Of Bride Wars and White Dresses

Recently the Mrs. and I rented a movie called Bride Wars. Quick summary: two little girls vow to someday participate in each other's weddings which, for some reason I don't understand, simply must be held at the Plaza Hotel in New York. They grow up and circumstances force them to hold their ceremonies on the same date and time. They become bitter enemies. Hilarity follows.

The professional reviewers appear to have disliked Bride Wars. I thought it was mildly amusing, but I have a weird sense of humor. There are much worse movies you could watch. That's not my point; I just want to comment on one aspect of the film.

While there is no nudity or sexual activity, both the main characters are obviously living with their husbands-to-be while the weddings are being planned. "So what," you may say. Everyone lives together before marriage nowadays. Well, no, not everyone does. But obviously many people do.

Another case of Hollywood trying to pervert our culture? I don't think so. I think it is a case of Hollywood reflecting our culture. Cohabitation prior to marriage is now so common that it's unremarkable - even in a PG-rated film.

To me, it seemed a little strange to see these brides happily planning their elaborate weddings while already sharing a bed with their fiances, all the while seeing nothing ironic or unusual about it. The first part of the movie even shows both women impatiently waiting for proposals. Hello? You're already sleeping with him. Of course he's in no hurry to give you a ring.

A lot of sociological research suggests that couples who cohabit and then marry have higher divorce rates and unhappier relationships than those who don't. The reasons for this are debatable, and we've all known people who managed to make it work. Likewise many people who go through the right steps in the right order still end up in divorce court.

In any case, our culture seems to have turned a corner in its attitude about marriage. The push for same-sex marriage is succeeding because straight people have already redefined how family life is supposed to work, and not for the better. Having established - at least since the 1960s and maybe earlier - that marriage is nothing more than a contract between willing partners, and that it is perfectly acceptable for people to behave like families without any form of commitment, we now have no logical reason to restrict the arrangement to one man and one woman. Any combination will do.

Where this will lead us as a society is unclear; no culture has ever gone the places we are now going and lived to tell the tale. Maybe 21st century America will be the exception.

Or maybe not.

1 comment:

Pauli said...

All points are really good. Sadly, the women "pay" for cohabitation in spades, mostly because they have been LIED to about men. An example of one of the big lies is simply that men are basically the same as women other than a few different pieces of equipment and some hormone levels. The truth is that men are RADICALLY different than women mentally and physically. If a woman could spend 1 hour inside a man's body and mind at, say, a shopping mall on a Saturday in July, she would be forever changed in her attitudes, her behavior and her choice of clothing.