Marriage is a sacred bond that should be valued above all else. This is something everyone knows to be true. Right? Divorce rates exceeding 50% might suggest otherwise, and perhaps it’s time we re-examined the institution.
There have been numerous think pieces on this subject recently, with one published in the Huffington Post receiving the most publicity. In it, Natalie Brooke, a self-described “conservative, millennial writer and thought leader” who “believes in hard work, being unapologetic for what you believe, and giving more than you receive” penned an angry diatribe, not toward the institution of marriage itself, but for those who believe that it’s some sort of an accomplishment.
Brooke’s main complaints with marriage—specifically, it would seem, the popping of the question and all of the celebrations and trappings resulting from that—is that it seems to take the luster away from all of the legitimate accomplishments women make in this world. She writes, “It is 2016 and being popped the question is still more celebrated than academic and professional pursuits of women. Yes, college graduations and landing a great career and receiving wonderful promotions are all received with happiness from friends and family, but not even close to the same level of elation received when you announce that you are getting hitched.”
While I agree with the basic premise of Brooke’s article—I, too, believe that the accomplishments of women both from an academic, business, and political perspective outweigh that of getting married—I believe that social media may be to blame for seemingly placing marriage above these others in the hierarchy. Additionally, I think there is at least something to be said for marriage as far as being an accomplishment itself, both for the wife and husband.
Marriage isn’t a culmination, but it is a cause for celebration.
When a man and woman get to the point at which they’re ready to get married, their relationship has likely already endured its fair amount of struggles. These blips on the radar of blissful love are useful tests that can help determine if the relationship has what it takes to stand the test of time, or if it will crumble under the pressure. Marriage is a symbol that a couple has endured these tests, and has decided that they have what it takes to endure all future tests as far as their relationship is concerned. For this reason, it’s a worthy accomplishment.
That being said, it’s more the beginning of the road rather than the beginning. The blips will continue to come, and they might even be more frequent or come with a higher magnitude. The celebration will become the recognition throughout time that you have continued to maintain the relationship.
The author of the Huffington Post piece admits that she’s excited for her own wedding—and she should be! While having a spectacular wedding, complete with ridiculous arrangements and trimmings, cakes and booze, should not be considered necessary, it’s a wonderful event, and one to be very excited about. But the accomplishment is not the event (as stressful and as expensive as one can be—actually, I may take that back a bit, as it could almost be an accomplishment to walk away from putting on a wedding and being debt-free!), but the union itself.
“In general,” says the author, “I have noticed that I tend to be questioned much more about my relationship, engagement, or wedding than my job or related accomplishments.” While marriage isn’t a higher accomplishment than those you achieved within your job, shouldn’t one place the importance of their relationship over their job? In that particular hierarchy, most would agree that their family and loved ones should absolutely take precedent over their occupation. When these questions are asked, I would contend that it’s more in an effort to discuss the health of the other person’s relationship than it is to sleight their achievements in other avenues of their lives.
The accomplishment—yes, I’m going to use that word—of marriage is not to the detriment of the multitude of other accomplishments women can make. The two aren’t mutually exclusive. However, I do understand the author’s point, where it seems as if the accomplishment that enjoys the most time in the spotlight is the marriage. I truly believe social media is to blame here.
Everyone, male and female, makes announcements on Facebook when they’ve accepted a new job, received a promotion, or achieved a milestone at work. Typically, this is lauded with congratulatory messages and likes. But, naturally, engagements are also posted on social media.
Now, what’s more aesthetically pleasing? A Facebook of one’s increase in status at a company, or an engagement notice complete with a shiny, diamond-encrusted ring?
I think you know the answer to that one.
Engagements are more enticing from a social media perspective. They’re just more “social media-esque” to begin with! That’s the only reason one could see a discrepancy between engagements and real-world accomplishments—they’re all being announced via a social media platform. It isn’t that engagements and marriages are considered higher accomplishments, it’s just that the nature of sharing this news is extremely superficial in the first place.
My biggest issue with the article is that, while it does give credit to the sense of accomplishment maintaining a long-term marriage is entitled to, it subtly implies that accomplishments outside of the happiness of family life should be more highly touted than marriage itself. Women should be considered equals to men when it comes to their rights, and I understand that putting marriage on such a pedestal accomplishment-wise might seem to be a detriment to this.
However, a successful marriage and a happy family should be considered the highest accomplishment for both women and men. Marriage is not a one-sided endeavor—by definition, it takes two. It is the ultimate connection two people can have with each other. If that isn’t an accomplishment to be held in high regard, then I don’t know what is.