Why We Need to Get Rid of the Idea of Gender Roles in Marriage

By Taylor Blasko

I want to talk about something that sort of by its nature makes it political, but at the same time I’m not trying to comment on anything political. I’m merely just trying to suggest that the beliefs and lifestyle that I’m trying to talk about is problematic, at least to me it is. Some people might call it a “conservative” lifestyle or a “conservative” view, but I want to stay away from making those sweeping generalizations.  I just want to talk about the people that fall into this category —whether we call it conservative or not. I want to talk about getting married young and merely for the sake of getting married.

I’ve heard many people, generally of a more religious background, express that they are looking for someone that they could imagine being their husband. It seems they are only on the hunt for a husband. They are husband hunting. Husband searching. That’s all it becomes about. Who can fit the role that husbands are supposed to fit. But what does that mean? And what does that mean for the person doing the husband hunting? Do they have any desire to get to know somebody, or would they rather just find a person they know will settle down with them right away and do the husband things while they do the wife things. And what does that mean?

My other problem here are the countless blogs that I keep seeing on the internet titled something along the lines of, “Why Marriage Doesn’t Work.” And I feel like the root of this issue is because you have a bunch of kids out there being told that they should look for someone with the “husband qualities” or the “wife qualities.” What does that mean? That man and woman have to fit into the gender normative roles of the 1950’s? Women should clean the house, men should have jobs and bring in the money? That’s a prime example of why marriage doesn’t work. And when we keep telling young adults to look for these certain qualities we aren’t doing them any favors.

I feel like for my friends that I see on the “husband hunt” they are only looking for that person that their parents have told them fit the mold. And it’s always the heterosexual gender mold, mind you, never any room for anything else. And they get so transfixed on looking for that person who will be the “perfect husband” that they forget to get to know the person. It becomes about bringing this guy around the family to have them approve of him —to make sure he fits the mold. Once he passes the test you go through the motions and you get married.

Let’s stop here. This is crazy to me. There is such a sharp shift in viewpoint from high school to college. In high school it’s always something like, don’t have sex before marriage, don’t go around the boys, stay away from them. Because that’s a good idea right? Keep all of the hormonal teenagers separated so that when they eventually do come in contact with each other they have no idea what’s going on with their own bodies. Right. Good. Smart. But then when these people go to college they get pushed to get married right away and get on the husband hunt ASAP. And you know why that is? I think it all boils down to not having sex before marriage. I feel like these specific people that I’m referring to (by no means everyone, again I don’t want to generalize) but they just go get married so that they can have sex. And then what happens? Now that they waited until after marriage they have sex, but they aren’t allowed to use protection so then they get married before they even graduate college. Then probably end up dropping out…some not all, again.

But my problem here is the expectation that that’s what’s supposed to happen. You find the “correct” type of guy to husband up, or “correct” girl to wife up, and then you live happily ever after? Except my problem with that is that I feel like these people don’t even take the time to know each other. Don’t get me wrong, I’m commenting on this specific type of person and this specific type of life. This isn’t me commenting on people who chose to get married at a young age. It can be completely different. If you have a relationship and a friendship with someone, by all means, get married. Personally, I think marriage is a fake construct anyway. If you are happy with someone you should live your lives together. If you feel so inclined you can sign the documents to make yourselves legally bound to each other, but at that point who cares. If you know you love the person, then love them. Marriage isn’t always necessary. And I think it’s because as a society we look at it as necessary which is why so many people think marriage doesn’t work.

It’s because they expect things to change. They expect to find the right “type” of husband and when they sign the paper they expect things to change. They expect to fall into some type of pre-set role that they have been destined to do since the dawn of time or something. When really that’s all just a fabrication for what we have made marriage out to be in the media and what not. This is why I have such a problem with not living with someone before you marry them. Why do we keep ourselves ignorant? No sex before marriage, don’t live with them before marriage, don’t even get to know them…until marriage and then SURPRISE, you’ll see if it works out in the long run later, don’t worry about it now. Communication seems to be second tier in this type of expectation. How can you possibly know the other person if you don’t simulate what your lives will be like together on a daily basis? How can you possible know each other at your bests and at your worsts? How do you know if you have the  mental capacity to deal with someone when they are being bitchy and having a bad day and vice versa? You don’t, I don’t think. So why do we push the idea to keep ourselves ignorant? Why are we setting ourselves up for failure? I don’t get it.

And this isn’t me commenting on people who consciously chose this. If you want to wait to have sex until you’re married, awesome. If you want to wait to live with the person until you’re married, that’s cool too. But no one should feel obligated to do certain things just because everyone before us has been telling you that’s the “proper” way. And also, maybe have a friendship with a significant other before you decide to marry them? You know just so you don’t find out later, after you’re married, that they’re a terrible human being…just a thought. Cue the cliche —communication is key.

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