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Modern Women and the New Definition of Marriage

Marriage seems to be a hot topic these days — perhaps because of all thepoliticians who can’t keep their penises in their pants.

Or maybe that’s just a coincidence. Regardless, there’s a new book out called Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough, by Lori Gottlieb. The gist of the book is that women need to be smarter about picking a husband. Rather than reject guys for no real reason, or thinking passion is enough of reason to go out with someone, women should consider what qualities are most important in a husband. In other words: Lower your expectations, gals.

There was also an article in Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal about the secrets of happy couples who’ve been married 40-plus years. Then today there was an op-ed piece in Wall Street Journal titled, “Did I Get Married Too Young?” All this discussion of marriage reminds me of something Julie Christie’s character says in the movie “Away From Her.” She’s riding in the car with her husband of 44 years on the way to an assisted living place for people with Alzheimer’s and thinking about their life together. In recalling a string of affairs her husband had decades earlier when he was a professor — a lapse he apparently made amends for in the ensuing decades — she says,

“I think people are too demanding. They want to be in love every single day. What a liability.”

A liability indeed, one that has a lot to do with why marriage has become such a problem for the younger generation. Modern women want too much — and expect too much — from marriage.

What women need to do is listen to their grandmothers. One wife from the article about people who’ve been married for eons gave this advice: “You have to love your spouse more than life itself.” Another husband said he quit the Air Force early in their marriage because it bothered his wife to have him gone so much. And yet another husband — Ozzy Osborne of all people — said, “You don’t throw in the towel at the first sign of trouble.”

All good advice; but, sadly, this is not the attitude taken by today’s young couples — women in particular. Modern women have been taught to put themselves first; they rarely advocate making major life decisions for the sake of their partner; and they often throw in the towel at the first sign of trouble. Indeed, most divorces today are initiated by women — a stark contrast to several generations ago.

So what’s the answer? In “Did I Get Married Too Young?” David Lapp, 22 and newly married, suggests an entirely new way of viewing matrimony. Rather than considering marriage “the end of adventure and beginning of monotony” — as my generation has (I’m 41) — what if we begin to view it as,

“learning to live with and love another person? We may be startled to find that the greatest adventure lies not in knowing oneself as much as in knowing and committing to another person.”

What a concept. And it only took a 22 year-old to point it out.


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