Women Are Being Tricked Into Thinking Marriage Is Good for Them

woman in mourning with flowersIt's wedding season, folks, which means for every person who goes mad for DIY bouquets and gown hunting, there's at least another who abhors the whole shebang -- "I do" and everything that comes with it, present and future -- with a passion. Case in point: In a recent YourTango piece, writer Renee Martin shares that she wears black as a rule to her friends' weddings, because "even though it’s supposed to be a celebration, a part of me will always mourn for the bride."


The 40-year-old -- who has been in a long-term relationship for 24 years with no intention to wed -- says she mourns for the bride, because she says she sees "all too clearly the realities of marriage for women." In her opinion, that's ... being tasked with the majority of child-raising, housework, and elder care aka "draining never-ending labor." Because somehow being a wife and keeping your house tidy or caring for an aging, sick parent are one in the same ...? No. And oh, yeah, single women can raise kids now, too!

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So, not quite sure I'm seeing how getting married automatically sets you up to become a Stepford Wife -- or take on icky responsibilities you wouldn't have had otherwise.

And yet, when Martin fairly argues that pay inequality is holding women back, she manages to tie it back to ... marriage, writing:

When we buy into the romantic farce that is the modern-day wedding, we become complicit with patriarchal forces that seek to limit potential.

Uh ...

Of course it's icky to think that marriage used to be about "the transference of property (read: the bride) from a father to a husband." But newsflash! It's not the 18th century anymore. It's not even the middle of the 20th century, when wives were expected to do their best June Cleaver impression.

We're living in a time when both spouses working is not only more common than ever before, but NECESSARY for many households to stay afloat. On a brighter note, we're living in a time in which husbands like George Clooney, Bill Clinton, and the late Dave Goldberg have proudly supported and sung the praises of their dynamic, accomplished wives. A time when two men or two women who are in love can wed in many states. 

That said, of course being someone's wife can suck at times. If you're not with someone who was raised to respect women as equals, or if -- maybe even more commonly -- you end up assuming more domestic roles, because you make less so your job is the easier one of the two to ditch or par back on. But you can't blame the WHOLE institution of marriage for either of those scenarios. 

In fact, I'd argue that the whole insitution of marriage is the healthiest it has ever been, because women have more choices now. You can choose to leave: Being able to get a divorce and move on from an unhappy union is WONDERFUL progress for women! You can choose to be in an equal partnership. Or you could be the breadwinner, while your husband stays at home. Or vice-versa.

As Sheryl Sandberg wrote in Lean In:

When it comes time to settle down, find someone who wants an equal partner. Someone who thinks women should be smart, opinionated and ambitious. Someone who values fairness and expects or, even better, wants to do his share in the home. These men exist and, trust me, over time, nothing is sexier.

If you're horrified that getting hitched means you're forfeiting your independence, your free will, your ability to smash glass ceilings, and is a vote for convention and repressive "patriarchial forces," you're definitely underestimating men like this. Not to mention -- yourself.

Do you think marriage sets women up to fail?


Image via iStock.com/michaeljung

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