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Put a ring on it

July 18, 2009

ringI downloaded a few new songs for the gym a few weeks ago, one being Beyonce’s song All the Single Ladies. Go ahead and mock. I just want to tell you first though (from my soapbox) that I grew out of my snobby music stage years ago. I no longer only listen to music that is “under the mainstream” but I now listen to what I want to listen to. I am self confident in my music musing, even with my sister snickering behind me and rolling her eyes like I’m some idiot teeny-bopper. Ugh. Besides, Beyonce makes DD dance this crazy dance, which always puts me in a good mood. And the other day when I was mopping the floor and scrubbing the toilet I needed a good mood. My husband, who also raised his eyebrows with a smirk to ask if I was serious about my choice of music, started to laugh when he heard the lyrics, “If you like it then you should’ve put a ring on it” because this song only confirms his ongoing culture joke: American women are obsessed with marriage.

To be honest, when he explains his points it looks like all is in his favor: 1) Our mothers start singing “Hush little baby” from the time we are an hour old just to get the “Diamond ring” in our head! Crazy, my husband says! This is setting the standard pretty high. (Europeans don’t buy fancy rings, just gold bands, so he was in shock when he first heard he had to spend more money. When my mother told him the old fashion way of spending 3 months worth of wages on the engagement right he laughed uncomfortably and pleaded me with his eyes to let him off the hook). 2) We got married when I was 24 and he was 25, each of us about to turn the next year. BUT, all 4 of my best friends from high school were already married with kids. Plus, almost all of my brother’s friends are married with kids, including my brother (he is 2 years older than me) 3) The strangest point of all: we bought a bouncy chair in the states for DD that plays music and among the very strange selection (including Jingle Bells, is the Wedding March!

I laughed at my husband’s raised eyebrows but started thinking seriously about our joke. He thinks American women are obsessed. We have more wedding magazines, more wedding themed movies, more wedding ring commericals, etc. than Spanish women. We talk about it much more, ask our girlfriends when they think he is going to propose, etc, something I have never heard a Spanish women ask. And they seem to get uncomfortable when I bring up the subject. Maybe this has to do with the fact that here they don’t have big proposals, they just decide to get married. Boring!

In fact I’m no expert but I would venture a guess that the average American marries before the average Spaniard. One reason is that we become independent way before the average Spaniard. They have a very hard time here getting out of their parents’ house because there aren’t as many part-time jobs. (Waiting tables is no part-time here, nor do they tip, so what’s the point…? I say this as a former waitress). The other reason is that marriage here is viewed so, shall I say, severely. It’s the end of the world, of their life and they are “too young!” (I like to tell them that marriage is not the end of the world, children are.) I hear this from my friends all the time, who, I should, add are four years older than me or more, (I am now 27). And who are in, and have been for YEARS, a stable relationship that they are not considering leaving EVER.

“So why not get married?”, I asked.

“What? Me? I’m so young! No, no, not yet.” The women here say this, no just the men. And it makes me wonder what they are afraid of.

Why do they have to have the dream job first? Why do they have to finish college first? Why do they have to buy a house first (I had to clear my husband’s head of that idea. And it’s a good thing too since we still don’t own a house!) Why do they want to wait and wait and wait instead of just committing? Many say they want to live together first. I hear this from American’s as well. And although I should point out that my husband and I did live together while finishing school before we were married (we actually got married secretly with a judge a year before our wedding to start paper work and because I didn’t want to just live together. My Christian background made me embarrassed of it, but that’s just me. The family doesn’t know about this!), I wouldn’t recommend it. Seriously, I think it would have been more exciting to move in together after the wedding. Another big moment to look forward to after the honeymoon, although with one wedding in each country we didn’t get a honeymoon. 😦

But that’s besides the point, I guess. In looking and listening to women on both sides of the ocean I have to say that I think Spanish women are afraid to pressure marriage, because, in the end, a man rarely marries without feeling THE PRESSURE. Spanish women, in my mind, are afraid of not looking independent, modern or being tied down by “traditions” of the Catholic Church. I think they want to show themselves and others that they are the modern woman. I also think that’s a bunch of bull.

American women don’t look any less modern or any less independent for getting married younger. In fact, I think we show more independence by saying that we can be married while going to college, while renting an apartment, while building our career. We say that we can tour Europe too, just with our husbands. That we can go out too, just while being married and faithful. We can commit to this one person that we wish to wake up next to for the next 50 years and only sleep with him. And don’t think for a second that the divorce rate here is any lower….almost 50%, just like the States. AND I think that we are strong enough to say, “Look, commit or I’m leaving. I don’t have my entire life to wait for you to grow up and decide to commit.” I don’t think a Spanish woman would ever say this. Especially after spending 10 years with that person. I think they are just afraid, in general, and cover that up by saying that they don’t want to get married.

In conclusion, for this rare joke that we have between my husband and me, whenever he smiles about a song like Beyonce’s or a lullaby that has the words “diamond ring” I smile to myself because I truly believe that even with all of this “obsession” we are the stronger woman. Because we are able to do it all and know that while we do it, we are not defined by being married or by being a wife, we are defined only by who we are. And that’s okay with us.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 18, 2009 8:10 am

    It’s also because women in America are not really obsessed with marriage. They’re obsessed with getting married. Whole different thing.

    In addition, divorce carries absolutely no social penalty of any kind in America.

    • wideopenworld permalink*
      July 18, 2009 7:46 pm

      Hmmm. Good point. Although in Spain divorce no longer has any social stigma either. We are all the modern people, so in both countries we have to shrug it off like it’s no big deal. Too bad. I’m not for staying in when everyone is miserable, but these days it seems like people don’t even bother trying to make it work!

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