Thursday, November 7, 2013

“Marriage Isn’t For You” Strikes Some Really Selfish Nerves

And another blog post – “Marriage Isn’t For You” by Seth Adam Smith – has gone viral.

With that title, you might think you understand why it caused controversy and generated scorn. But the actual message of the blog is really quite beautiful.

It turns out that, by the time Smith and his wife started dating, they were already “best friends” and had everything going for them in the relationship department. Yet he still started freaking out the closer they go to marriage, asking himself questions like, “Would she make me happy?”

Thanks to some wise words from his father, he finally realized that “marriage isn’t for you.” It’s about so much more. “You don’t marry to make yourself happy, you marry to make someone else happy. More than that, your marriage isn’t for yourself, you’re marrying for a family… for your future children. Who do you want to help you raise them? Who do you want to influence them? Marriage isn’t for you. It’s not about you. Marriage is about the person you married.”

He says, “My father’s advice was both shocking and revelatory. It went against the grain of today’s ‘Walmart philosophy’, which is if it doesn’t make you happy, you can take it back and get a new one.”

He can say that again, judging by the responses he got. While some were overwhelmingly positive, there were plenty of others that read like the following Twitter statuses (stati?):

“I Guess Your Marriage Isn’t for Me – Jennifer Twardowski” and “Has anyone else read the ‘marriage isn’t for me’ article + thought he SHOULD be more selfish? Am I missing the point?”

The answer is yes. If you come to that conclusion, you are “missing the point.” So is Yahoo’s Elise Solé, who paradoxically wrote a follow-up article, “Why Man’s ‘Marriage Isn’t For You’ Essay Misses the Mark.” Solé cites expert psychologists and national polls to prove that being selfish is ok to some degree, pointing out how “women do the lion’s share of chores and childcare” and therefore can’t be expected to give any more than they already do.

She even ponders whether Smith is suggesting that abused women should ask for more abuse. But there’s no need to go all outraged feminist on him. There’s really no need to criticize at all.

First off, Smith is a man talking about how marriage isn’t all about him. Isn’t that what feminists have been demanding for centuries? He never once mentions what his wife can do for him.

Secondly, he writes about “true marriage” and “true love.” True marriage doesn’t involve being smacked around. And true love sometimes knows that staying isn’t what the loved one needs.

Finally, we live in a world filled with people who don’t stop to consider other’s feelings, so much so that they dress up as Boston Marathon bombing victims or NYC’s Twin Towers burning or Halloween, then act surprised when they’re not well-received.

We’re that selfish! And that selfishness isn’t doing us any favors.

Society is filled with broken lives leading to broken marriages leading to more broken lives, in large part because everybody is trying to make themselves happy and not caring nearly enough about the people around them.

We really should consider Seth Adam Smith’s advice and try something new for a change.

I mean, what do we have to lose, other than our selfish selves?

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