Predictable outcry in the right wing press. Divorce rates at an all time high and those tying the knot at a low. Among the many other gifts the recession has brought us, here is the marital offering. But like all the other bad gifts we’ve been complicit in the making, to some extent.
The throwaway culture of spend now and worry later. Everything has become a commodity including relationships. The decline in folk settling down together for the rest of their lives has faced a pincer movement. On the one hand there is what I consider liberal progress (The Daily Mail will opt for the degredation of the sanctity of marriage or some other schtick). Divorce has become socially normal, as has women waiting til their late twenties or thirties to find their dreamboat and have a couple of sprogs.
This is good for all people in (at times) violently unhappy relationships. Even relationships that are just bitter through and through. (Do you think the kids enjoy that supportive, loving environment?) Women have been empowered to question hubby’s behaviour. They’re nolonger expected to be stoical and turn a blind eye when he gets the seven year itch and starts getting frisky with the other woman. Adultery is not a new thing. People just talk about it now.
On the other hand the relationship has become another product we examine for faults. We check back with the picture in the catalogue and worry ours doesn’t look quite so shiney. Men expect their sexual partner to be neatly shaven, good at oral and open to new things. Women get together with girlfriends and discuss whether or not their fella is y’know ‘the one’, ‘a soulmate’ (no pressure, buddy, you just need to be better than everyone else). Both sides analyse the flawed human they share a bed with and wonder if they measure up to expectations. We’re encouraged to spend stupid amounts of money on The Big Day, as though this can guarantee happiness.
And then you add on the new poop hitting the fan. Unemployment rates are soaring. Most ‘normal folk’ have at least a few Ks of debt on their shoulders. The news is unrelentingly miserable. Not many people are capable of being sensible in times like these. When we get depressed we spend money we don’t have on shit we don’t need. We turn to booze or stronger things to take the edge off. We act selfishly because it will temporarily lift our mood. Then the consequences happen.
It’s possible to theorise that men and women are just not compatible under pressure. As though we really are from different planets. But we’re not. We’re all human. Anyone who knows people in same sex relationships will know the same shit happens. The same problems, the same niggles. One side nags, the other side rebels. Sun rise, sun set.
But we’re all at fault here. The Daily Mail can cry foul on the part of the liberals spreading equal rights around like STDs. But they’re the ones repeatingly attacking Mrs Celebrity for still having that lumpy bumpy baby body 6 months after childbirth. (Vilify her! It’s as though she cares more for her child than for whether or not Joe Public still thinks she’s hot stuff.) In the past men didn’t expect their wives to still look like ‘Cheryl’ after the first few kids. Now it seems okay for them to say “Oh, you’ve let yourself go a bit, love”.
So a few seemingly obvious tips for real relationships –
…Porn isn’t real. Most people have sexual hang ups and peculiar bodies. Get over it.
…If you put a relationship under a microscope you will find cracks. Keep things in perspective. A man leaving the toilet seat up, or a person of either sex having a few pints after work with their mates doesn’t equal relationship fail. Compulsive lying and adultery, domestic violence or painfully oppressive co-dependence probably do. Some people are just bad for each other.
…Neither of you will likely resemble Brad and Angelina now, much less in twenty years time. The great joy of finding proper silly love should be the freedom to grow plump and happy and wrinkly together.
…It’s okay to cut & run if you know it’s not working for whatever reason. Experiencing being single and independent is important for your personal growth. So long as you found your reasons in your gut, not in the pages of Glamour magazine.
…Your partner was not designed by Steve Jobs. They may contain imperfections. Statistically PC owners have more patience and are probably more capable of contentment.
Over & owt.
Post-script… I don’t actually ‘believe in marriage’, but that’s a whole other rant…