We talk a lot about the way our culturally prescribed role’s as women negatively affect our wedding planning, or lord, our roles as wife. But I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately, and David and I have been doing a lot of talking, about how the culturally expected role’s for men are… in a word… heartbreaking.
Talking just in terms of weddings, our culture demands that while the wedding day is our EVERYTHING the wedding day is the grooms NOTHING. Or worse, it’s a trial he has to slog through to keep his woman happy. In many ways I found the expected gender roles more exhausting than David did during wedding planning, because I was the one who suddenly became public property… everyone felt they had a right to comment on our wedding to me, all the time. But for men there is something quieter, and just as insidious at work.
Take this book that I saw this week called Porn For The Bride. It’s working title was clearly called “Whoops! You’re Marring A Douchebag!” It was filled with little statements that apparently brides would love to hear, and grooms would never say. There were the sexist winners like, ‘No, I don’t think $5,000 is too much for a cake!’ (because we’re flighty spendthrifts, obviously), but then there were the far more insidious, ‘I think it will be so much more meaningful if we write our own vows,’ because obviously weddings aren’t supposed to mean anything to men, or ‘Look honey! I bought new shoes, because I think our wedding day is that important.’ Which is a double whammy. David isn’t supposed to think our wedding day is important AND he’s not supposed to care about new shoes? Which is really too bad for him, since he bought Italian leather boots, and I wore heels from the back of my closet.
And then there are conversations like this one, sent in by reader Melanie.
So, today my partner met a work colleague of mine for the first time. Conversation went roughly like this:
‘Hey, I’m Mel’s partner’
‘Oh, hey, so you guys are getting married this year right?’
‘So how’re you feeling about that?’
‘Excited, and a bit scared, but it’ll be great’
When he told me this later, I said ‘really? you’re scared?’
And he said ‘No, but if you don’t say that, people think you’re lying or that you have no idea what you’re getting yourself into’
These pre and post marriage conversations aimed at men slowly break my heart. Because our poor men. They deserve so much more in life than what they are supposed to feel. They deserve so much more out of their weddings, and out of their marriages. And until they get it? Well, we’re all suffering together.