Since the start of 2012, literally beginning on January 1, 2012, my ears listened to more stories about marriage than usual. I spent much of the first day of this year listening to a friend’s reasons for not getting back with his ex-fiancé even though he is still more than madly in love with her. Then, later that day I heard a story from a friend about a man that proposed to his long-time girlfriend over the holidays, not because he was madly in love, but because he felt guilty about being with her for such a long time and not proposing to her and on and on…
The story that made an impression on me came from a total stranger one evening as I sat under the dryer at the salon. I don’t recall how the conversation started but somewhere in the middle of it she told me that she married her husband just last year after being together for eleven years. The hopeless romantic in me smiled widely and quickly said “Congratulations! You must’ve been so happy!” She replied with, “Mmmm,” and rolled her eyes.
Not knowing what to make of her gesture I didn’t say anything else, but she kept talking. She went on to tell me about the many break-ups she and her husband had before getting married, that he had a child with someone else in that time and the countless women that he’s been involved with outside of her and the drama that continues in their marriage. I could see how hurt she was by the expression on her face as she spoke.
I felt bad for her, but I wondered why she had married him after all of that. The only thing that made sense to me was that she married him because to her, marrying him was the prize. Yeah, he caused her a lot of pain but in the end she got the ring. He married her and not any of the other women that he had been involved with, almost like it was a competition to see who he would marry.
Unfortunately, stories like this one aren’t new to me. I’ve heard of and seen other relationship in which a woman is hopelessly and even sometimes unreasonably in love with a man that does her wrong over and over again but she stayed with him in hopes of one day being married to him. Why do women do this? Do we honestly think that marriage will change him or the situation? Even if you do “win” the ring, have you really won anything if he continues to treat you poorly after you’re married? Does being married excuse his behavior? Shouldn’t a woman demand more from the man that she vows to be with in sickness and in health and until death do them part?
To be clear, I do believe that people and situations can change and that a rocky relationship can be turned around to a harmonious one. But generally speaking, have women lost the true meaning of marriage? Were we ever aware of it in the first place? Are we seeking truly happy and healthy relationships based on friendships, love and respect that blossom into long-lasting marriages? Or are we seeking a ring to express to the world that we are desirable? A ring to back up the title of wife, giving a symbolic jab to any other woman that he may have been with, in essence saying, I won.