The Role(s) of Marriage
By: Shannon Dyett
The idea of marriage is for two people who are deeply and irrevocably in love with each other to realize that one day they are no longer one individual person but a part of something more, something greater, half of one heart. With marriage comes compromise and sacrifice that both you and your partner must be willing to do and accept in order for your partnership to work. Now the role of marriage that society has implanted in us for decades and centuries that came before was that women were ‘designed’ to fulfill their duties as wives by taking care of the house that she and her husband live in. Cooking, cleaning, washing dishes, taking care of the children(if there are any) and basically being a slave and doing slavery work while all her husband does is go to work, come home and expect dinner to be done, the house to be cleaned and not a problem in site. In the excerpt from ‘The Feminine Mystique’ by Betty Friedan she stated “Their only dream was to be perfect wives and mothers; their highest ambition was to have five children and a beautiful house. They only fight to get and keep their husbands. They had no thought for the unfeminine problems of the world outside the home; they wanted the men to make the major decisions”. Some women are so blinded by the idea that they must keep their man or they would be looked upon as a woman that isn’t capable of marriage or isn’t worthy enough or good enough to be someone’s wife. Not realizing that it’s better to keep a man that doesn’t treat you like a slave than to keep one that does.
Women since the 1800’s were always subjected to doing one thing and one thing only which was to always tend to her husband’s as well as her children’s needs and she could never object to doing so because in everyone’s eyes that was her one and only job. Women were always looked upon as people that should’ve been more than happy to be married to a man that was wealthy and had a good paying job and in return they do house work without complaining because ‘they should be more than grateful’ and ‘they’re lucky enough to have a man that pays for everything they need, the least they could do is obey and return the favor’. In the book Women Race & Class written by Angela Y. Davis, it states two thing “Well – situated women began to denounce their unfulfilling domestic lives by defining marriage as a form of slavery” (Davis, 33) and “They seem to have ignored, however, the fact that their identification of the two institutions also implied that slavery was really no worse than marriage” (Davis, 34).
What turns marriage into an abusive relationship is when the women who are obligated to fulfill their duties as housewives get fed up and tired and start to do less work than usual around the house. Their husbands would come home and see either the house is clean and food isn’t cooked or vice versa and start verbally abusing them to do better and say ‘I come home from a long day at work to find the house untidy or no dinner on the table, so what are we supposed to eat?’. As time passes and the wives continue to slack at home due to the fact that they get tired all the time from cooking and cleaning and taking care of the children that will turn the husband’s verbal abuse into physical abuse to the point where it will no longer be a marriage for the both of them where they love each other dearly till death do them part, it will end up being miss treatment for her till death do her part. If she is getting physically abused by her husband daily because of her lack of work in the house that is displeasing him, she would end up with one of two choices: either leaving him and saving herself or staying there continuously getting abused by ‘the love of your life’ to the point where she ends up 10 feet in the grave.
But some women are afraid to leave their husbands for four reasons; they’re afraid that the husband would either come after them while they’re on the run and try to kill them because in some men’s minds it’s “either I have you or no one can”. If they have kids with their husband they stay for their children’s sake and carry on getting abused. Sometimes their husbands are the only men that were ever in their lives intimately so to leave and start over would be foreign to them. Lastly, which is the most common one of all, they believe that their husbands who abuse them daily have the capability of changing back to the lover they once knew years ago, especially when the husband’s shower them hours after with gifts and apologies to let them know that ‘they’ll do better next time, they promise’ or ‘they can change, they will change for you’.
When they first start abusing you, the first thing they say is ‘I’m sorry you know I’ll never hurt you, it was a one time thing I’ll never do it again’ until they do it a second time then a third, to the point where you stop counting and really start to feel it. As Jahmene Douglas once said “Women should know that love doesn’t abuse you. It shouldn’t hurt you. Love cannot be redefined into ‘He only hit me once, I’ll let it slide.’ Love is happiness, not being neglectful, caring, being respectful, providing, having standards, kindness, standing up for the right things”. Women should never lower their standards to be with a guy who can support them financially but in return treat them like they aren’t humans with feelings. They are supposed to be love companions that treat each other equally, not domestically, especially in front of children. Whether the wife feels enslaved taking care of the house or whether she’s physically getting abused it still isn’t acceptable to treat her like an animal or like a slave because once upon a time you did manage to say the words ‘I do’.
- Jahmene Douglas – https://www.azquotes.com/author/41632-Jahmene_Douglas
- Betty Friedan “The Feminine Mystique” – https://via.hypothes.is/https://wgst1001.commons.gc.cuny.edu/wp-content/blogs.dir/17925/files/2021/08/Excerpt-From-The-Feminine-Mystique-The-New-York-Times.pdf
- Angela Y. Davis “Women Race and Class” – https://legalform.files.wordpress.com/2017/08/davis-women-race-class.pdf