Sunday, August 31, 2008
"She's Happily Married, Dreaming of Divorce" http://www.cnn.com/2008/LIVING/personal/08/26/o.divorce.dreams/, an article by Ellen Tien, a columnist at the Oprah Magazine was recently brought to my attention and asked to comment on it. Eagerly I clicked the link and began reading, wondering why it had been sent to me in particular for comment. As I read through the paragraghs, I soon realized why my friend had sent me this diatribe on a woman who claimed to be happily married, but secretly dreamed of being divorced...it was a perfect word picture of the many women that I write about, coach and speak to at events. Most importantly Ms Tein seemed to be planting the seed in her female readers minds that these feelings, dreams and desires were alright AND that their complaints and discontent were something that all wives have in common...so why not dream of divorce...in a very subtle way she was giving women permission to even act on their divorce dreams...she said it without even saying it. The resulting disgruntled and mostly negative comments that followed seemed to bear my overall reaction to the article out. I was unable to add my comments to the long list due to the fact that CNN had suspended commentary...so, I bring my comments here to our lovely group, just in case you read this article in the May issue of "O" magazine or caught it on the web.
Yes, this IS a thoroughly depressing view of marriage...yet a real...true statement of where our view of marriage is and what it has become. Not only is this a depressing view of marriage...it is also a horrible statement on the role of women in the United States and maybe even the world today. I am not talking about our roles as wives and mothers...I am talking about our view of who we are as women in today's world.
Women today are so caught up with being DIVAS and bitches...being bulldogs instead of being women of excellence, significance and grace.... embaracing elegance. We have taken the power that we gained through equality and morphed it into something bigger than we can truly handle. We convince ourselves that the grass is really greener on the other side, while forgetting that all who risk checking out the greener grass discover that the grass is green no matter what side of the fence they are on...no matter whose backyard they are in...Green IS green...it's all grass!
Articles like this one are extremely harmful to women, their families and their marriages. It gives permission to many women who are on the fence...trying to decide if they should remain in their own backyard or explore others. It gives a woman the sense or a feeling that they are not alone in their questioning...in their discontent...it fans a fire that naturally comes around at mid-life...one that every one of our mother's had ...even our grandmothers...but society at the time did NOT give them permission to explore. This article and other books that are being written for women in MLC are encouraging them to throw their morals and ethics aside, grant themselves permission to step out of their responsibilities and roles and be mavericks...focusing purely on themselves, their wants , needs and desires. It is shallow! It IS narcissistic! But then that is what our society has been doing ever since the "ME generation" came in to existence....it's just a continuation of the thought pattern. It didn't really work then...it doesn't work now.
As usual, women of the United States easily eat up what ever the media or Oprah feeds them...convinced that this is the gospel truth. The fact that this article appears in Oprah's magazine MUST mean that she agrees with the author. it must be okay...Right?! NO!!! Not even Oprah expects everyone to accept what she feeds them...she does expect women and men to be discerning in what information she is providing. Not even Oprah agrees with all the people who are on her guest coach on certain subjects.
This is what is important about this article...indeed this is a problem that many women today are struggling with...in fact the majority of women at middle age deal with these very same questions, discontent and inability to cope with their lives as they know it. The problem with this article IS...the author infers that it is okay to feel this way AND she even plants the seed that it is okay to even act upon these thoughts. This is NOT okay. The "everybody else is doing it "bandwagon is in full tilt here. Who says this at 40, 50, and 60 years old? Women and men who have not matured enough to evaluate their circumstances clearly...measure their emotions and the possibilities of their actions if indeed they decide to act upon leaving their marriage...that's who says this sort of thing. A teenager throws this response at their parent when they have been caught drinking, smoking or having sex. Are we to accept that it is okay as mothers and wives...women...that because we are presently discontent it is okay to act like our children? How is that being a good role model?
Ladies, we do not have to accept every message that the media or people of other viewpoints are throwing at us. Just because we ALL feel discontent, boredom, empty, frustrated and confused about our lot in life does NOT mean that we throw away our marriages and our family as we know it today. We have the power to change it...we have to realize that the answers are living in our own backyards...the power lies with in US....not our husbands...our children...our homes.
Everything this author has pointed out in her story as a point of contention in this marriage is in this women's control...she has just chosen not to do something about it...she has chosen to be a victim of her own circumstances. As she points the blame at her husband and children, she is preparing her justifications for any actions or behaviors she might take in the future, no matter how right or wrong.
As women and even as men...we need to look at our hand when we are pointing blame and giving ourselves permission...one finger points at another person...all the rest are pointing back at ourselves...who's to blame? Who ends up being the victims in the end? Think about it!
Final words: We end up sacrificing our life legacy by selfishly seeking temporary pleasures or successes and being a part of a women's movement that is still trying to figure who they are in the grand scheme of things...we end up throwing our husbands and children under the bus....we end up only hurting ourselves.
(C)Amy L Harden 2008 All rights reserved.