Thursday, February 25, 2010
What if he can’t give you the platinum fairytale wedding? Do you pass him up and wait for a man who can? Has it all come down to the wedding? I think that it has to a certain degree. Women (many of them) seem to be falling in love with the idea of the wedding day itself, as much as with the men that they claim to want to spend the rest of their lives with. This is at least part of the reason why half of all marriages in this Country fail. They often aren’t based on anything real to begin with.
I guess I’m a little old fashioned. I though marriages and weddings were supposed to be based on real love. I guess that went out of style at some point. It must have. Because weddings have now turned into huge gluttonous events, where the bride gets to show off for her friends. That’s basically what weddings (and now even marriages) have become. You get the sense that they all have a competition going where one is trying to outdo the other.
A recent blog posting by the Field Negro (Philly Attorney), entitled The Power of the Bling, led me to write on this topic. The subject of his post was very similar - the venality & superficiality of women, particularly when it comes to the ring. Of course my response was a little hardcore, but it was painfully true. We are living in a society that is growing more and more shallow by the day. Money and material things are increasing in importance for many women. Most women are Gold Diggers or have the tendencies of same to some degree (and this varies). Sorry ladies. Love ya! But I can’t abandon the truth. To me, this includes women who won’t date a man unless he has a certain type of job, earns a certain arbitrary amount of money, or unless he’s a certain race (especially the race most synonymous with money & “success”); all the way up to the women who stalk entertainers, pro athletes, rich attorneys & CEO’s…and the Donald Trumps and will generally only pursue millionaires. These are often women who aren’t ashamed to admit that they want to marry for money. Anything less than the figure on their theoretical price tags is considered “settling” or marrying down. Notice I didn’t mention character at any point…. Because character apparently isn’t one of their top factors for finding a suitable partner (that’s a clue as to why they so often choose bad men… the dogs, playboys, the a--holes, the inconsiderate guys, or those who never seem to work out for them for one reason or another).
There is an entire wedding industry in this country that plays right into this f**knuttery. The numbers back up the fact that these are grand gluttonous events. The wedding industry does roughly $70 Billion worth of business annually, with the average wedding costing approximately $30,000 (Pre-economic collapse of 2008-2009). (also see here). And when you are talking about middle class professionals & the upper middle class, you are looking at weddings easily costing more than $50,000.00. In some parts of the country $50,000 is actually the average. So before you even get to what many would consider a platinum wedding (well over $100,000.00) you are paying tens of thousands….just as an average. I hover between lower middle class and working class. (although I have a graduate degree & a half at this point). For me the lower average of $30,000 is platinum territory. I would definitely see $50,000 as “platinum”. Who needs to spend that kind of money for a wedding? It’s insane. The cost of a wedding has increased several fold just over the past 3 decades or so. It wasn’t always like this. Back in the 1950’s, 60’s, 70’s…even the 1980’s, folks didn’t go into massive debt for “the big day”. There have always been platinum weddings, but they were typically limited to those at the very top- those who we refer to today as being the top 1 or 2 percent. These extravagant parties were not the burden of the average American. Most people really didn’t care much about the lavishness of the wedding ceremony or the reception in those days. Folks would spend a couple thousand bucks, use the house or a friends home as a venue and would have a great time. Why? Because it was about love, companionship and family, or at least that's the message that was sent. Coretta Scott married MLK in her parents house. MLK didn’t have much money at the time - he was a fledgling minister. I keep using that example because it says quite a bit about how society has changed in terms of values. And we don’t necessarily have to go back that far to find that kind of an example. I can recall my fathers wedding to my step-mother back in 1986. I was 12 years old and was the ring bearer. No lavish wedding… they had the wedding in the living room of our house in Kansas. Could they have had a bigger wedding? Absolutely. My parents could have thrown a military gala on post, could have invited dozens of their military and Shriner buddies….Or could have had a big private affair in town. But why spend all that money…or go into debt unnecessarily? They ended up having a small event with about 30 or so friends and a few family members from St. Louis who drove up for the weekend. The money was better spent on the house, their two kids, and a third child that was to come into the world about 18 months later (BTW..That child - the one who wasn’t even thought of in 1986 - is now serving in the Navy…the military tradition continues. They just love to say we aren‘t patriotic don‘t they?). Smart decision in my opinion. That wedding taught me a lesson about what was important.
The wedding industry racket that pushes lavish weddings is a rather recent phenomenon. Today it’s not just the top 1 or 2 percent that have the big expensive weddings…. The average couple is now expected to throw tens of thousands into a wedding. Most women not only want it, but there is an expectation that they’ll get it.
It should be no surprise that when weddings were about love and relationships, marriages tended to last longer. As weddings have gotten more superficial, so have the marriages. Cause & effect? No. But it says a lot about the values of a society when “things” are valued more than people & relationships. It also speaks to the issue of class and the widening gaps between groups. The U.S. is becoming more of a class based society...almost like India's Caste system in some ways (for instance...it is becoming more difficult to move up in the U.S. if you are at or near the bottom). The class stratification is getting worse. Yes it is true that weddings, relationships and marriage are about money to a large degree...and traditionally they have always been about money. But in past generations they were also about love, family, companionship and certain values. (I don't agree with the preceding NYTimes article that claims "marriage for love" to be a recent phenomenon). There were definitely reasons other than just money for marriage/family in the nations history. Money didn't mean everything...it didn't dominate in past generations the way that it does today. Family was much more important when the U.S. was more of an agrarian society. Having plenty of hands was important for survival. With the rise of modern commercial farming, with 50% or more of the population now living in urban areas....and with the independence of women since the 1970's and 80's, the practicality of large families and the need to marry have waned.
I occasionally watch programs like “Platinum Weddings”, “Rich Bride/Poor Bride”, “My Fair Wedding”, “Who’s Wedding Is It Anyway”, etc…. just to see how ridiculous the people are. They demonstrate how thoroughly screwed up our society really is. It’s like watching a sociological train wreck. It is clear to me that women are marrying money (not all …but certainly a significant portion of them). They are marrying material thing. Men in many cases (not all…but many) are simply conduits for women to live a certain status based lifestyle…to simply have access to the “things” they want. They are marrying “things” and not men.
I was watching Platinum Weddings a few days ago & it was the episode with Tony Gwynn’s daughter as the bride. Several hundred thousand was spent on that wedding. I caught another episode with an Asian bride & a white groom (cough cough) where something on the order of $100,000 was spent just on flowers. This kind of craziness has now crept into the mainstream. But is it right? More importantly, could it hurt the marriage itself? (not that marriage is a grand institution anymore… I happen to believe that weddings and the wedding culture are a joke, and the state of marriage is in the toilet). But the point is, could this just add to the reasons why men shouldn’t get married? Could it discourage marriage? I think it could. The more I learn about weddings and the state of marriage today- that both are largely about money and little else - the less receptive I become to the idea of marriage. In fact, it is making me run in the other direction, as far away from the idea as I can get. What incentives does a man have for getting married? In just about every measure… it’s a losing proposition for a man. There is no incentive. In fact, I would say that there is probably more of an incentive today for a man to stay single. Marriages are nothing more than business contracts today…and no good business man would want to sign a lopsided contract. In the business world it doesn't happen that way. Why would a business man sign a lopsided contract that benefit’s the other side 80%-20%? It's unheard of. So why should a man enter into an equivalent deal in the world of marriage? Men typically lose the most from beginning to end.... from the first time he meets his future wife (he spends tons and has to demonstrate financial prowess to impress), to the time that the divorce is final and she takes almost everything he has worked for....and in some cases...he loses financially for the rest of her life...if he has to pay alimony...not to mention any child support required.
I came to the realization about 6 years ago that marriage was not in the cards for me - that it was not likely to happen. And for the first time, I’m starting to get comfortable with that reality. I was 30 then. Now I’m approaching 37. The further I have gotten away from 30, the more I feel that I don’t want to get married at all. I see marriage, weddings, and the rest as something that I actually can’t afford. I see women and weddings as being for men who can afford them. (Yes, I see women & relationships and all the stuff they bring as being expense items at this point). A woman who fits the typical mold (which generally isn’t my type anyway) literally just isn’t affordable. I have already begun to come to terms with the idea of living the rest of my life as a single guy. I have been chasing an American Dream for the past 18 years that is becoming more elusive. And I never reached a point during all that time where I actually enjoyed life. It seems as though a long stretch of my life has been wasted. So I have been trying to figure out how I will contribute to the World solo. There is one bright side to this situation… being single for so long (basically all my life) means that I won’t really miss anything by remaining single. But I do hold the door open 5 years down the road when maybe I’m doing a little better on the employment and financial front for a sexy nerd who doesn’t care about Platinum weddings, or how much money I earn.
In the meantime, I will remain disgusted by our society.
The future of America - Tyra Show segment on women teaching daughters to marry for money. (I don't really like Tyra Banks...never have. But I found this link on youtube and thought that the segment was actually useful...and that's rare for the Tyra Banks Show, lol).