Thursday, April 23, 2009

The sanctity of marriage in the columns of 'Dear Prudence'

-Case one: A girlfriend describes a generally happy relationship with her live-in boyfriend, but wishes he were a bit more excited about doing chores, and were generally a bit more motivated. Prudie's response? "This is also why I have qualms about people who are so young moving to together. Have you two decided that you are making a lifetime commitment? Or is living together just more convenient?"

First off: nothing in the question suggests either party is "so young" - she works and is in school and says she is "working for a future"; he works, but not with much enthusiasm. That could make them 18 or 38. Also, in terms of "convenience", isn't that one of the reasons people are encouraged to marry, that living in a couple is more convenient? It's not the main or the only reason to pair off, but it's a reason for both official and unofficial couplings.

If what Prudie disapproves of isn't cohabitation, but youthful impulsivity, shouldn't the age of the couple be established before the living situation denounced? Guess not: "Instead of figuring out how to get him to clean up the house, you need to use this period to figure out why you two are playing house."

Good grief. "Playing house"? Adult couples who live together are not 'pretending' to do anything. I'm quite sure I cooked an actual dinner last night, and that my boyfriend - unprompted - washed the actual dishes that resulted.

While I agree with Prudie that cohabitation isn't marriage, it's also worth remembering that neither is 'forever' in our society. Which brings us to...

-Case two: A man describes his "unhappy marriage (which we're trying to work out)", and his Ambien-fueled black-out sex with a sexually forward acquaintance. Prudie's advice? Tell the other woman to stop calling. And, as for the spouse: "And since you don't know what you did, you're hardly in a position to confess anything to your wife."

First off: STDs, hello? This should always be a concern, but especially when the sex was during a fugue state, and when the person it was with calls up later in a way that suggests that casual sex with strangers is kind of her thing. Even if Ambien excuses the moral aspects of cheating, it is not to my knowledge a magical shield against diseases that could well be passed on to someone's wife. Or, for that matter, against getting Miss Acquaintance pregnant - what if she initiated sex with Mr. Sleepy in order to get a hold of some sperm? Or if she didn't want that, but Mr. Sleepy was a bit lax with condom usage, as I'd imagine unconscious people would be?

But the broader question here is why Prudie does not for a moment suggest the guy end his marriage. Is it because of his parenthetical, "which we're trying to work out"? No children are mentioned, so it can't be that. Is it because it's Marriage, which must be respected? On the one hand, I agree completely that, in an ideal world, things should have to go much worse in a marriage for it to end than they would need to in a different relationship. But things sound so much worse for Mr. and Mrs. Sleepy than for Ms. Dishes and her live-in beau. What Prudie should have done is given her stock 'how to get your husband to do chores' answer to the live-ins, and given her stock 'maybe consider leaving' advice to the marrieds. Just a thought.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

re your last post.

There's some ironies of the whole foods debate.

Processed foods - genetic manipulated foods etc - we once liberal.

Henry Wallace - FDR's left VP (before Truman) was essentially the pioneer of the whole agro-industry.

Following the French Rev and the Russian Rev - religious orders (conservative by definition)
were driven off lands they had been farming for centuries - making everything from wine to brandy to you name it.

Modernisation was a big part of the justification (as well as sorts of other claims)

But somewhere along the way fast food became associated with Americana and nostalgia

(which is really ironic - but look at pretty pictures of rural life on your corporate made milk)

Gunlock and other rightist just don't care that much -- I know the type well - And I was once the same way when my crunchy lefty (French studies) hemp-necklace wearinggirlfriend
after college started hectoring and trying to 'evolve' me into eating healthy and natural foods and I rebelled by pretending to believe
corporate lobbying propaganda and pointing out that many health food store workers looked weak and unhealthy.

So it's all socio-political - not really
about real politics.