I read an article today on the state of marriage and how feminism and the feminist movement has impacted how men and women view marriage. It stated that statistically women’s interest/desire to marry has increased while men’s interest/desire to marry has decreased.
In case you’re interested in reading it as well…
While I do believe we, as a society, have contributed to the demise of marriage as a sacred institution, I don’t know that we can point to any one specific reason.
I believe that a large contributing factor to the downfall of relationships between men and women is the propensity for each to seek their happiness through the relationship. We have come to believe that our own happiness is paramount, and that when the relationship (hence the partner) is not making us happy any longer, then it must be time to move on.
…to find our happiness elsewhere.
At least I believe this was the biggest failure, which in turn caused the ultimate break down of my own personal marriage relationship.
And maybe my story isn’t anything like yours. Maybe I am unique in my thoughts.
But I can say that I believed that if he just ___(fill__in__the__blank)___ then everything would be okay. It all centered around him doing things that I wanted.
Rarely did I think of what I could do to make his life happier. This is not to mean that I didn’t do things for him. I was a stay at home mom, so laundry, dishes, dinner, shopping, cleaning, etc. were all the expected things for my part in taking care of a smooth running of the household. Plus I believed my support of his job was yet another thing I “did for him”. And of course this doesn’t include the special occasion gestures that would be a pointed effort to make him happy.
I failed to recognize that making it possible for him to work and not have to focus on the daily grind of running our household were not things that would specifically “make him happy”. I did things I “thought” would make him happy, and often disregarded the things he “asked for” because I guess I believed that I knew better. Of course he wouldn’t “ask” outright for the things that would make him happy, so I needed to interpret for him what that might be…right?!
And truly, when I did things, there seemed to always be a resulting feeling along down the line that was felt as “so I did XXX for you, what have you done for ME lately?” As though I was only doing things for our household/him as a payment for something in return.
Society has stepped away from selfless giving and survival being a joint effort. We are now so self reliant and seeking our own true happiness, that we rarely give what is necessary to make a relationship strong. Unabashed love and affection for our significant other and best friend. We wait for the other to “give of themselves” or make themselves vulnerable first, in an effort to avoid being hurt.
In an effort to avoid being rejected.
In an effort to avoid being judged.
In an effort to avoid coming up short in someone else’s eyes.
Now, I do believe that this idea of selfless giving is scary. That you could give, and then, heaven forbid, not get ANYTHING in return. And maybe even get heartache or pain in return. Or even be ignored, unappreciated.
I know that was one of my major fears.
I didn’t feel emotionally safe in my relationship.
Partly from my own doing, and partly from his actions.
I don’t condone the “using” of another person. That is not what I am advocating. If one side of any partnership is doing 100% of the giving and the other half is doing less that 10% in return, then it is an unbalanced situation. The giving between sides MUST be equalized to be effective.
I’d like to say that the giving in my marriage wasn’t equalized, and that it was primarily because HE wasn’t doing HIS part…
but the truth is…
I didn’t always do my part either.
I expected to be happy.
I expected that it was HIM who was supposed to make me happy.
I couldn’t have been further from the truth of what real love is all about.
I only know this now, because I see it through the love I have for my children. I constantly want to do things that will make them happy, expecting little in return.
Accepting all their flaws and shortcomings and yet still loving them and being completely devoted to them through all the challenges.
I didn’t do that for my marriage. (not that he did either)
And it has little to do with the feminist movement…but wow, does it provide a unique perspective that I wish I had BEFORE I got married. Maybe if I had known back then the outcome, I would have been pessimistic about marriage too.