Recently, I’ve begun to notice some changes in how men and women view marriage later on in life as opposed to how they viewed it when we were in our twenties. I can recall being fresh out of college, wide eyed and expectantly waiting for the next stage of my life. For me, like most young women, that meant marriage.
I, like many of my friends who were of the female persuasion, spent countless hours pouring over bridal magazines, researching reception sites, wandering through craft stores in an attempt to get some ideas for centerpieces and favors, and even trying on dresses as though we were already engaged. One friend in particular actually purchased a wedding gown before she met the man she was going to marry, so certain was she that the dress she found was “the one.”
Our male counterparts, on the other hand, spent their days avoiding anything at all to do with marriage. In fact, most of them avoided any discussion of marriage as though the mere mention of the word would cause their favorite appendage to fall off. Some of them commonly referred to the institution as antiquated and not for them, even hinting that monogamy went against their most primal urge to repopulate the earth with as many offspring as possible. One more than one occasion, I distinctly heard a young man (who had taken the plunge) refer to his wife as “the old ball and chain.”
What twenty-something man, after hearing that statement, would have any desire to be married?
Then something happens. One by one, these men lose the battle against marriage. One by one, they each walk down the aisle and pledge their love and fidelity to their bride, not knowing what the future will bring, but unwilling to lose the woman walking toward them in the white dress.
Flash forward to twenty years later…
Some of these marriages have remained in tact and some have fallen apart. What I find interesting is that despite the current status of their marriage, when asked if they’d “do it all again,” men and women, generally speaking, have very different responses. More often than not, it is the women who answers with a resounding “NO!” Even “Hell, no!” Whereas the men grin widely, then vehemently and enthusiastically nod their heads in the affirmative.
Ever wonder why that is? Why is it that two people who had pretty much the same experience wind up with such differing opinions as to whether or not they’d do it all again?
Well, you know me. I’ve come up with a theory: WIVES ARE AWESOME!
Mind boggling, huh? But seriously. Wives. Are. Awesome.
Just ask any man who has one or who has had one in the past.
From the moment the vows are said and rings are exchanged, all the little things that they used to worry about, all the details that make a household run, simply…vanish. See, this is what Wife does.
Allow me to explain.
From the moment Husband wakes up in the morning, practically every detail is taken care of for him. He takes a shower. His favorite shampoo is there on the shelf, simply waiting for him to use it. He steps out of the shower and wraps himself in a towel that is clean and fresh. He dresses himself in clothes that have been laundered and pressed for him, then steps into the kitchen for a cup of coffee, which was prepped the night before and set to begin brewing in the morning at just the right time.
Let’s say he goes to the bathroom and then reaches for the toilet paper. It is there on the roll, just waiting for him to use it. Now, of course men can buy the toilet paper but it is the wife who puts in on the roll because – let’s face it – the mechanical aspect of removing the empty roll and replacing with a new one has confused the modern man for YEARS!
But I digress….
Throughout the day, there are countless items that have been prepared by Wife in order to eliminate the need for Husband to have to think about. In some cases, it is so extreme that Husband can simply ask a question about a random item of clothing, pair of shoes, or an odd piece of paper and Wife will respond in kind with the items exact location.
Sure enough, Wife is correct.
I’m not sure why this entire process happens and I won’t even try to explain it. I will, however, tell you that, in my experience, men come to cherish, even rely upon this set up. So much so that after divorcing, it is the Husband who remarries quickly, finding that the marriage he once avoided is something he doesn’t want to live without. It seems Husband has gotten so dependent on the “being taken care of” aspect of marriage that he can’t wait to dive back into the marriage pool.
Women, on the other hand, begin to cherish their independence and fill their minds with the things they didn’t have time to do before because their minds were already full with taking care of their households. Now, often times for the first time ever, Wives find they have time to actually take care of themselves, a foreign concept to most, after having spent years caring for everyone else. Even my own mother has yet to remarry, still relishing her independence and autonomy whereas my father was remarried within a year of divorcing.
Is this a bad thing? Maybe. Maybe not. In my father’s situation, he remarried quickly and is still married to my stepmother, a wonderful woman, to this day. Both of them are quite happy.
What I can tell you is that for every happy ending like my father’s, there are countless other men who have leapt into a second marriage without even considering what went wrong with the first marriage. And this does not bode well for anyone involved.
And take my mother. She is very happy living by herself but for every woman like my mother who is happy being independent, alone but not lonely, there are countless women who find themselves in the same situation but aren’t happy.
So what’s the answer? I’m going to have to stay right in the middle on this one and say that I think it varies for every person. If you were to ask me “Will you ever marry again?” what would I say?
Well, I would ponder the question for a moment, then grin at you and say, “Sure! If I can find myself a wife!”
Donna Small is the author of two novels, Just Between Friends and A Ripple in the Water. Both are available from Second Wind Publishing. She lives in Clemmons, NC with her two daughters where she is at work on her next novel.