10 May 2010

Day 44: The Meaning of Wife

The Meaning of Wife by Anne Kingston.  ISBN: 9780374205102.

This is probably not the best or most comprehensive look at the role of wife and what it means for marriage, women, and feminism.  It was a pretty enjoyable read as far as non-fiction work goes, and it wasn't so heavy-handed as to state outright that marriage is an all around bad idea.  Mostly it focuses on the idea that Wifedom is in transition, and that we haven't really discovered what it means to be a "post"-feminist wife.

There were quite a few topics I could have pulled from this book to talk about.  My notebook is actually full of potential writing prompts, but this sentence stuck out during my reading: "And the unspoken rule is that the more money you spend, the happier you'll be, not only on your wedding day but also in your marriage."  (Page 34.)  You know, there is a big deal about getting people to spend a shit load of money on their wedding day.  What is with that?  If you're going to spend a lot of money on anything like that, shouldn't it be the honeymoon? 

I know my fiance and I are planning a pretty small ceremony and reception (sometime after the courthouse wedding).  We're talking maybe fifty people total.  I know that it's still going to be expensive, but I'm also not planning to buy a brand new dress, or if I do it will be somewhere in the $500 or below category.  It will probably be significantly cheaper than that unless I just fall in love with a dress.  But I really can't fathom even spending $300 on something I'm not going to wear more than once.  I don't need brand new jewelry for my wedding, and what little I do plan to buy will be simple enough that I can wear it on other occasions, it will not be a one day purchase.

This whole idea of investing time and money into one day for things that will be used only for that day is something that really bothers me.  Other than the photographs and the wedding rings, nothing you buy for your wedding day is going to last forever.  Even your memories are likely to wear out one by one and slip away.  So why is it that people will go into debt in order to start a relationship that is supposed to last their entire lives?  Is paying off your wedding for the next ten years supposed to give you warm fuzzy feelings about it? "Oh look honey, we still owe $5,000 on our credit card for the five tiered chocolate cake your Aunt Jenny couldn't eat because she was allergic; that was such a great day." 

If you think prenuptial agreements are unromantic, how can you even think of having a wedding that costs more than a brand new car?  According to some sources, a brand new car may last longer than your marriage, with seven to eight years being the average before divorce.  But with all this, I'm still planning on spending maybe $10,000 total on my wedding ceremony and reception (not including honeymoon which I see as being at least another $2,000-$3,500, unless we decide to stay in the States).  I'd just like people to think about it a little more in terms of how much that one day is going to influence your marriage versus how long you will be paying it off during, or even after, your marriage.  By all means, if it's worth it to you to spend a year's salary so you can have orchids flown in from Hawaii, okay, maybe you need to do that.  But if you're willing to break it off because you can't have it, then it's not about the marriage, it's about the wedding, and you're not ready. 

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