Is Marriage a Statement?

Yesterday morning I experienced a first: a bridal couple beautifully portrayed, in color, in the pages of the New York Times, that I actually know. (here) It was not exactly the usual High Society affair. More New Society.

The most notable aspect of the wedding is that the bride is Jessica Valenti , the young feminist author of Full Frontal Feminism and He’s a Stud, She’s a Slut. For the record, her new husband Andrew Golis was my son Chase’s best friend in preschool. (The Times did not note this.)

So was the marriage a statement? “You come to a point where you give up on holding yourself to a perfect feminist ideal — it just feels stifling,” Ms. Valenti was quoted as saying. “You can say all you want about something, but then there’s the experience.”

In other words, no. They just fell in love.

And yet, statements are there to be read. Andrew, for example, is certainly stating that he has no problem with strong women.

Often when statements are made through weddings, they are statements that something is not so important. Money. Status. Looks. Religion. Politics. If I marry a rich woman I am not necessarily declaring that money is very important to me. But if I marry a poor woman I am certainly stating that money is not very important to me.

What, if anything, is so important that it trumps falling in love? Is there any kind of person you would not ever consider marrying?

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3 Responses to “Is Marriage a Statement?”

  1. Dan S. Says:

    I would not marry anyone that wasn’t “the one.” Conversely, she could be any kind of person as long as she’s “the one.”

    Of course, being “the one” means she has to meet all 782 criteria from my list of ideal attributes (money, status, looks, religion etc. are just the tip of the iceberg).

    Thankfully, I no longer have to search for her since we’ve been married 6+ years now.

  2. A.Y. Siu Says:

    I read Jessica Valenti’s story in the Times and thought it really sweet. I didn’t see anything antifeminist about it. I didn’t read anything about Andrew asking permission from Jessica’s dad to marry her. I didn’t read anything about Jessica taking Andrew’s surname as her own. I didn’t read anything about him proposing on bended knee.

    It seems as if Jessica and Andrew are interested in keeping the good parts of marriage (commitment and love) without all the patriarchal baggage it usually has.

    What, if anything, is so important that it trumps falling in love?
    Not ideology, certainly.

    Is there any kind of person you would not ever consider marrying?
    Definitely. Too many kinds to list. Luckily, I don’t have to worry about it (and neither does my wife).

  3. Jemima Aslana Says:

    Yes, even I fell in love, I could not live with (nor marry) a special needs person. Reason? I’m an Aspie and thus special needs myself. Compromising my own special needs is extremely stressful and destructive (I’ve tried that before when I lived at home with my folks) and unless I should come across someone whose needs match my own 100% I couldn’t live with them. It’s hard enough to live with my neurotypical boyfriend, who does the best he can to accomodate my needs. Anyone who, like me, can’t just compromise here and there would be completely incompatible with me in a live-in situation. Because let’s face it – love, however fantastic, doesn’t take out the trash, clean the bathroom, cook dinner, nor keep track of the calendar for you.

    Other than that. Yeah, there’s one other kind of person I wouldn’t consider. The kind who doesn’t follow up when I tell him we need to talk something over. I’ve loved a couple of those before, and things fell apart because they didn’t understand nor consider that when I need to talk about stuff it means I NEED to talk about stuff. So if there are any indicators in that direction we may as well stop the ‘ship’ then and there.

    Generally, I don’t want to marry anyone at all, ever. So my criteria were just as much for any live-in partner, really.

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