Marriage, the invitation to bridal misery

By Jiayueh Choong



So I’ve found the reason why Disney insists on playing on the sappy story line where the ditzy princess’ aim in life is no higher than settling for marriage with Mr. Love-at-first-sight.

Ever noticed that treasure-seeking adventure stories mostly involve an exploding temple/shrine/cove? I believe that therein lies a subconscious moral, to warn us that money should not come that easily to those who don’t work hard for it. Robbing/taking treasure that you did not collect comes with great life-threatening risks.

Likewise with mainstream stories which revolve around a gay couple. The reason why Jake Gyllenhal’s character in Brokeback Mountain had to die was, conspiredly, because it was not natural(right) to be homosexual. The original Hans Christian Anderson’s Little Mermaid—you know the one where the mermaid had to die because interspecies love was deemed unnaturally wrong? Poor dear had to turn to sea foam, because sea maids don’t got no soul—was also to ‘educate’ us precisely what Brokeback Mountain did.

So I’ve always thought about the “Marriage Benefit Imbalance”, confirmed by Elizabeth Gilbert’s discussion about it in Committed (Eat Pray Love’s sequel).

The Marriage Benefit Imbalance is about how women always lose out in marriages, compared to men.

Compared to single men, married men are more likely to live longer, accumulate more wealth, excel in their careers; and less likely to suffer from alcoholism , depression and drug addiction. Married men are also less like to suffer a violent death than single men.

Now looking at females—compared to single women, married women do not thrive as much in their careers, they are significantly less healthy and more likely to suffer from depression. The worst part is that married women are more likely to suffer a violent death, most of the time, at the hands of a husband.

This coincides with ‘the western problem’—when women in any one society become more educated and subsequently financially independent and autonomous. Now having a lot more options in life than settling down to make family, they delay getting married and child-bearing in exchange for pursuit of their dreams.

If you follow my train of explanations, it would be not be surprising if I say that romantic comedies are not supplied to benefit the female audience, but rather to persuade them into binding themselves into contract that provides diminishing returns. i.e. Nagging at the ever static husband, and minding troublesome kids.

Not to say that people don’t marry for love, and we should (just not all the time though haha!). One of the many more observations Gilbert has made about marriage is that when people start marrying for love, the divorce rates escalate.

Committed is a personal reflection of Gilbert’s frantic research into the topic of marriage, as she is required to marry her Australian/Brazilian sweetheart Felipe, to secure him permanent residence in the United States. Gilbert positions herself as a marriage skeptic—as Felipe and her having been survivors of two very bad and separate divorces—and uses the research as a checklist to make peace with the condition of getting marriage, which she sees as forced onto her by the US government.

Committed stays true to Gilbert’s style of writing, never forgetting to include insightful life anecdotes to prove her arguments, while remaining (irritatingly) self-righteous at times. It is more matter-of-factly narrated compared to Eat Pray Love—instead of dictating the sequence of events as it goes, Gilbert seems to be addressing the reader more, regarding the concept of marriage.

Committed is a must read for anyone of any age who is considering/non-considering marriage.

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