If you’re Facebook friends with anyone at all, you’ve probably come across the viral blog post du jour, “Marriage Isn’t For You.” Some people are touched, some people are inspired, and most of us at The Gloss are… creeped out.
Newlywed blogger Seth Adam Smith discusses his revelation that marriage is about prioritizing another person’s needs over your own, and I get that. It’s a really nice concept, and in a perfect world with perfect equality between the genders, it would definitely work. Unfortunately, though, we still get married in a patriarchal society, and it’s important to realize that when we preach selflessness as a virtue, it makes it harder for some people to leave abusive relationships.
“A true marriage (and true love) is never about you,” Smith writes. “It’s about the person you love– their wants, their hopes, and their dreams. Selfishness demands, ‘What’s in it for me?’ while Love asks, ‘What can I give?’”
If there were a way to guarantee that Smith’s words could only reach an audience with healthy, balanced, respectful marriages, I’d totally be on board with this message. Ideally, both partners would be equally concerned with taking care of each other. But look at the headlines on magazines directed at men, as opposed to those directed at women. This month’s Men’s Health cover boasts “Sizzling Sex Adventures” and “Get-Rich Strategies,” while this month’s Cosmopolitan tells us to “Be the Best He’s Ever Had!” and “Be sexier by tonight!” Our culture puts a hell of a lot more pressure on women to nurture their relationships. Men get to sit back and enjoy the ride.
What movies are directed at women? Romantic comedies, stories about women making sacrifices for their families and for their husbands, stories about strong men in which women are bit players. Women don’t need to be explicitly told to put men first. We already get that message a thousand times a day.
So what message is “Marriage Isn’t For You” really sending? It’s telling women to put their own needs on the back burner, in the hopes that a man will do the same for her. But will he? Maybe. But the culture certainly doesn’t tell him he has to.
There’s a glaring problem with the words “The more you truly love that peson, the more love you receive.” That’s precisely the attitude that has repeatedly pressured women to stay in abusive relationships. It says that if he’s not treating you correctly, you’re not trying hard enough. It’s saying that his lack of respect for you is your own fault.
I’m sick of women having to be the bigger man. Treat yourself like a priority! Be giving and kind and selfless only when a man has proven time and again that he extends the same courtesy to you.