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Posts tagged ‘love’

bleeding hearts cropped for web

(Today is Valentine’s Day and I have gone to my archives for a look at love and marriage. This column was first published on September 17, 1989. I suspect things have not changed too much.)

I’m interested to see that the Advisory Council on the Status of Women is doing a study in provincial high schools to find out if young women have a realistic view of their futures. In similar studies done elsewhere, the Council has discovered that many young women believe in the mystique of a Prince Charming who will come into their lives.

“But the reality is,” says researcher Jane Wright, “that many women are living in poverty and are single parents.”

A few years ago, I did a series of articles about women in marriages, all of whom had married — or were about to get married — at a young age.

My first question to the engaged girls was always, “What do you expect to get from your marriage?”

Without any exceptions, the answers were individual variations on: “Well, I’d just like us to have a nice life together.”

On further questioning, I discovered that most of the young couples had no sense of shared interests or life goals, and the majority had never discussed the question of having children and how they would fit into the fantasy life that seemed to prevail in youthful girlish minds.

From what I could gather, the “nice life together” that the brides-to-be envisioned included vague romantic ideas of dining by candlelight looking like a picture in a magazine, strolling on Sunday walks through crackling fall leaves, and taking annual vacations aboard the Love Boat, dancing under tropical stars.

There was little knowledge about the part money plays in young married life (or old married life for that matter) and there had been no discussion about finances.

I went back to interview one of the brides a year after her marriage. She hadn’t yet given up but she was disillusioned. The candlelight dinner — if it ever got off the ground — had given way to a quick scoff in front of the television with reruns of Three’s Company. The romantic Sunday strolls were spent at the ballpark where the groom was either playing or practising. The Love Boat had been sunk by a wild trip to Montreal that the groom had taken with his buddies to see the Expos play.

When I interviewed her for the second time, it was mid-winter, she had a new baby, and she was feeling quite optimistic about the future but still fantasizing. She hated the time he spent playing ball and going on ball trips and she had wrung a promise out of him that he’d quit the next season. I felt sorry that she had gone that far and I pointed out that she had known before the marriage that he was a zealous ballplayer.

“Yes, I did,” she said sadly, “but I thought he’d change after we got married. I thought he wouldn’t need baseball any more.”

The marriage did break up — of course — but it wasn’t because of baseball. It was because the young couple had never been realistically prepared for their life together. He went out west and worked in oil and made a lot of money; she remained in her home town with the two children and lived on social assistance.

I also interviewed the prospective grooms, by the way. I found in most cases that they had given little thought, romantic or otherwise, to their impending change in status. The reason is probably as old as the institution of marriage itself: men view marriage as the context in which they will pursue whatever in life interests them, whether it be a career, sports, friends, hobbies or community service.

Too many young women still view marriage as an end in itself.

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