If this week taught us anything, Internet, it’s that women – in spite of changing attitudes about marriage-as-default-adult-setting – are still obsessed with getting engaged. I don’t blame the women who feel that way for feeling that way, because as I acknowledged in my post about Stephanie Smith’s 300 Sandwiches project, women have long been conditioned to feel that “getting” a man to marry us is an achievement. That it is something that we are the architects of. That we are responsible for wooing or convincing or bribing or begging men to please, please, please, please marry us. Sometimes we even force men to marry us by pressuring them unduly or giving them relationship ultimatums that end in either marriage or a break-up. This dynamic is all over our media and our stories, so of course many of us who have swallowed this narrative continue to spit it back out.
Women and men alike have been programmed to believe that toxic relationships are the norm, that men should be resistant to marriage and that women should want nothing more than to tie the knot, that it’s natural to enter this kind of life-altering, seriously binding union under duress, and that finding a relationship that leads naturally to marriage or – gasp! – is long-term and committed without resulting in marriage is as likely as finding a leprechaun riding a unicorn. And that’s why, in addition to seeing blogs about making sandwiches to keep a man, you’ll see engagement announcements that look like this:
I’m not going to bother to break down all of the imagery and verbiage on this faux-magazine cover for you, because I know you can do that yourself. I will, however, note that it’s no coincidence this woman chose a magazine cover-style announcement (and obviously she and she alone orchestrated this whole shoot/print) because this is all the stuff magazines have been teaching us for decades brought to grotesque life.
In short, there’s nothing to be proud of here, but don’t blame yourself for feeling or having felt like you need to make a man commit. Just know that “making” someone do anything they don’t really want to do is only going to hurt you in the end, and be aware that love should be given freely, not by force. Read this article about misguided happily ever afters, and stop focusing on marriage as a goal (if you’re still single that is). If you’re already married and are in a relationship where you’re having to “force” or “make” your husband to do all kinds of things, seek counseling immediately to see if you guys can change your behavior patterns, or get ready to print your hilarious divorce party invites.