So I (Melissa) was thinking the other day about Jessica Simpson. Ha! Yes, that's really where we're going to start with this blog. Good old Jessica Simpson. But really, I was thinking about the MTV show that was on a couple of years ago called Newlyweds that featured a "real" look into the new marriage of quasi-celebrities Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey. I was totally addicted, as my college roommates will attest to, and so were many, many other people. In fact Jessica and Nick became uber-famous simply because they allowed the public an insider's look into their everyday married life.
I have two observations I think are worth noting about the whole ridiculousness of the show and what it actually represented on a social level to many who watched it. It was interesting to note how successful this show about marriage became. It exploded in ratings and made Jessica and Nick a ton of money. Why? I think because it allowed us as the public to view the messy, regular, relatively "normal" aspects of newly married life. While they were still celebrities, we got to see Jessica burp, whine about laundry, say stupid things, get mad at her husband, and let her guard down with him in moments of pure silliness. We got to see Nick get annoyed at his wife, try to fix things and move furniture on his own, make bad decisions, support his wife's career, and let loose with his friends. It was great to "connect" with this couple through television....it was like therapy. "Hey other people fight too!" There are so many stereotypes and false expectations that society and the media portray about what married life should look and feel like. I think many of us wonder if we're doing it all wrong when the "newly-wed-ness" isn't feeling so picture perfect like it's supposed to be. I think Newlyweds made us all breathe a collective sigh of relief that real marriages do experience fights just as much as happiness. And that's it's not all picture perfect, not even for the rich and famous.
Secondly, I would like to point out how fast the fame disappeared for Jessica and Nick as soon as the show ended and their divorce became public. These two people were celebrities simply because they were married and as soon as that ship sailed...so did their fame. It is so interesting to me and this is why: I think that our generation of 20-30 somethings and the generation of teenagers below us are voraciously hungry to see marriages survive. We have grown up with a 50% percent divorce rate. It's utterly common-place to see families and marriages ripped apart on a daily basis. And most social scientists have statistic after statistic on how this negatively impacts our society. Divorce hurts. It's hurts the parents and it hurts the children. I know, because I have parents who are divorced. Sure you can accept it and heal from it; God is a great Redeemer of hurting hearts. But while the pain can be healed, the broken relationship between the divorced parties remains. And we are left to deal with our own broken families or the broken families of friends or spouses. I think our generation responded to Newlyweds so strongly because we desperately wanted to believe that there was some hope for marriage left. We wanted Jessica and Nick to stay married. We wanted to see a marriage work, to see commitment happen. And when their marriage ended in divorce, we cast them off. After all, divorce is old news. How many times have we all heard, "It's just not working out any more, I'm not happy." As a public, we felt disillusioned and un-empathetic because we were hungry not to see a marriage fail...but to see a marriage succeed.
So what can we take away from my musings about Newlyweds? Perhaps that there is a reality behind every marriage that doesn't live up to "image" of happily ever after that we all try to portray. I think that is normal. I think it's normal to fight, normal to be annoyed, normal to act totally goofy, normal to say stupid things and laugh at each other. It's okay to have a real marriage and that means a lot of ups and downs. And I also think it's good to be aware of what is going on in our society concerning marriage and divorce. It's good to dig deep and try to understand our own personal feelings about commitment and to talk to each other about those feelings and ideas.
What do you think our culture and media tell us marriage should look like?
Do you agree that our generation wants to see marriages stand the test of time?
Let us know your thoughts.