I came across a funny article today. Apparently, Michelle Duggar-the chick who’s had so many kids that she had to learn to walk on her hands to keep them from falling out-shared her tips for maintaining a happy marriage. I have to confess that I’ve never seen her reality show and only know of her because I see people talking about her on Facebook. [Like any true, red-blooded American, most of what I know comes from Facebook status updates, shared links, and photos of Jon Stewart with his insightful quotes superimposed next to his strikingly handsome face… sigh… where was I?] All I know is she has a bunch of children, like three times as many as I do, and that alone makes me think she’s a little off her rocker. I mean, if you can’t shut the assembly line down, bolt the damn doors, right? But that’s just me, and if she and the sperm fountain are able to care for all of the kids and they’re all happy, it’s none of my business. I’ve heard quite a few women expressing disgust and disdain for Mrs. Duggar, claiming she needs to stop having children and shouldn’t have had so many; it confuses me a little that many of these women are the same ones who are up in arms over others trying to regulate birth control and abortion. Aren’t the right to bear children and the right not to bear them two sides of the same coin? Anyway, I digress. The article, right?
Apparently, Mrs. Duggar’s secrets to a happy marriage aren’t really secrets. They’re straight out of the How To Give Up Your Autonomy and Be Your Man’s Bitch Guide to a Happy Marriage, on the shelves at major retailers now, not that you’ll ever see it because you’re not allowed to leave the house off your leash and when you go into bookstores, you’re only allowed to sit patiently while Hubby Dear browses the porn and bibles.
Seriously, though, I’m not here to trash the way anyone lives, especially consenting adults in a committed relationship. I’d be a hypocrite, advocating for gay marriage on the basis that marriage and love are private matters, and then saying yeah, unless you’re these Stepford freaks.
The Duggars claim to live by the rules that Mrs. Duggar outlines, but nobody knows what their relationship is really like. I mean honestly, I know a lot of people who claim to live by a set of Christian rules, but they’re anything but when they think nobody’s looking. The issue I have isn’t with the Duggars, but with the rules themselves.
Keeping yourself in good physical shape and trying to look attractive aren’t negative things. It doesn’t hurt to fix yourself up once in a while like you did when you were dating… you’re still people, after all. The idea, however, that you’re somehow less of a wife if you don’t dress and wear your hair in a way that your husband decides is most flattering is just ridiculous. That’s a hell of a burden to put on a guy. Is he really supposed to pay that much attention?
I cut several inches off my hair a few weeks ago. When beloved got home, I asked him how it looked. “Awesome!” he said, “You look beautiful.” This is his standard answer, and he usually issues it without taking his eyes off of whatever electronic screen he’s focused on at the the time. “You didn’t even notice I cut it, did you?” I asked. “Nope,” he replied, cheerfully honest.
Dudes don’t care, okay? Wash your hair, don’t run around in holey sweatpants all the time, and I can just about promise that when he looks at you, he sees the same woman you were when you started dating. Beloved told me once-I hope this doesn’t get me in trouble, sharing this-that my skin could turn orange and all my hair could fall out and he wouldn’t even notice, because he loves me. That, darlings, is a sign of a good man-not a guy who believes that your wardrobe reflects your love for him. That’s called being a self-centered prick.
Some of the rules were kind of scary. Financial dependence is a sign of love? Yeah, no. I don’t think so. A wife should always submit to her husbands physical desires? He might as well keep you in a box under the bed. A guy who expects you to submit to his physical desires whether you like it or not isn’t a husband, he’s a rapist, no matter it what it says on your marriage certificate.
According to Mrs. Duggar’s rules, a woman shouldn’t consult anyone for advice or guidance without talking to her husband first. Makes things easy for the guy, right? The little missus can’t even ask anyone if it’s normal for her husband to demand a blow job even when she’s doubled over with morning sickness, without checking with him first. She can’t talk about normal marital stresses without asking Mr. Goodguy first. People need friends to talk to outside the marriage. Beloved really is my best friend, but having other good friends to talk to when he’s driving me crazy keeps me from flipping my shit on him, and I know that works both ways. Getting outside advice and counsel is good for a marriage; no one should have to bear the burden of being the only person someone else has.
What I loved about the rules, though, was the section about the man making sure his wife knows what her marital responsibilities are. That’s where I started laughing. Shortly after I read it, beloved was looking for a box that had been in the library forever.
“What are you looking for?”
“That white box with the CD frame thingies for the wall in it. It was here the other day.”
“I put it in our room,” I said. “I was cleaning. I do that once in a while.”
“Ohhhh,” says beloved.
“See, the problem is, you didn’t make my marital responsibilities clear, so I wasn’t sure where to put the box. That’s why the laundry gets behind, too. I never know when to do it.”
“I’ll make a list while I’m at work tonight,” says beloved. “Send me that article, okay?”
I’m not sure whether smacking his ass is part of the rules, but I did it anyway.
“It’s going to be a short list, isn’t it?” I asked him.
“Only one thing on it, right?”
“That’s it,” said beloved, and we fell over giggling and hugging and I sent him off to work, and I’m still in his baggy green sweater and holey jeans, and the dishes are half-done, my hair’s in a ponytail and I couldn’t begin to guess which of us will make more money than the other this month. He just sent me a text that he’s on his way home, and that he loves me. When he gets here, I’ll warm up his dinner while he walks the dog, and then we’ll check on the kids, snuggle up with a movie and be grateful to have each other.
And those, babes, are the secrets to a happy marriage, as far as I can tell.