There’s a commercial on TV right now that fills me with horror and revulsion. It starts with a very petulant young woman who stares at the camera and states, “I hate being married to George.”
My heart breaks for George.
George, whoever he is, has pledged his life, his love, his worldly goods, and his future to this woman, who disdains his gift in front of him and a very wide spectrum of witnesses.
I keep turning her words around in my mind to see why they bother me so much.
What if she had said, “I hate George?” I don’t think that would have bothered me. Everyone is disliked by someone. Had she expressed a mere distaste for him, I would have thought, “Run, George! She’s pretty, but she’s not worth your time.”
And if she had said, “I hate marriage,” it might not have bothered me either. After all, any institution can be analyzed coldly at a distance, and found wanting. Marriage is not everyone’s cup of tea. It’s a unique, self-imposed form of bondage, whereby one gives up the right to live freely, spend recklessly, travel alone and impulsively, act selfishly, and best of all, enjoy the oxymoronic experience of being hunter and prey, as one stalks potential lovers with the hope of being bagged. It’s easy to find marriage a bit constricting at first… and it takes more than a little time and practice to find its bonds comforting, rather than restrictive.
She doesn’t say “I hate marriage,” though. She actually says, “I hate being married to George.”
As she speaks, I hear one human being saying, “This particular person has given me his life, his body, his trust, his hopes for a family. He has denied himself the right of seeking anyone else to hold him, feed him, comfort him, care for him in sickness and in health, share his fortunes, or even lie by his side in the grave. This person has pledged the totality of himself to me… and I wish he hadn’t. I don’t want him…him specifically.”
I also hear her say, “I’ve pledged my life to this person. I’ve promised him my body, and the fruit of my womb. I’ve chosen him among men as the person with whom I will age and mature… as the person with whom I’ll share my days and nights, willingly. I’ve made a commitment to love him when it becomes difficult, to overlook his flaws and even reach the point where his imperfections fill me with protective tenderness. I’m tied to this man… and I find the bond constricting, rather than liberating. I’ve promised to stay with him for a lifetime, and I don’t want to be with him another minute.”
I can’t imagine anything more dismissive… more cruel.
Oh, I’m being an idiot. I don’t think this chick thought it out so thoroughly. I think she married in haste, and repented it quickly.
But then the camera pans out to George, and he says, “This is off to a good start.”
Poor George. Does he expect his marriage to last? Does he think this girl will ever treasure him as he might deserve? Does he expect her to ever put his needs and wishes ahead of her own? Does he expect her to be faithful, either in body or in soul? Does he expect her to bolster his ego, and see the most beautiful reflections of himself in her eyes?
What can he hope for? How deep a chasm has he fallen into?
I can’t imagine hating another human being so much that I could say, “I hate being married to him.” What absolute hell that must be! How devoid of hope one would have to be! How joyless!
I love being married to Jeff. I love being married. I love Jeff.
I love knowing that this man and I have chosen each other, and take increasingly greater delight in each other every single day, even when we sit in silence, riding in a car or staring at a TV, wordless and secure in the rightness of our bond. I love knowing that he treasures me even when I’m dopey, or lazy, or whiny, or just plain annoying. He’s happy knowing that he’s the center of my universe, even when he’s cranky, or goofy, or stubborn, or unreasonable.
I guess I find this commercial so troubling because I don’t like to sit in heaven and look through the window to hell.