The idea that marriage can ruin a relationship that was once loving and respectful is probably one of the most popular Hollywood created and promoted myths around. And despite the fact that it is completely untrue, it just won’t die.
I have no doubt that anyone old enough to be interested in a blog post on marriage has heard this myth recited in movies, on television programs, and in real life from people attempting to justify their unwillingness to commit to their current partner.
The popularity of this myth has been bolstered by long-term celebrity couples like Susan Sarandon / Tim Robbins and Goldie Hawn / Kurt Russell, who claim that keeping their options open also keeps their relationship “fresh and exciting”. Frankly, I don’t buy it. I suspect that Hollywood people are merely trying to keep their accumulated assets from ending up in the hands of their partners should the relationship end. California is a No-Fault Divorce state, which means a 50/50 asset split after 10 years of marriage, regardless of the circumstances leading to the divorce.
The power of the marriage myth lies in its ability to convince otherwise intelligent people (usually women, but sometimes men) that someone who has flat out refused to commit to them and a long-term future with them has done so, but in a way that “protects” the relationship. Its a brilliant idea, no doubt about it. But it’s also absolute bull crap!
Sometimes, the perpetrator will even buy their sucker … I mean partner a ring symbolizing their one-sided commitment. And I’m not talking about the Johnny Depp variety of engagement that will never lead to a wedding (that’s a whole other post). When you invoke the marriage myth there is no engagement. There will never be an engagement! After all, “Marriage is just a piece of paper that destroys love. We don’t need the government to tell us that are commitment is real!”
Let’s face it, the truth does hurt in matters of love and commitment when what you willingly give to someone else is not returned in kind. And it is easier and far less offensive for them to recite the marriage myth than to say, “when I get tired of you or find someone I believe is better than you, I want to make sure that you can never get your hands on any of my assets – even if you foolishly helped me gain many of them, despite my refusal to commit to you.”
While the myth sounds romantic and idealistic, the truth sounds ugly and selfish. THAT is why this myth is so popular.
This post was inspired by the real-life situation of my cousin-in-law. We’ll call her Sara. Sara was in a 5+ year relationship with a man who told her that he wanted to finish grad school before getting married. After he graduated, in year two of their relationship, he said he wanted to establish a career first. He got a great job right out of grad school, because he interned at the company during college and grad school. So now he has a high paying job/career at an engineering firm with multiple government contracts, and since he is one of the few Americans there (and he’s White) he will probably have a job there for as long as he wants it. But he still insisted to Sara that he was not ready to get married. His new excuses included not having enough saved for a lavish wedding and wanting to buy them a home first.
So this year, he bought a three bedroom house (his name alone is on the deed) and moved her in, and she was excited about it and expected a proposal to come soon after, but months passed and there was no proposal. To top it off, this year Sara had to sit through five family weddings (that he would not attend with her) and watch people who hadn’t known each other half as long as she’d been with him tie the knot, including me and her cousin.
Understandably, Sara got impatient as Thanksgiving approached, because he usually spent the holidays with his family and she with hers (which I always found odd), and asked him when they would be getting married. He told her that he thinks they should forgo marriage because things were “perfect” between them and he didn’t want to “ruin it”. And yes, he claimed that marriage was just piece of paper.
She said that when he said those words she was finally able to acknowledge what she had always suspected, but didn’t want to accept: that he did not, and had never, loved her the way that she loved him. She admitted to keeping the breakup a secret for so long because she had been embarrassed about letting him waste more than half a decade of her life. She told us all this on Christmas day, and they had broken up three days before Thanksgiving.
What I call the marriage myth she refers to as the “Woody Allen”. She said she wished that he had tried to pull the “Woody Allen” on her years ago, so that she could have dumped him sooner and found someone who genuinely wanted to start a life with her.
As angry and hurt as Sara is, she’s very lucky. Unlike most of the women who have allowed a man to waste years and even decades of their lives, Sara is only 28 years old. Sara recognized the marriage myth / “Woody Allen” for what it was the moment her ex tried using it on her, and ended the relationship right then and there. She escaped the trap young, which is why I wanted to recount her story.
I have come across dozens of BW who were/are in long-term “relationships” with no hope of ever getting a bona fide commitment from men that they refer to as “their man”. And from what I’ve heard, the marriage myth is usually used up front. No tall tales about needing to buy a home, save for a wedding, or finish graduate school, just “most marriages end in divorce, so why jeopardize a good thing” or “it’s just a piece of paper, we don’t need it to prove we love each other” and other equally insincere variations on the theme. Pretty soon the woman is reciting those same lies to her family and friends, and claiming that she’s not disappointed because “marriage isn’t everything”. Those who really believe this will probably end up old, alone and childless or old, alone and a baby mama – shouldering all the burden and blame for how poorly her fatherless child(ren) turn out.
I’ve noticed that divorce stats are especially popular with men looking to waste your child-bearing years. What I do not understand is why so many women fall for it. It really saddens me to know how gullible so many BW are. Or is this acceptance an act of desperation, as some contend? Whatever a woman’s reason for accepting the marriage myth, here’s the truth: If you allow a man to gain all the benefits of marriage without his having to marry you, he will NEVER marry you! Why should he?
Women can spare themselves a lot of heartache and wasted time by saving the wifely chores for after the wedding. And I’m not even talking about sex. Sex is the least of what many BW are offering to men that they want to love them. How many Black women do you know who are acting as cook, maid, laundress, sounding board, ATM, ego massager and defender to men who are unwilling to put a ring on it? I’m guessing at least one. And it’s not working. It will never work, because men are not like women in some very important biochemical ways.
FYI, even the nicest man in the world will take advantage of you, if you allow him to. He may eventually feel guilty and dump you, because he knows that he will never respect and love you, but for the time being he will take whatever you willingly give. Even your women friends and family members will take advantage of you, if you don’t require reciprocity. It’s Human nature. How much of an advantage each will take is a reflection of their individual character and conscience.
But more likely than not, if you are giving everything that you have to offer to people you do not require to reciprocate, you will only attract users. Extreme generosity tends to make decent people feel very uncomfortable, and obligated.
Part of the problem is that many BW date from a position of weakness, dating one guy at a time, giving their all to someone who has done nothing to earn such undivided attentiveness. Going the “hopelessly devoted” route, before marriage, is NEVER a good idea. Men, real men, love competing with other men for what they desire and coming up the winner. Men always value what they have fought for and won more than what is simply given to them. If you make a man work for the honor of being your man and eventually your husband, he will always treat you like the treasure that you are, because he knows that you have other options. Trust me on this.
Keep in mind, that if you are the one reciting the marriage myth because you want a man in your life but not a husband, that is your choice and I respect it. But if you are marriage-minded and want an actual commitment and some guy is just stringing you along until someone “better” comes along, it’s time to cut that string and move on.
No matter what you may have read or been told by the media, your family, friends, social “scientists”, or your man, you can always find a better man!