Last week I watched Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday featuring author and “relationship expert,” Tracy McMillan. Author of I Love You and I’m Leaving You Anyway is perhaps best known for her controversial article in the Huffington Post entitled, Why You’re Not Married.
After watching the show, I read the article, which highlights the six reasons why women (who want to be married) are not married. It got me thinking.
The reasons why women who want to be married aren’t married are the same reasons (with the exception of reason number three) why I am divorced. Twice. And why Ms. McMillian herself is thrice divorced.
As a woman, I can honestly say that I was totally unprepared for marriage the first time around. It boils down to this:
The Princess Fantasy and Why Men Take So Long to Commit:
With the proliferation of Disney princesses, today more than ever our daughters are growing up with an unrealistic expectation of what marriage is and what it can do for them. They grow up believing—with every fiber of their being—that marriage will make them happy.
It won’t because, as McMillan points out,once the initial high wears off, you’ll just be you, except with twice as much laundry.
Most girls, by the time they grow up, have a pretty clear picture of what their wedding dress will look like, who their brides maids will be, and the song that will play during the first dance with their (still faceless and nameless) groom. Many even know what they’ll name their first child (I was going to have a daughter named Sarah). Unfortunately, girls are taught to look forward to the wedding, not the marriage and all that it entails. It’s why we are so quick to say yes!
Men, on the other hand, have a more realistic expectation of marriage. Most couldn’t care less about the actual wedding. They understand one thing. Their single days are over. Or, as McMillan puts it, marriage for men involves sacrificing their most treasured possession—a free-agent penis. It’s why they wait so long to propose.
Prince Charming and the White Stallion:
What would a princess fantasy be without Prince Charming? Every girl wants to marry a tall, broad shouldered, good looking man with a good job and a steady income. What she should want is a man of character.
Instead we fall for men who are emotionally unavailable and end up broken hearted when our attempts to convince him that he can’t live without us have surprisingly failed. Again. We fall for men who aren’t our intellectual, spiritual or emotional equals. Who don’t share the same life goals and values that we do.
We do this because we don’t know ourselves well enough. Don’t love ourselves fully. Don’t yet understand our own worth. Unfortunately, I didn’t learn these things before my first marriage. Or my second. Truth be told, I didn’t learn them before my current marriage either. But this time, because I married a man of substance, I’ve come to know and love myself in ways that (in my opinion) only come with age. And maturity.
And until we reach this point, most of us are unprepared for what comes after the wedding. After the honeymoon. Marriage is hard work. It’s compromising, even when you don’t want to compromise. It’s apologizing, even when you know you’re right because his feelings are more important than your pride. It’s loving someone even when they don’t deserve it because there will be days when you don’t deserve it either.
If there was one piece of advice I could pass along to my daughter (and wish my mother had passed along to me), it would be this. Before you marry, wait until you know yourself fully, love yourself completely. And then, choose your partner wisely.
What about you? Did you marry young? Looking back, do you think you were fully prepared for marriage in your twenties? What about your thirties?