The XX Factor

Why Is Marriage Something That Has To Be Survived, Anyway?

There’s a slide show up on today called ” 10 Marriages That Survived the Decade Better Than Tiger’s ,” and I think it’s partially intended to be a sincere attempt at an uplifting counterpoint to the bad rap the Tiger Woods saga gives conjugal life. Of course, the majority of the 10 couples featured are celebrities-the Clintons, Jay-Z and Beyonce-i.e., the most unlikely candidates for monogamy to begin with. Then there’s Pam and Jim of The Office (Really? Esquire can’t even find ten whole non-fictionalized pairings?) and Trista and Ryan of Bachelor fame (who, remember, received a fat paycheck for their televised vows). Also on the list: Vili Fualaau and Mary Kay Letourneau, the couple who began their love affair when Vili was a 12-year-old student and Mary his thirtysomething teacher (they tied the knot after Mary finished up her seven-year sentence as a sex offender). By these examples, it seems like your best bet for attaining the blissful, shared life is if you’re 1) part of a fictional couple, 2) an exhibitionist without a shame gene, or 3) totally messed in the head. Awesome.

Of course that’s not how it is. Or at least I hope it’s not. But it seems like the only views of marriage that the media affords us are either fearmongering service pieces in favor of it (Examples: Marry Him ! and, uh, every romantic comedy) or fearmongering pieces about the overwhelming difficulty and hardship of it. Case in point: articles that view marriages in terms of “survival” like the slide show above. And in either case, marriage is positioned more as a social imperative than an activity worth undertaking for actual enjoyment. The confluence of the two views is the basic idea behind every Apatow movie ever made-marriage is going to be real sucky and probably no fun (and in Apatow’s oeuvre, it’s because women are no fun), but it’s just what you have to do for some reason, you know, instead of smoking pot and masturbating to Internet porn for the rest of your life. I’m stepping on my soapbox a bit here-but I’d really like to see an article/movie/book that simply depicts marriage as something two people do because it’s fun and because they want to, and, more importantly, something that doesn’t choke them within an inch of life 10 years later. Something that doesn’t require survival .

So, on that: Does someone want to buy the film rights to my parents’ lovely union?