Sunday, December 5, 2010
Happy is the Man
As I approach the final pages of my new novel, it's gotten me to thinking about marriage and how, here in the U.S. anyway, the marriages we generally view as "happy" are the ones where the man publicly claims to be henpecked. He indulges and caters to his wife, and mock-complains (or claims to be too terrified to protest) his fate.
In the world outside his home, he may command dozens of people, but inside he's not even allowed to pick out wallpaper.
On the other hand, if the situation is reversed, if the wife complains how the man wears the pants and makes all the decisions, we view it as a less happy marriage.
I wonder why that is?
I think it has to do with power. Because men typically have both the financial power and the physical power in a relationship, there's a gentle majesty in allowing the smaller, weaker party to make binding decisions, kind of like those trainers who lead huge bears around on little chains. We know the bear could, with one swipe of his paw, end the tyranny, and we view it as a measure of the strength of the connection between the two that he doesn't do that.
I wonder if there's any correlation between the longevity of a marriage (which, of course, doesn't actually measure marital happiness, but it's the closest measure I can think of) and who makes the domestic decisions?
What do you think?
And, for those of you who come from other cultures, how do things work in your world?