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Sunday, June 10, 2012

Marriage Is Dead


     I have been asked several times on my opinion about marriage, I can only respond that the traditional way of what it once was, is dead. Some argue that I need to look around and see many people married but I can only ask for how long? Divorce rates have heightened and I think several other things come into play as this new generation settles down. My research and sources follow.

“Sometimes I feel like Alice in Wonderland. But lately, mostly, I feel like an endangered species.” (Hekker 414).  Times change, as the years go by technology advances, morals change, and what your parents used to have on a regular basis no longer exists. Terry Martin Hekker was a stay at home wife. Therefore she cared for the children, cleaned the house, made the meals and made the house a home. Since the start of the world wars the ideal situation for women was keeping up the house and the man working to support the family, the traditional family has since diminished. Maybe this was expected. Maybe the only factor was time before women started to do what all men do, but in a way of speaking it is fair.

So where does that leave us now in society today? Everyone knows times change but it’s just a manner of words, what happens in the changing times? More and more marriages fail. They end in divorce and people don’t even want to get married anymore. Due to this, traditional marriages no longer can be successful. If you want a successful marriage you need to drop tradition and do things for the marriage that have never been done before.  So what are the causes of the changing times and the decline of marriage? It is said those who don’t know their history is doomed to repeat it. So it is only appropriate to know what has happened so far.

     Around 1892 a female author by the name of Charlotte Perkins Gilman wrote a short story of a woman slowly going into psychosis—this story was supposed to reflect her life currently. The title of this story was The Yellow Wallpaper. The story begins when she and her husband move into a house for a summer—reasons are unknown. Her husband is a physician and she is slowly starting to feel a nervousness come over her body.

Her husband—John–says that she is just a little sick and tells her that she will get better; all she needs to do is sleep. Feeling that her husband knows best she does all he says, but in all reality it only makes it worse. At this point I realized that John never really believed his wife and looking at the year I understand why. At this point of time men were dominant of society and women were just a mere luxury. Women had no voice in society so they were more forced to marry in order to obtain that voice. This became the “traditional” marriage—though it started way before this.

Here is when Charlotte’s character is starting to become mentally sick, her husband not willing to do anything because she is a woman. Told just to rest John has his wife cooped up in a room for most of the summer. She first just stairs out the window but then she notices something peculiar, the yellow wallpaper that is within the room she resides.    
I never saw a worse paper in my life. One of those sprawling flamboyant patterns committing every artistic sin. It is dull enough to confuse the eye in following, pronounced enough to constantly irritate and provoke study, and when you follow the lame uncertain curves for a little distance they suddenly commit suicide—plunge off at outrageous angles, destroy themselves in unheard of contradictions. The color is repellent, almost revolting; a smoldering unclean yellow, strangely faded by the slow-turning sunlight. This wall-paper has a kind of sub-pattern in a different shade, a particularly irritating one, for you can only see it in certain lights, and not clearly then… But in the places where it isn't faded and where the sun is just so—I can see a strange, provoking, formless sort of figure, that seems to skulk about behind that silly and conspicuous front design.” (Gilman).                   
She soon sees a woman in the front design and at night it’s as if the woman is trying to leave the paper. She then tries to not have her husband think that anything is going wrong. She acts as if she’s getting better and sleeps during the day but watches the woman at night. The main characters sense of reality is now skewed and she starts to believe that she is the woman that is stuck behind the paper. At this point I start to realize that she is developing some mental disorders, mostly depression, schizophrenia and paranoia—but most of the time all these disorders come hand and hand.
On the last day within the house she pushes herself to tear off all the paper within the room to finally release the poor spirit locked within the walls. After doing this, her husband walks into the room and she claims that he can no longer put her back thus resulting in her husband to faint and go unconscious. Not everything was so peachy as we are led to think. The woman married “traditionally”—though at the time women really had no other choice—only to sacrifice her own sanity.               
A psychoanalysist by the name of Dr. Harriet Fraad explains that the American dream and stable marriages are failing because of four things. First is a transformation of economic life, second a transformation of the formation of families, third is participation in social groups and lastly we are numbing ourselves. She begins to explain roughly one hundred later the United States becomes stricken with an event that people know as modernization. In 1970 computers were introduced to the workplace thus increasing productivity and eliminating jobs for the working class. Because of this we were able to have others produce our products thus creating China to become the manufacturing leader. Women soon realize that because of the lack of income they too—along with their husbands—need to work too.    
Women soon had no time to do what they originally did on a regular basis—like maintaining the household and preparing meals—thus forcing them to purchase goods that could be made at home with no cost like fresh baked bread. This made the woman’s work outside of the house void so families then became dependent on credit cards. Knowing that you will be in debt no matter what hurt everyone emotionally, especially women. Women themselves worked their own job to go home to attend to children’s social lives and kept the home a comfortable place to live. Women soon became as anxious and depressed as they were before. “For the first time in American history, the majority of women are (now) abandoning marriage (Fraad 203).”
Today majority of women are now single thus creating men and children to become lonely, stressed and disconnected from day to day life.  “Men have depended on women’s emotional labor for their psychological sustenance. When men’s emotional relationships with women break down, they have little intimate emotional support (203).” Most social connections between Americans now have declined due to this loneliness.  In order to dull the pain—on both sides—Americans do one thing, which is to find anything to dull the pain.    
Women easily count on other women to maintain each other on such a level that they could form a sports team and they would never loose a world series—though they would never do that. Men on the other hand, is another case. Men find it hard to communicate with each other on a personal level whether it is our hard hearts or social norms saying we have no feelings. Either way we as Americans have lost a sense of a comfortable home. Women’s now increasing work time reduces all the free time for social participation. But what do Americans now do on their free time? On average every American watches up to eight hours a day watching television. “Extensive television viewing may be responsible for the largest part of the drop out rate (of social groups).  More people relate to their television sets than each other (204).”     
This excessive viewing of television leave Americans unsatisfied with themselves and is becoming a faulty way to escape from day to day life.  Thus forcing us to find other ways to numb our pain, psychotropic drugs. “In 2006, Americans, who are approximately 6% of the worlds population, consumed 66% of the worlds supply of antidepressants…The anti-depressant Zoloft is so widely prescribed, that in 2005, the $3.1 billion dollars in sales of Zoloft exceeded the sales of Tide detergent (205).” To add to that we are the only nation without a price cap on our drugs, which creates a bigger debt, which creates a bigger void.               
Eric Bartels lives in our present day marriage but there seems to be a complication in his relationship. It seems that women now are getting more and more prideful than in the past. No longer can everything be split 50/50 in a marriage. Though women do have to work a job along with maintaining a household, as long as the other partner does everything, nobody should have the superior complex that they are entitled to more in a relationship. Eric’s wife seems to think otherwise. “One night she stomped into the kitchen as I was cleaning up after a dinner that I may well have cooked and served and announced in angry tones that she needed more help getting the kids ready for bed than I had been providing, as if she had just found me drinking beer and playing video games (Bartels 438).”
From how Eric makes it sound it seems like his wife is an ungrateful bitch who doesn’t understand when someone is doing as much as they can. I would like to say that this is how all women are like in society today but there are always some exceptions—so we wont go with that stereotype right now. As far as I can tell, the well-mannered wife –who keeps to the house—and the hard working husband—who brings home all the income—is no longer what it used to be.
Fraad continues to make her points by switching to religion. Fraad explains that evangelical groups claim that a family’s success is through God but then they separate everyone into specific groups. Men’s groups, women’s groups and children’s bible study which defeats the point. Evangelical groups can show us economic and political ethics and morality for everyone, but that alone won’t save a marriage.
Now today, if we start to look at the other countries and we start to realize they are beginning to go through the same problems that the United States has been going through. Can you help but think that if you have a successful marriage, this would no longer happen? But us alone cannot just fix the problem, the problem all started with debt. Every country is in debt, so how can we solve it?                   
We can start to go back to our roots, since tradition always works right? We can start an excursion as men to put women back into their place, since women are better being barefoot and pregnant while we as men do whatever the hell we want to do. Just like the good old times that our fathers, fathers lived. That would soon create a civil war between males and females thus boosting our economy, again, and when everything is said and done we can all hold hands and sing Kumbaya around a fire and everything would be peaches and cream until we realize were just going to get ourselves back into debt because during the war we burnt all our books—due to the female Nazi party—because we never learned from history, going back to tradition would never work.                                            
What we need to do is something new, something that will keep us happy. The solution is right in front of our faces. First we need to get out of debt, as unrelated as it sounds this will affect all marriages and not just as a family, we need to obtain this as an entire country. Thus making us more social which fills our “void” that we have been filling with pills and meaningless objects, which, therefore, will get us even more out of debt.
As soon as we become happy with ourselves we then can be happy with a significant other, who will create a successful marriage but heading back to a traditional marriage will not help anything. Women are just as equal as man and if a man wants to stay home and a woman want to work then so be it. It never was written down that a marriage had to be just one concrete thing. Marriage needs to be full of compromise and as long as you both are happy, there is no reason to have an unsuccessful marriage.

References Page

Bartels, E. (2004) My problem with her anger. In L Behrens, & L. J. Rosen (Eds) Writing and reading across the curriculum (11th ed.) (436-442). New York:

Longman. Fraad, H. (2011). Economy and psychology: A marriage in trouble. The Journal Psychohistory, 38(3), 198-212. Retrieved from EBSCOhost

Gilman, C. (1892, January) The yellow wallpaper. The New England Magazine 11(5).

Hekker, T. (1977). The satisfactions of housewifery and motherhood/paradise lost (domestic division). In L Behrens, & L. J. Rosen (Eds) Writing and reading across the curriculum (11th ed.) (412-417). New York: Longman. 

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