Married with Children
Yesterday was my parents’ forty-first wedding anniversary. They have been very happily married for all of those forty-one years. I’ve seen them disagree on things occasionally, but there were never any fights, and I don’t even think there were any arguments. I know there wasn’t any cheating. The two of them were raised in the same small town in Iowa. Their parents attended the same church. Their fathers worked in the same meat packing plant. They are very compatible, and the only thing that might have caused them not to be is their age difference. You see my dad is nearly twenty years older than my mother.
I always thought that that would be how it would work out for me, too, except for maybe the age difference. I always thought I would just run into some guy with whom I had an extraordinary amount in common in terms of values and worldview, faith and politics, and we would settle down and raise a family. I assumed that same said person would be on par with me intellectually and share my sense of humor and enjoy doing some of the same things as I did. (I knew he might like sports, but I was willing to compromise on this if he would go see an opera or a ballet every now and then.) I just knew that he was out there somewhere, but I never found him. As a young woman I never imagined that I would ever have sex with anyone but that one man who would be my husband.
I bet maybe that’s what Kate Gosselin thought, too, or at least she thought that Jon would be the last man she’d have sex with in her lifetime. She picked a man with whom she shared a very powerful mutual attraction and with whom she seems to have shared similar morals and life goals. And yet it didn’t work out. Now I am tempted to get on my moral high horse here and talk about how the Gosselins are exploiting their children for money or how the public are contributing to the dissolution of a marriage with their rubbernecking. However, since I have now purchased the first two seasons of John & Kate Plus 8 on DVD, I am guilty of being the public. And although all of those children in the Gosselin household are cute and endearing (with the possible exception of Mady with low blood sugar), people don’t watch that show for the kids. People watch to view the train wreck that is the Gosselin’s marriage. You can see it deteriorating bit by bit with every episode on screen, and I’ve only finished the second season. There are four.
First off, I’m going to say that Kate Gosselin is to be admired from what I can see on screen, for being an excellent at home mother in what must be the most difficult of circumstances. In addition to twin girls, she and her husband have six small preschool aged children who are all the exact same age. They were born premature, and though they are healthy, they have to endure breathing treatments. Some of the things that Kate gets criticized for, such as her obsessive compulsive cleanliness, her rigidness, her need to constantly plan and structure, are things those babies could not have survived and thrived without. Preemies need extra care with their health and hygiene, and children need structure and routine. In a household as naturally given to chaos as the Gosselin’s, this is especially true.
However, Kate is not to be admired as a wife. There are things she gets right. She lost all that baby weight. She obviously got a tummy tuck. After her husband complained about her dark hair on one of the TV specials that got them their eventual reality show, she highlighted her hair to a shade closer to the blonde that he remembered from their courtship. She made certain that all her children went to bed by 8 PM so she and Jon could have alone time. She bought her husband a vacation for his thirtieth birthday and made arrangements for the children to stay with friends while they had a romantic getaway. She keeps a beautiful house and is a good cook and as far as I can see provides well for her husband’s comfort.
But virtually everything else she does, she gets wrong. Jon is a loving and caring husband and father. He is by far the more laid back of the two in parenting style and just about anything else that you care to mention, but he’s not lazy. The TV show intersperses reality footage with footage of Jon and Kate talking to the camera about the footage. More often than not, she criticizes him. She hounds him, she nags him, she berates him, and she even yells at him and insults him in public.
Poor Jon has a pot belly that apparently can’t be alleviated with the help of a tummy tuck, and she constantly needles him about that, but when he begins an exercise program with an elliptical machine he installs in their basement and then loses eight pounds, she makes fun of him for that, too. She states her desire for him to take charge, and then she fully admits with practically the next sentence, that she would never allow him to take charge because he wouldn’t make decisions as well as she can, according to her. Jon can’t win for losing. It’s not surprising the Gosselins are getting a divorce. What’s surprising is that they lasted this long.
The things that make people fall in love with each other and stay in love with each other have less to do with tummy tucks and romantic getaways than they do with the way you make someone feel or the way you feel when you’re with that someone. If what you make someone feel like when you’re with him is small and insignificant and unnecessary, then he isn’t likely to want to stick around.
Maureen Dowd, the New York Times author who was later found to be guilty of plagiarism, published a book in 2005 that was titled, Are Men Necessary? In it, she bemoans the plight of the single well-educated career woman and states that men are not interested in smart women. And yet Maureen Dowd has attracted a ton of good looking, intelligent, powerful men who were interested enough to date her. So, what happened?
I think that, like Kate Gosslin, she made the mistake of thinking that men were only interested in women that were younger, thinner, stupider, with an ideal waist to hip ratio and a non threatening career. These are over generalizations. After all, a study came out as recently as last year that claimed that obese women actually have more sex with men than normal weight women. I think the real issue here is that maybe, just maybe, the woman who gets the man and keeps the man is the woman who makes him feel needed, makes him feel necessary.