Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Wrong Solution

Is a lifetime of wedded bliss still possible? That depends. If you ask me, I would respond with a resounding "Yes!" (I just celebrated eight years of happy marriage this week, in fact). But, if you ask Atlantic Monthly's Sandra Tsing Loh, she says that marriage is obsolete and kind of ridiculous, and she wonders what kind of personal idiocy induces one to marry in the first place.

While she did manage to walk down the aisle herself once without suffering any strangulating effects from the oppressiveness of the institution she was entering, after twenty years of marital un-bliss Ms. Loh is divorcing her husband, to her self-stated "horror". Of course, she says she is horrified by the undoing of her wedding vows, but then she reveals that she doesn't even enjoy men, particularly, and that "given [her] staggering working mother’s to-do list, [she] cannot take on yet another arduous home- and self-improvement project, that of rekindling [her] romance."

Yes, I can imagine it's much nicer to focus on all the boring, menial tasks that make up life and work, spend each day slaving over a desk and each night enjoying a healthy TV dinner and the warming glow of your laptop than it is to spend five minutes here and there reconnecting with your husband.

Honestly, if these other boring tasks are preferable to the work of nurturing her marriage (which is often a lot of fun in spite of the fact that it might be considered "work"), I feel sorry for her. What a lonely, pathetic life she's carved out for herself! If she is so overwhelmed that she can't find a few minutes for her husband at the end of the day, why doesn't she try dropping some of her other projects instead of ridding herself of her partner? (or cheating on him, as she admits to doing, because that makes perfect sense - it's certainly easier to make time for secret trysts with another man when you're on a tight schedule than it is to romance the one who is already sleeping in your bed at home).

But, as anti-marriage as she may be, the author has a solution for modern marriages which doesn't require the work she is so keen to avoid - yay! She posits that research has shown that children don't really need parents who love each other - they just need domestic stability (What the...?); therefore, why not try out a post-modern marriage arrangement: have a husband to take care of the clogged pipes and shelf-building, and a boyfriend on the side for sex. Or, even better, she suggests an arrangement where the women and children live with their female relatives and the husbands only appear once or twice a week to cook or provide a little bedroom entertainment.

If either of those ideas seem a little too Byzantine for your taste, you can just stick with her final advice: "Avoid marriage — or you too may suffer the emotional pain, the humiliation, and the logistical difficulty, not to mention the expense, of breaking up a long-term union at midlife for something as demonstrably fleeting as love."

Um, wow. It is really sad that marriage has been degraded to the point that it is thought to be nothing but a vehicle for self-fulfillment. And then, when the self-fulfillment grinds to a halt or your spouse demands too much time, unhappy wives and husbands present their get-out-of-jail-free card (you know, that "it's all about me and my happiness" card) and escape the marriage in pursuit of a more enjoyable, less responsible life.

Well, I have some news for Ms. Loh: She won't find happiness out there, no matter how many career goals she meets or how many exotic vacations she takes, no matter how many dinners she has with girlfriends or the number of nights she spends romancing hot, young guys. When you willingly throw away your family because you are afraid of a little work and tired of the responsibility, there is absolutely nothing that will save your happiness from being squashed by your own selfish actions.

Doing away with marriage isn't the answer. Doing away with selfishness is.


Rizley Family said...

people certainly are stupid!

Stephanie Black said...

This is so sad and so messed up. We've been married for twenty happy years.

Your last line summed things up perfectly.

Megan B said...

It makes you wonder what this woman's parents' relationship was like. This is so sad. And gaining popularity.