If your Facebook news feed is anything like my own, it’s been exploding with wedding dresses, engagements and ultrasound photos. If you’re not one to get hitched as soon as its legal, you may be feeling left in the Facebook dust. It seems like people are asking the same question over and over: When are you tying the knot? When are you settling down?
When it comes down to it, marriage these days seems to be more valued in society than a woman’s self-actualization.
A couple I know are getting married this month. I asked the woman if she would be taking her man’s last name. She said yes, and he interjected with: “If she wants the money, she has to take the name.” The whole concept of the woman changing her name essentially isolates the woman, cutting off ties from her former life and family. This makes her life before marriage seem invalid, to the point where it’s harder to find married women on Facebook if one doesn’t know her married name.
This only reinforces the institution of marriage as just that: an institution. Women essentially become their man’s possession and are expected to embody the values of a “good wife.” Unfortunately, the women’s movement has had a difficult time penetrating this aspect of society because it’s been indoctrinated for centuries. Think about this:
“So and so sitting in a tree.
First comes love, then comes, marriage
Then comes a baby in a baby carriage.”
What about an education? Or a career? What about abolishing such an archaic idea of love that can only be legitimized through a document made by men?
Instead of defining women through their marriage (or lack thereof), society could relinquish its presumptions and free women from martyrdom. They could become anything and everything they ever wanted without the guilt of being a “bad wife” or “bad mother” for doing something selfish. Many women choose to not go to school or receive higher education to focus on their families, which is fine and dandy if it’s not out of fear of betraying social code.
Consider a plan to negotiate how your marriage could unfold, especially if you decide to have children. Decide when and who will get the opportunity to develop their career or education and who will assume the majority of family duties. This should alleviate the pressure (specifically on the woman) to let both partners realize their dreams.
The expectation of the “good wife” should become expectations for the couple, so that the wife can finally be the one to put her feet up on her golden retriever and smoke a pipe by the fire, all while her husband fixes her a sandwich.
The remnants of chivalry still linger today, especially in the dating world.