Tuesday, June 4, 2013

If You Want to Be Happy for the Rest of Your Life


Never make a pretty woman your wife
So from a personal point of view
Get an ugly girl to marry you.

Thank you, Jimmy Soul, thank you.

I didn't know very much more of the song than the the chorus, and of course the spoken line, "I saw your wife the other day" "Yeah?" "Yeah, and she was uuuuuuggggllllyyy!" "Yeah, she's ugly but she sho' can cook, baby!"

Of course, a joke song from back in the day...1963, based an an even older calypso song by Roaring Lion in 1934 (muah wikipedia!), but I was thinking about how this song wouldn't exist today in pop culture...because marriage is not standard in pop music anymore.

People still get married but it's not trendy. I feel really old talking about what's trendy and what's not. I feel like that word was last contemporary in the mid-90s.

Now, talking about what's trending is another thing...


I'd never looked at the lyrics to this masterpiece, but I decided to tonight, and I found a little pearl that was interesting to me:

"A pretty woman makes her husband look small." Interesting.

A while back I wrote an entry called "What is Man, if Woman." This line, along with this article about women breadwinners leading to increased unhappiness in marriage and divorce, made me revisit that.

I felt it incomplete. Because my question was really unanswered. What is man if woman is also professional, leader, breadwinner and a whole host of other things? Emasculated? One of the children?

Is it impossible for a Heathcliff Huxtable to exist in real life?

I find it interesting, on a side note, that most black people were still back with it being unrealistic for a married black couple to be a doctor and a lawyer. Some black people maintain that was the most unrealistic thing, whereas I feel like the more unrealistic thing was the seamless work-life balance that both of the couple exhibited while working full-time as an obstetrician and a lawyer with five children. But if we're stuck at the race of the individuals, we're not even getting to that conversation.


The article presents evidence that men are turned off by women who make more money than they do. If that were always the case, that wouldn't bode well for many of us professional women.

But I think that's another reason why a song like "If You Want to Be Happy" will never exist again. Marriage as an automatic, eventual institution is no longer as customary as when men openly considered what type of woman to marry in bubble gum banter and ballads, and apparently now the song would go a little something like this:

If you want to be happy for the rest of your life
Never make a working woman your wife
So from a personal point of view
Marry one that will depend on you

I have the non-talent of taking pre-existing songs and writing alternate lyrics for them that I wish was sufficient for songwriting, but it's not.

My mother, a woman who worked as a clinical social worker for 10 years, for part of that time happily married and another part of the time happily a young mother, seems to agree that the shift of women into the professional sphere is ruining marriage and ruining men. I'm like, really? Did your working as a social worker ruin Daddy? Am I ruining men by going into medicine? Did I seal my fate to be single this long because I decided to go into medicine?

If she were so adept, she would answer that it's not true on an individual basis but is true at the level of population. Perfect epidemiological answer from the public health degree I hope to use someday.

But I'm not mad! Definitely getting use of the more-expensive medical degree...


I still can't believe this. Like, really? Women have to assume a deferent role, if not dependent, in a marriage for it to have more success?

My mother stopped working for various reasons not limited to the demands of having a child with autism, and the absolute joy of a childhood where my mother was stay-at-home is something I will never overlook. I was fine with day care, but once I started school, I didn't like that my baby sitter dropped me off and I loved when my mother picked me up. And I remember loving it more when my mother both dropped me off and picked me up from school.

As I matured, I realized my mother took a deferent role in our household, and still does. And their marriage works and is balanced and happy.

But is deference required for a man to feel like a man?

And then I have some male friends complain about marriage because the thought of having sex with only one woman, especially the type of woman that would make "a good wife" bores them. That complaint bores me.

But the idea of these men about wanting women that did not make them look small...makes patriarchy seem like a grand charade to keep men somewhat behaved and domesticated by maintaining illusions of grandeur.

Or are they illusions? Is there really grandeur.

I think there is.

Men can have unprotected sex without potentially committing themselves to a vulnerable, 9-month symbiotic relationship.

I still don't have any answers. All I know is, because I was raised that way, deference will probably play some role in my relationship with my future spouse, whoever he may be. I've seen it work. But I've also seen where agency, personality and independence are valued...

And initiative!

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