate, hmmm?) they are all trying desperately to grasp.  It has everything to do with their goals for status and nothing to do with relationship. Tushnet describes it like this:

What the girls are really gluttonous for–their idol, what they want to consume, to possess, more than they want loyalty or friendship or happiness–is marriage.

This is marriage conceived purely as a status marker. It’s the final sign that you’ve arrived: a more consoling source of self-worth than your looks, or a good job. Marriage is a scarce good, not a default life path.

Picture the Jersey wives or the Kardashians or even a Bridezilla.  Bottom line: It’s all about them.

So, let’s test ourselves.  When you think about marriage, what do you picture?  There may be an initial mental image of a beautiful wedding, and then where do your thoughts go? How do you see yourself, and your future spouse when you picture marriage?  Take five minutes and just scratch out some of the images you see or ideas that come to mind.

Share with us what you see or imagine if you want to.  We’ll talk more about this tomorrow.

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We camped with family over the weekend and it was so good to get away.

Such a welcome change of pace.  There’s nothing like a complete change of scenery, outside-the-routine activities, and the faces of people you enjoy but don’t get to see very often, for refreshing the spirit.

Highlights

  • Watching my husband sacrifice his body to snag a fast-moving grounder in the camp softball game. My hero!
  • Seeing cousins of various ages together learning the 80s art of hackysacking.
  • Eating al fresco. Does everything taste better outdoors?
  • Chatting history and books with a retired teacher from Texas camping with her husband and grandkids.
  • Seeing kids whiz around the campground loop on bikes and scooters and skateboards.
  • Observing the evening activities of other camping families through the glow of lantern and campfire.

Feeling dull and humdrum? Grab a friend and get out of town! I would love to see your highlight list.

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It’s okay to admit to yourself that you want to marry.  It’s even okay to say it. Out loud. To others.

When you say it to people, I encourage you to pause and let the statement just be. Stifle the urge to explain or equivocate.  Let the person react, and know that this could be a little bit uncomfortable for both of you.  There is a myriad of possible responses but if someone responds negatively I would suggest that you deflect their words with a simply-worded response like, “I think marriage is a good thing and it’s been the desire of my heart for awhile now.”  Then, change the subject, or find a reason to leave the conversation.

There are at least two very good reasons to go ahead and say it. First, the good of stating any goal out loud is that it is more likely to become a part of who you are and something you work toward.

Second, it will be helpful for your friends and even acquaintances to know that marriage is a goal for you. Most people still meet their future spouse through friends or family members, so they can be a conduit for meeting husband material.  If your friends are negative about marriage, they should at least respect your hopes. If they don’t, you might consider finding some friends who will encourage you.

A third and fourth reason.  Your statement will encourage any friends who are like-minded but afraid to admit it, to be as strong as you are. And, you will stand out in the crowd to any man among your friends who would also like to marry.  Good men will admire your forthrightness, and the players will know not to mess with you.

Note: And now, as you’re thinking of a player you’re attracted to, and wish that he would change, stop it! Stop thinking about him!  The best way you can encourage a player to change is not to play his game. He is terrible husband material and, as the well-known book (He’s Just Not That Into You) says, think of yourself as the rule and not the exception–you’re not going to change him by dating him.

Back to the subject at hand. It’s a position of strength to know what you want and be able to say it out loud.  And with the long-term goal of marriage in mind, it should help you that your friends and family know that it’s your goal.

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Two of my greatest frustrations while single were things I could not change.

I could not change:

  1. A culture that urged young men to pattern their lives after the beer commercials that told them to live for the game on Saturday, a good buzz to carry them euphorically through the game, and willing women with large breasts to celebrate with them and,
  2. The willing women who traded their self-respect and their bodies for game day popularity. Of course this behavior comes with all sorts of hobbies, not just team sports.

It frustrated me because men who behave like this–indulging self-centeredly in their favorite things and taking advantage of the women who let them–are not ready for marriage. And, the willing women in their lives helped perpetuate the overgrown adolescent behavior of the men. By the time these men would be ready for marriage (a woman like me), they were likely to have regrets, maybe a child or two, and to have been through a divorce.  THEN they would be ready for marriage.

THEN they would be ready for marriage?!  With every passing year I felt the odds of marrying a man without this kind of baggage stacked ever higher against me and the woman like me.

Randall B. Smith writes about this in his article “Courtship, Etiquette, and the Adolescent Male.”

Nothing aggravates the young women I meet more than the fact that the young men in their lives don’t know how to date.  “What do they do?” I ask.  “They play lots of video games,” is a standard answer.  Or they watch a lot of sports.  Or they go to the bar and look for a hook-up if “the mood” strikes.

Smith finds that feminism helped engineer the overgrown adolescent male by demanding change to the “old-fashioned etiquette” that taught young men how to treat women. Smith also recognizes that these changes put women who desire marriage in a tough spot due to the behavior of their peers.

It’s harder now to claim that what young women are looking for is marriage – they’re not really allowed to say that out loud or even admit it to themselves – but what they do tend to be looking for is stability, commitment, and the kind of benefits that come from stability and commitment: a person one can depend on; a person who shows up when he says he will; a person who will be kind and gentle and thoughtful, but not whiny and full of complaints and excuses.  In short, they want a man, not a boy.

and

Unfortunately for such foolish young men, there are still foolish young women around who will indulge them as playmates or surrogate mothers and thereby risk ensnaring both in an unhappy marriage.  Such foolish young women are the second most frequent cause of aggravation among the sensible young women I know – right behind the immaturity of boys.  (“How could he be so stupid as to be attracted to her?”)

The conclusion to which I always had to return was to stay on the same path I had been on. Compromising my own standards to get attention, a date or a boyfriend was not a path toward successful marriage. So, surrounded by friends who shared the same standards–including Jones, I walked down the path determined show respect for myself and others, and trusted that there were more single men than I knew of doing the same thing.

Smith concludes similarly, and encourages parents to teach this kind of respect.

Perhaps, then, it was this potential for foolishness among young women to indulge the silly adolescent fancies of young men that brought about those other “old-fashioned” set of rules of etiquette: the ones that applied not to adolescent boys, but to adolescent girls; the ones that bid them not to allow themselves to be treated as property; the ones that encouraged them, rather, to demand respect for their dignity and worth.  Those were principles of behavior that used to be instilled in young women by their mothers.

My path was rewarded when I met my future husband.  Neither of us was perfect, but we were ready for each other in part because we knew how to be respectful of ourselves and the opposite sex. I will add that this is also true of most of my girl friends who married later in life–the men they married were worth the wait.

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