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Don't Disparage Love and Marriage

6 years ago
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Frank Sinatra sang it best: "Love and marriage, love and marriage, go together like a horse and carriage. This I tell you brother, you can't have one without the other....Try, try, try to separate them. It's an illusion."

Love and marriage. Weddings and white dresses. Flower girls and first dances. Church bells and pronouned man and wife.

Love and marriage are the great narratives of our lives, and I never tire of reading about them. When Jill's and Bonnie's debate over the "Modern Love" section of the New York Times expanded to a debate over the wedding section, I joined them in admitting to reading the weddings every Sunday -- both the New York Times and the Washington Post. So, I'll take public admission a step further:

I have never been married, and I WANT to fall in love and get married. There, I said it.

Now here come the calls and emails from my girlfriends saying that I have just ruined any chances of getting married. From the many lectures by married friends over the years, you'd think the only barrier to getting married is having men KNOW that you want to get married because they can "smell desperation." It's the ultimate Catch-22.

Statistics show that 95 percent of Americans get married at some point in their lives. So I've never understood why saying openly that I want a traditional nuclear family is seen in a negative light. Just mentioning in public that I want a family -- husband, children, home -- elicits gasps and looks around as if I just confessed to murder and have the body in my trunk. If I were to say that I never wanted to get married and don't want children, would I get less emotional reactions?

Why does a girl have to hide this very normal desire for fear of scaring off potential husbands? Polls show that married people are consistently happier than singles (in all income brackets), so doesn't it make more sense to want to be married?

And to pre-empt the comments that I sound like one of the Real Housewives, I do not want to get married just to BE married. I want to find the right guy to have a stable, happy, joyful marriage and family.

And, no, I don't want to get married because of a fairy tale fantasy of the wedding itself. I learned that lesson from a near-miss engagement during which I focused more on bridesmaids dresses than the disastrous relationship. And, like everyone, I want to get married one time, so I'm very careful in my selection process.

I'm not a hopeless romantic, I'm a hopeful romantic who believes in marriage and family. So, my pleasure in reading the wedding narratives in the Sunday papers is in the hope that there is happily every after. Admittedly, women's jealousy comes out in the so-called "sports pages" as we compare ourselves to the bride's schools, jobs, ages, parents, husband and photo. There's also the Times snarky insistence on putting the disclaimer at the end when the bride or groom's "previous marriage ended in divorce." I always wondered why the editors do that -- is there a newsworthy aspect other than embarrassment?

And on those occasional weeks when I find the announcement of a friend or acquaintance, it's like the Easter Bunny left me a big basket of Cadbury eggs. This past Sunday, the Easter Bunny left me the biggest basket of all: an announcement in the Washington Post that it was starting to expand its wedding section.

I love the NYT Weddings section so much, I think the paper can make up its falling revenue by selling just the wedding section alone. Spending $6 on the Sunday NYT will make me try to search Starbucks for a discarded wedding section. So, if I could buy the wedding section for $1, I'd have home-delivery .

(Yes, I know the weddings are free to read on-line, but then I can't assess placement, and would miss the delicious fun of seeing the perceived social or financial power of the couple or their parents. BTW, I wish USA Today would sell the purple print section -- aka Life Section -- separately for airplane reading.)

As for the debate over wedding sections, date lab and love stories taking up too much space, I'd vote for dumping the Vows section because it tries too hard. The column strains to find the most unlikely and eccentric couple, which is more mocking the romance than enjoying it. I'm still annoyed the Times added how the couples met to the announcements -- seriously, how many times can we read about chance encounters in elevators and on subways?

So I'm going to hold the line that there is nothing wrong with wanting to get married and start a family. Sinatra -- who loved getting married so much he did it four times -- also sang: "Dad was told by Mother, 'You can't have one without the other.'"

Follow me on Twitter: EmilyMiller_DC

Filed Under: Woman Up

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