What We Mean When We Say Marriage Is ‘Work’ by A. Calhoun
From (Link): the studies I’ve seen, it’s actually women who bear the brunt of the “emotional labor” that this author who is interviewed for this is talking about.
What these studies and articles say is that many men often expect emotional support from women but refuse to provide it in return. That has certainly been true for me with men I’ve known, including male friends and my ex.
The author interviewed in this actually has the audacity to say that marriage makes people more mature and so on – the same view a lot of Christians put forth in their podcasts, sermons, articles and so on about marriage. No, marriage is not necessary to make people better, more mature, etc – see my list here of (Link): married people who are immature or unethical.
…. Marriage, by this popular analogy, is a job. You work at it. If you succeed, you reap rewards. If you fail, you are fired or quit. This model makes sense to our capitalist brains. We like to be set a chore and to be paid for its completion. But de Marneffe argues that this is a terrible way to think about the actual work required by marriage.
“The work isn’t drudgery,” she says. “The work is staying vulnerable.” A key challenge of any long-term relationship is finding the strength to engage emotionally while getting through the day:
I have to go to work, and then I have to cook, and then I have to care about you too? Ugh. Who among us has not had a grueling 3 a.m. conversation with a partner that they would gladly trade for 40 hours of manual labor? I would rather clean the bathroom. I would rather paint a house.
And yet, de Marneffe says, if you want to be a good partner you really should listen when your husband objects to your booby-trapping the freezer.
“I think people are shocked that they actually have to keep caring about this person, about how they feel,” de Marneffe says. And she often sees clients failing to make time and space to remember who they are and what they want — and then off-loading their disappointments in life onto their partners: I’d be doing great/rich/having so much fun if it weren’t for you.
While projection is common at any age, de Marneffe says this approach’s fallout can become more toxic as the years pass, with midlife a common crisis point. “All of life has limits,” she says. “Every decision has trade-offs. Every gain has a loss. I need to construct a life that’s meaningful and works for me. And that’s always going to involve loss, and there are always going to be things I give up. It’s not just that marriage makes you give things up.Life makes you give things up.”
…That The Rough Patch feels so radical suggests that hashing things out is not as on-trend right now as the pursuit of inner peace — what de Marneffe calls the “commercialized aura of pseudo-enlightenment.”
Marital self-help books often prioritize calmness and order. Troubleshooting. Making lists. Learning tricks like that old standard: “I” statements instead of accusations. (Instead of, “You suck!” try, “When you forget to pick the kids up, I feel that you suck.”) Optimizing output. Being a better employee. “I do feel that so much of psychological writing now — and a lot of it comes out of academic studies of happiness — really does make people feel sort of inadequate: Why aren’t I adopting better habits?” she says. “As if it’s that straightforward … My goal is to give people the permission to be complicated.”
To be emotionally integrated adults, much less happily married people, we must stop believing that the “work” is buckling down. De Marneffe tells us to reject the notion that midlife is a “pale, mediocre stretch of decades” during which “you just put one foot in front of the other” and “suck it up.” It turns what should be a joyful, intimate experience into a slog — and it doesn’t always work for long. Repressed emotions tend to reassert themselves, usually at the worst possible times.
What feels perhaps most radical is de Marneffe’s reclamation of the work involved in marriage as creative and worthy. With the stigma gone from sex, cohabiting, and child-rearing outside marriage, plenty of people wonder why they should even bother making a lifetime commitment. De Marneffe has an answer: “Marriage,” she writes inThe Rough Patch, “is the crucible for becoming a more mature, compassionate person.”
Still, she doesn’t believe divorce is always a bad decision. “I do not want to come down on the side of marriage at all costs,” she says. “Some divorces are better marriages than marriages are.” She does, however, encourage couples in crisis not to indulge in the sort of “I gotta be free!” hero stories that so often lead to divorce via clichéd off-ramps (e.g., a patient in The Rough Patch who could have traded “her boiled-wool coat for some love beads, and ended up living with her mediations teacher in a yurt”). “We don’t develop ourselves,” de Marneffe writes, “by casting off relationships we’ve done little to change.”
(Link): The Selfish, Lazy Husband Who Kept Blowing Off His Stressed Wife to Go on World War 2 Reenactments – Male Entitlement in Relationships: Why Women Divorce Men – and Churches and Culture Support This Male Entitlement