In her January 30 article in Huffington Post Living, titled "Don't Live With Your Boyfriend If You Want To Get Married," Debra Macleod provides her reasons for why she thinks couples should not make the cohabitation commitment before the man decides to "put a ring on it." Before her article begins, Macleod refers to herself as a "relationship expert." After a diatribe that is so full of bias, cliches, and sexism, she may want to reconsider that title.
Macleod uses many different situations to illustrate her point, but the main idea behind her argument is clear: that men are a bunch of apathetic, non-committed, sex-obsessed louts.
To Macleod, "living together means that a man doesn't have to pursue his girlfriend any longer." Almost as if simply existing under the same roof will suddenly and magically deprive a man of the care he has for his partner. To Macleod, "living together results in regular, no-strings sex for a man, thus removing the sexual motivation that is part of a marriage proposal." Almost as if all men care about is quick, meaningless sex, or that women don't enjoy regular sex with the person they care about so much, they decided to move in with them.
To Macleod, living together "removes much of a man's motivation to make the formal commitment of marriage within a reasonable time." Almost as if there is a specific, definitive, "reasonable" time frame that a man should be following before committing his entire life to somebody, even if all people and lives are different and may be ready at different ages and times. To Macleod, "men see [living together] as a no-obligation 'test drive.'" Almost as if women are cars, and we have to "test them all out first" before "picking" the right one. To Macleod, men are callous, unfeeling, shallow creatures that would rather hook up with the next random girl they meet on the corner than make a long-term commitment to they woman they are in a relationship with and/or living with. It is a disgusting and vile sexist stereotype.
Though her tirade is mainly directed at men -- or the pale, lousy, facade she seems to think all men embody -- Macleod, probably inadvertently, is insulting the women she's aiming to defend and/or protect. Macleod's portrait of the modern woman seems to be painted as one who is marriage-obsessed, who is desperately seeking that ring on her finger, who makes ultimatums in order to get a ring on her finger, who becomes unbearable to a man after that ring is on her finger, and who is spineless enough to not recognize when a man is treating her poorly or doesn't want to commit.
Are all women like this? Of course not. I wouldn't even go so far as to say most women are like this. Or some women. Or any woman. In my eyes, I believe the modern woman has enough strength and resolve to exit a relationship she thinks isn't worth her time. I believe the modern woman has enough patience and compassion to know if a man is or isn't ready for a deeper commitment, and work with them to resolve the issue. I believe the modern woman has enough understanding in her heart to know if her man loves her, instead of needing a piece of jewelry to remind her.
But for Macleod, the world exists in black and white. Ring or no ring. Marriage or no marriage. Macleod says "Living together is not a reliable way to predict long-term compatibility or marital success." Well, sadly, neither is marriage. Divorce rates are on the rise with the rebounding economy. Marriage is not the be-all, end-all of relationships. It is well within human capacity to love and spend your life with someone without having to get married. Living together, whether married or unmarried, will present the same tasks and challenges that it would to any couple living under the same roof, and a couple who truly love each other will meet those challenges with strength, patience, and understanding. A ring doesn't build a relationship. You do.
ALSO ON HUFFPOST:
"<a href="http://www.redbookmag.com/fun-contests/celebrity/kyra-sedgwick-interview-3" target="_blank">We got help when we needed to be alone,</a>" said Sedgwick of her 25-year marriage to Bacon. "We check in with each other all the time. I think that's ultimately the best for the kids, because they feel safe when they know Mum and Dad are good, enjoying each other's company and wanting to be alone together. I think that's important."
"We're willing to change with each other, let old things die and new things be born," said Griffith, who has been married to Banderas for 16 years. "But it's a constant endeavor."
After 13 years together, Taylor said the key is "<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/03/ben-stiller-marriage_n_1125508.html" target="_blank">a lot of communication</a>. And we're lucky these days because there are so many ways to Skype, e-mail. And you can take airplanes these days to visit when you're working."
Rita Wilson's keys to her 25-year relationship with Hanks? "<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rita-wilson/love-long-term-relationships_b_1266773.html" target="_blank">Laughter, kindness, respect, allowing the other to grow, hanging in there when it gets rough, not walking away. And great sex.</a>"
“<a href="http://www.glamour.com/magazine/2010/02/victoria-beckham-cover-shoot-photo-gallery#slide=2" target="_blank">It’s not healthy to be jealous</a>," Victoria said of their 14-year marriage. "I look at David and I think, He’s so handsome and I’m so lucky to have him as a husband. And he’s an amazing father. I don’t blame people for looking at him and finding him attractive. I mean, I do.”
"[Bowie] says it's all about the humor," said Iman after 21 years of marriage. "He finds me funny. I find him funny as well -- he's very English."
"The key to our marriage is <a href="http://www.rd.com/health/an-interview-with-michael-j-fox/" target="_blank">the capacity to give each other a break</a>. And to realize that it’s not how our similarities work together; it’s how our differences work together," said Fox, who has been married to Pollan since 1988. "The secret to a good marriage, as far as I am concerned, is a joke I make: Keep the fights clean and the sex dirty.”
Paltrow was put on the spot on "Chelsea Lately" when Chelsea Handler told an anecdote about Paltrow's love avice. "A woman was saying 'I got into a big fight with my husband and I got home and I wanted to scream and yell. You [Paltrow] were like, 'Whatever you're doing, do the opposite. If you feel angry, go at him with love and you give him a blow job.'"
"<a href="http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20237708,00.html" target="_blank">Get a good crash helmet on my head</a>," Ozzy said of his wife of 31 years. "When she gets pissed off, I really go up in the air."
Pfeiffer said of her 20-year marriage: "<a href="http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/family/celebrity-interviews/michelle-pfeiffer-0707-4" target="_blank">It's not something we take for granted</a>. We still have a regular date night every week."
"I say reach out and grab your husband's hand every once in a while," said Ripa of her 17-year marriage. "Even if he's wrong and he makes you sick. Because a little bit of that gets you a little bit of a back rub, which gets a little bit of 'You look pretty today.'"
"What’s helped us is being supportive, no matter what the situation is," said Will of their 16 years of marriage.
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