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Marriage in the media

October 24th, 2003 · 1 Comment

Marriage on television today is a cross between a bad joke, a bad dream and a nostalgia trip. Finding a contemporarily happily married couple is like finding an empty taxi in mid-town Manhattan at 5 PM – possible but not very likely…..

Recently I read the above quote in The Hurried Child: Growing Up Too Fast Too Soon (review coming soon to this blog!). The quoted passage was written twenty years ago, and even though I don’t watch much TV, based on what I read, and what little I have seen, I imagine it is still true today. Immediately the TV marriage that came to mind was the MTV reality series “Newlyweds Nick and Jessica” starring Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson. I’ve never seen it but I’ve read quite a few articles about it on the web and in the paper, most recently Tuesday’s Seattle Times “Jessica Simpson: Is she a dumb blonde, or does she just play one on TV?”

There are quite a few angles I could take in talking about this reality TV show. It sounds like it has become quite popular, in spite of, or perhaps because of, Jessica’s “dumbness”. Impressed, E! online has created the site The Wisdom of Jessica Simpson , in order to share these wonders with the world. It seems she thinks that 23 is “old”, has some confusion regarding whether Chicken of the Sea is tuna or chicken, and needs a maid to help with the piles of laundry on the floor.

I want to resist giving this couple any more press. They seem to be ubiquitous – everywhere I look from the web to the paper to the grocery store. But the last straw for me was this week at Safeway when I saw the cover of US magazine: Nick, Jessica and the enticing title: “Secrets of our Sexy Marriage.”

Excuse me my skepticism, but please, give me instead a couple in their sixties, married most of their lives, boasting about their sexy marriage and I’ll listen to their real wisdom! That would be quite precious to me. The fact that these two allowed cameras to make a TV show out of their first year of marriage reveals how little wisdom they have.

Other things I’ve read in the news have made me wonder more about marriage.
This BBC article Stars in space couple’s eyes described how in August “One of the most unusual weddings in history has taken place as planned with the groom orbiting the Earth and the bride on the ground in Texas, US. ” The bride on Earth who married the cosmonaut groom seemed a bit silly to me. What was the point of that? Did she really want to marry a cardboard cutout?! I can imagine that they didn’t want to wait any longer, but this still seemed a bit much: how can you kiss?! I sure hope they have a great honeymoon when he gets back. And I sure hope she doesn’t complain later that she feels like she married a piece of cardboard instead of a man.

Back in August, a twentysomething guy lamented about what love means for his generation in his Seattle Times essay Searching for a love lost :
The majority of our music treats love as a corollary or subset of sex, wealth or power. A popular line found in various sources, with usually explicit nouns, is “first you get the money, then you get the women.” This is a commentary on the ideals of many in my generation.

Most of my friends have always felt they wouldn’t find “the one” until after they’ve acquired the stature that is necessary to attract her or him.

Is this what love has become — from loving the immaterial virtues of our fellow persons to finding love only upon the verification of material accumulation?

But I have found some hope for marriage in all this media. Back in August as well I enjoyed reading about a couple who saved their first kiss for their wedding day. “To me, the first kiss is one of the most precious gifts I can give away, and it’s something I’ll only give my wife.” said the groom in an article written before the wedding. In a follow-up piece, After the story: Couple’s first kiss was worth waiting for the bride spoke: “It was so wonderful,” said Merry, now Jill Burwell. “It was just the most awesome experience, I can’t even put it into words. It’s just wonderful to be able to kiss your husband for the first time.”

I’ll put this one into a folder I started five years ago and named “Articles for Abigail” – and they are now articles for Michaela and Elisabeth too…..

Tags: marriage

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Katherine // Oct 26, 2003 at 1:35 pm

    Gee, maybe you can send us photocopies of your “Articles for Abigail” file and we can make them into “Epistles for Emily” – sounds like you have a precious set of papers in there. Is it bulging already? Thanks for this encouraging post. That’s a great idea to save stuff for your children to read later at the appropriate time. Maybe I’ll have to start. Of course, I’d have to get a newspaper subscription first. Hmmm, I guess we do get some magazines…