Few nights ago I’ve started watching The Marvellous Mrs. Maisel on Prime Video (which is amazing, you should watch it as well, the 8.9 on IMDB agrees with me). Without dragging you into the spoiler trap, the TV series is set in the 1950s and tells the story of an housewife and mother of two who pursues the career of stand-up comedian. In the pilot episode, after having a bad fight with her husband, she gets told by her father something on the line of “When I allowed you to go to college, what did I tell you? Don’t pick a weak man”.
That got me thinking. For starters, that’s good advice. However, what’s the opposite of weak? The dictionary says strong, but in the context of marriage, I feel it should read resilient.
My generation has vowed to kill gender stereotypes. However, we focus mostly on fighting female gender roles, and not reflect on how men are affected by them. In my mind, the word strong connects with a brief moment, with action, power, even biology to a degree. Traditionally, what we used to look for in a man. The word resilient, on the other hand, has the flavour of a reaction, of a deeper and durable attribute.
There’s a word in Finnish which has no good translation and depicts exactly what an ideal husband (or wife) should have. The word is sisu and it’s a mix of grit, determination, and resilience. All qualities you need in a marriage.
I feel the time when virility was the main attribute to search for in a man, was the time when a) women were ready and willing to be subdued, b) divorce was illegal or socially not acceptable. Now these conditions don’t stand anymore. I will go as far as telling that choosing a “traditionally virile” man nowadays is recipe for disaster. Give me a man who can listen, cry, talk about feelings, support, care. Someone I can trust during the hard times, who will not walk away when life gets tough. What I don’t need is someone who wants to make choices for me, nor someone who feels they own me.
Marriage is… interesting, nowadays. I’ve read more than one article which rationalise why we should redefine what modern marriage is. All good arguments, but I’m a romantic and I’m not a quitter. I’m not naive either. I advocate for the legal existence of divorce and I’ll defend any initiative which guarantees freedom to people. I also know that when you marry you make a semi-blind choice which is supposed to last fifty years, betting on all the following life events not to influence it. A big portion of it is pure luck and it’s important to be aware of it and stay humble. Still, I want to live in a world where we can stand by someone else for life. We do it for our children, if we truly commit we are capable to do it for another human being. Luck and life willing.
I want to end this post with one of the truest and most crude description of marriage I’ve heard in a movie. Do you agree? What is marriage to you? What do you look for in a partner for life? Let me know in the comments.