Sunday, January 09, 2005

The Truth About Marriage

On January 9th, I watched a reality program on the We channel called Bridezillas. The show documents challenges, perceived or real, that engaged couples face during the planning of their weddings. The program is usually set at a location where wedding planning is taking place, e.g. a florist, dress store, jeweler, baker, photography studio, restaurants, and at their homes. Family and friends are almost always present for close range verbal and non-verbal assaults from the bridezillas. Curiously, the couples have a wedding planner, whose job seems to be keeping the bride from killing everyone. The show attempts to capture key moments when the bridezilla becomes emotionally unstable because of stress. While the program’s characters aren’t as volatile as those seen on Mtv’s Real World, these characters provide clues as to why over 50% of marriages end in divorce. I would say the show is realistic in the sense that the attitudes of the bridezillas are not uncommon in a materialistic culture.

In a nutshell what happened on the show? There were four bridezillas.

One bridezilla became verbally abusive and physically agitated when her friend informed her of the type of dress the bridesmaids were wearing. Then later declared, “I’m a beautiful princess!” while trying on her wedding gown.

Another bridezilla was a control freak. Any deviation from her plans, personal or professional (she was a retail store manager) resulted in expletives.

The other two bridezillas didn’t do much, but this episode was only part one of two.

Now, during the program it was clear that the bridezillas were immature and narcissistic. For them marriage constitutes a high level of material well-being in which no expense or person can be spared from the demands of the bridezilla. It’s no wonder that marriages fail when impossible expectations are never achieved. It doesn’t help when the grooms on the show are effeminate and adolescent.

These kinds of personality traits will destroy a marriage. When people say their marriage vows, we never hear, “In health and not sickness, for richer and not poorer, for better and not worse.” Yet, these are the expectations people bring to marriage. “I love you as long as you earn six figures.” “I love you as long as you don’t get fat and ugly.” “I love you as long as our lovemaking is as intense and exciting as it was the first time we did it.” Such viewpoints lead to divorce.

Marriage is the lasting union of a man and a woman who agree to give and receive rights over one another for the purpose of mutual love and propagation of the next generation. In practical terms, each must be a loving servant to each other. To truly love one’s spouse is to help them attain the highest and best thing. The highest and best thing is not money, or health, or good times, or youthful appearance, even though these are all goods in themselves. The highest and best thing is heaven. Only when couples realize this and change their behaviors will the divorce rate radically decline.