sarasvati: (angry)
Rei just told me about this Maclean's article, which has information from a new book detailing the true secrets to a happy and long-lasting marriage. As Rei read bits to me, I grew steadily more appalled.

The tag line here? "A lawyer and a therapist make it simple: stay single, ladies—until your 30s—and find great friends."

The article isn't really intended for males, which is the first indicator that this is unfairly balanced. The entire focus is on women to do everything to make a happy marriage. Men getting married? Well piffle, nobody needs to know what men think, or what part they can play in a marriage.

“your twenties shouldn’t be spent finding a man; your twenties should be spent finding yourself.”

Agreed... to a point. But if you find yourself and are comfortable with yourself by the time you're 26, find someone you love and want to marry, why wait 4 years to reach some arbitray number that other people have determined is the right age for you to marry. I have a problem with ages like this. As a great person once said, "You can measure cloth by the yard, and distance by the mile, but you can't lump men together and measure them by any one rule." Also, "some men don't have the sense at sixty that others have at sixteen." Ages are just numbers, and are not good indicators of when a person should or shouldn't do a thing.

They wondered what could be done to better people’s chances of having a successful marriage. “Here’s the key,” they concluded. “Don’t marry young. In fact, don’t get married until you’re 30.” Forget notions of marrying at 25 and pregnant at 28, they write. “Marrying young, before you know yourself and have a solid handle on your life, is a bad idea.”

I agree with the last quote, but disagree that marrying after your 20s are over is the way to go about it. Know yourself, yes. Know what you're bringing to the marriage. Reflect, ponder, decide, give it a load of thought, but what, I ask again, does age have to do with it?

I admit that a lot of people think they know themselves and then suddenly realize one day that they've been wrong all along. But this can happen to anyone at any time. I've read memoirs by women who state quite frankly that they weren't comfortable with themselves until they were middle-aged, or older. Is the next advice fad going to advise against marriage until you're "over the hill," then? Younger people stand a greater chance of being arrogant about their own self-knowledge, and believe me, I'm not disputing that. I personally don't advise that people get married right out of high school. But some people do that, and make it work, because they know enough of themselves, are flexible, and have learned to communicate.

Interestingly, this article does not stress the development of good communication skills. Possibly because that would involve the man doing something...

Spend your twenties investing in new friendships with women, they suggest.

Because women can only ever be good friends with other women, you see. Investing in friendships with men will do nothing for you in the long run. Just ignore them.

“You’re finally moving past the unavoidable high school and college drama into a place of maturity, where you can develop true, solid friendships."

And no friendships you made in high school will ever turn out to be true or solid. Which is why I totally don't live with Rei right now, why I couldn't ever trust him with my secrets, and why we never engage is deep discussions about ourselves and our lives.

Except that we do. And we met in high school. Oh crap, Rei mustn't be a true friend to me after all!

“Like it or not, your husband is not going to be able to tend to each and every one of your emotional needs. It will be disastrous for you to expect him to do so.”

True. But the sentence that appeared before that advises women not to expect their husbands to be their best friends. Why not? If two people are compatible in such a way, what's wrong with having ones husband be their best friend too?

Do people expect that their best friend will tend to each and every one of their emotional needs? I thought modern psychology advised against that anyway. What is it that therapists say a lot now? Something along the lines of not leaning on anyone, depending solely on yourself, not making any ties that you can't break at your convenience.

(I actually read professional advice along those lines only a year or so ago. Makes me wonder if that person had actual friends at all, or just some fairweather acquaintances to drink with on weekends.)

In your twenties, “you have ample time to spend in long, late night conversations with girlfriends.”

This, as we all know, magically changes as soon as you hit your 30th birthday. And applies to everyone in their 20s, too.

Do this, because “it is these friends who will remind you of who you used to be when you find yourself knee-deep in diapers and Disney character lunch boxes.”

In a nutshell, marriage changes who you are, and when you pop out the inevitable children and your life is taken over by them, all you're going to have are your memories. So make as many of them as you can when you're single, because those will be the best years of your life.

[...]if you’re still getting money from your parents, it’s time for that to end, they write.

The article doesn't make it clear whether the book is saying that accepting gifts of money in financial hard times is bad, or whether having your parents pay all your bills is bad. To that, I say that I'm sorry, if I feel comfortable accepting money when I'm broke, I'll do so. And I envy the people who may spend their 20s having their parents pay for everything. That ended for me when I was 15!

If you have eating issues, sort them out before you marry.

No ifs, ands, or buts. Fix all your problems, woman, so that your man doesn't have to be burdened by them!

The book cites a recent study in which 80 per cent of women said their negative body image was ruining their sex life; 67 per cent of men said their wife’s poor body image was a significant source of frustration for them, and had a negative impact on the happiness of their relationship.

From this paragraph, I have learned that a sex life is only applicable in marriage, and that a woman going through some serious crap has a negative impact on the husband. Not the wife. The husband.

Yeah, your partner going through serious issues isn't fun, and it has a negative impact on everyone's happiness. Everyone's. Not just one person. That's like me saying that Rei should just fix his crappy digestive system because it bothers me when he's in pain and angsting because he can't eat anything again.

Again, having never read the book, I don't know if it advises an open discussion of the problems being faced. With the slant on this book being that women should be self-focused and independence, I don't know if it suggests discussing the problem with their partner, or whether it advises the partner to address the issue with the woman. But from the following quote, I'd guess that the emphasis is given on husbands' complaints rather than actual action being taken: He went on, “I’m starting to lose respect for her as a mature adult. She’s acting like a teenager, always worried about how she looks.”

Mature adults never have problems, you see.

The book promises, “If you spend your twenties learning how to be a fabulous, stable, independent, fulfilled single woman, it will naturally follow that you will choose a guy to marry who possesses these same wonderful qualities.”

Is it just me, or is there something fundamentally wrong with saying that two people who are perfectly happy being awesome and single will naturally gravitate to each other and decide to partner and remove their singleness? It didn't cross anyone's mind that people like this may not want to get married, or may not choose men with these qualities? That's like saying that if I spend my 20s learning how to cook and clean and be a perfect 1950s housewife, then I'll choose a guy who also likes to cook and clean and be a housewife.

Note again the emphasis given to women choosing their husbands, as though the man has no say in the matter at all. A straight woman can choose any guy she wants, but it doesn't mean he'll want to be chosen.

“You will lose your taste for the long-on-charisma and short-on-character guys whom you found yourself drawn to like a moth to a flame."

Yup, because every young woman is drawn to that kind of guy in their youth. And if you still find yourself attracted to men like that when you're older, even a little, then there's just something wrong with you, and you're not as fabulous and independent as you like to think you are.

I dislike marriage guides that address only one side of the relationship. It's as though people have forgotten that marriage is supposed to be a partnership of two people (or more, if you're so inclined.) One person does not a marriage make.

Placing the emphasis for a happy marriage on one person means that there's a convenient person to blame when things don't go swimmingly. According to this article's highlights of the book, a happy marriage is caused by a woman being awesome and problem-free, and by a man... just being there, I guess. It's as insulting as the assumption that any woman is going to want to get married to an attractive man with a good job, and therefore all the man has to do is pick the woman he likes best. Like livestock at a fair.

More than a few people were commenting on the article by pointing out that this book was written by a marriage therapist and a divorce lawyer. Now, I'm not saying that they're biased here, but really, can you think of two professions that would benefit more if their own advice failed? Not saying that's the reason they teamed up to write this book, but it makes me chuckle a little to think about how suspect their advice must seem to so many people. "Follow this advice and your marriage will be awesome! Oh, it didn't work? Well, why not come to my marriage counseling sessions? That not working out for you? Well here, here's the name and number of a divroce lawyer I know."

There is no age limit on maturity. My mother's is now in her 40s, married young, had a kid even younger, and has the maturity level of a 15 year old. Rei's parents are in their 50s, married young, the husband was abusive, and they got through it and now have one of the most loving marriages I've ever seen. Divorce rates may be rising, but I think that has more to do with the idiocy of the partners rather than the age at which they marry.

It's funny how the emphasis on marriage and age has shifted in recent decades. Before, women were urged to marry young so that someone could provide for them and they could have many children. Now, in this western society where a woman doesn't need a man to provide for her financially, it's like everyone's going to the opposite end of the scale. Now young marriages are archaic and outdated and just plain bad, and waiting as long as possible is the best move.

This sort of mentality also screws over people in my age bracket who are reasonably responsible. A person in their 20s who's living alone (or with a roommate) could be assumed to be reasonably responsible, right? To live without any provider but oneself means that one must have a stable job, income to pay rent and bills, the ability to feed oneself with some ability. But no, now because more and more people are saying that I'm don't even have enough self-knowledge to consider serious long-term dating, I'm expected to go party every night and get drunk of my ass, and nobody takes people like me seriously.

I have enough self-knowledge to know that I don't want to get married, don't want to have kids, and have enough issues to deal with, thank you very much. I've known that since I was 17. I know to talk my problems out now, thanks to Rei actually being willing to work things through with me, and I help Rei work his problems through just as much.

It didn't take me reaching 30 to find this out. And it certainly didn't happen by me being alone. It happened because I made an awesome friend in high school who, despite the problems we've had, has been willing to stick with me through thick and thin and to help me and has been there for me to lean on when times are tough. Hell, I think I'd marry Rei if he were interested! And I've so far done just about everything that book counsels against.

Weird. It's almost like it depends more on the people involved than on some hard-and-fast rule.

Nah. Must just be my imagination.


sarasvati: A white lotus flower floating on water. (Default)

August 2011

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