As you may or may not know, I’m not a professional writer. I often think I should be. If the truth be told, I’m just keeping my amateur status so I can write in the Olympics. There are a few things I never do when writing. The first is I never utilize gargantuan idioms to fabricate intelligence (use big words to sound smart). The second is I never write unless I have had a few Diet Cokes. I don’t like it when I have too much blood in my caffeine stream. So, let me take a sip of Diet Coke and get started.
Earlier this week I read an article by Kate Bolick entitled “All the Single Ladies”. Let me tell you, it was a LOOOOONG article. It went on and on and on and on and on and on AND ON. Did I say it was long? I believe it was just four paragraphs away from being considered a novel. Ms Bolick, in addition to being long winded, is also in the habit of utilizing gargantuan idioms, but in her case, she ain’t faking it. It was a (long) veeeeerrrrrrry thorough article (long) covering many aspects of modern life, and was a (long) personal story of her decision process on putting off marriage. It was long, but interesting and worth the read.
Ms. Bolick begins the article by recounting a story of a break-up that happened ten years ago. She admits she was (and is) still fond of the man. Her friends were shocked at the break up. She admits not being sure why they broke up. She says, “To account for my behavior, all I had were two intangible yet undeniable convictions: something was missing; I wasn’t ready to settle down.” She continued, “The decision to end a stable relationship for abstract rather than concrete reasons (“something was missing”), I see now, is in keeping with a post-Boomer ideology that values emotional fulfillment above all else. And the elevation of independence over coupling (“I wasn’t ready to settle down”) is a second-wave feminist idea I’d acquired from my mother, who had embraced it, in part, I suspect, to correct for her own choices.” She then described herself as a third grader marching into school wearing a feminist inspired T-shirt with the slogan: “A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle.”
Later, she continues, “But what transpired next lay well beyond the powers of everybody’s imagination: as women have climbed ever higher, men have been falling behind. We’ve arrived at the top of the staircase, finally ready to start our lives, only to discover a cavernous room at the tail end of a party, most of the men gone already, some having never shown up—and those who remain are leering by the cheese table, or are, you know, the ones you don’t want to go out with.”
People are putting marriage off later and later, “In 1960, the median age of first marriage in the U.S. was 23 for men and 20 for women; today it is 28 and 26…. According to the Pew Research Center, a full 44 percent of Millennials and 43 percent of Gen Xers think that marriage is becoming obsolete.”
Why is that?
Not wanting to turn this into the eternal article, I’m going to concentrate on what I think the problem is. I think she unwittingly nailed it when she said, “I see now, is in keeping with a post-Boomer ideology that values emotional fulfillment above all else. And the elevation of independence over coupling”. To me that’s the underlying problem. Selfishness.
I can tell you from personal experience marriage is hard. My wife and I have been happily married for seven years now (we got married twenty years ago). She will be the first to tell you the seven happy years are accumulative. NOT in row. It’s work. My mother said it best when she told me, as a recently engaged boy, marriages based on the 50/50% principle fail. You have to be 100/100% or you won’t make it. Luckily I found a woman who has been willing to put up with my shenanigans and tomfoolery.
I’m smiling right now because I just realized the chorus to Beyonce’s song “All the single ladies” (the title of Ms. Bolick’s article) goes “If you liked it then you shoulda put a ring on it.” Beyonce did just that. She has a successful career, got married, and is now pregnant.
The perfect marriage partner doesn’t exist
Of course you don’t want to lower your standards to raise someone else’s. But be realistic. The perfect man doesn’t exist, of course neither does the perfect woman (and that includes you).
So ladies, what do you do if your “Knight in Shining Armor”, turns out to be an idiot in aluminum foil? Well, as an aluminum clad man I can tell you personally the best thing you can do is love us. Men are gross, I know it, you know it, everyone knows it. Left to our own devises we would still be huddled in a cave somewhere. Not to get all “Tom Cruisey” on you but, “You (sniff, sniff)….(sob) complete me”. Love us, I’m not necessarily talking in a carnal way (although I’m big fan of the carnal way), Love us. But don’t get “love” and “mother” us mixed up. There is a HUGE difference. Find a man you can be compatible with, someone who you can work out your problems, and can share your successes with and take the plunge.
The newspaper columnists Jenkins Lloyd Jones once said, “Anyone who imagines bliss is normal is going to waste a lot of time running around shouting that he’s been robbed. The fact is that most putts don’t drop, most beef is tough, most children grow up to be just people, most successful marriages require a high degree of mutual toleration, most jobs are more often dull than otherwise.”
“Life is like an old time rail journey…delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders, and jolts: interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed. The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride.”