She Can’t Win Chile’: What’s A Woman In A Long-Term Relationship To Say About The Prospect Of Marriage?

October 31, 2012  |  

Foolishly I thought women in relationships had it easier than single women when it comes to marriage questions and pressure to cross the matrimonial threshold, but now I see they’re really just on opposite sides of the same coin. As a single woman you can never provide a satisfactory answer when people ask why you’re not married and apparently the same goes for women in long-term relationships as well. What’s interesting though is that the same people who complain about being on the receiving end of that pressure and criticism, i.e. women, are the very ones doling it out to others.

Reactions to Gabrielle Union’s recent interview about baby and marriage fever with Just the Fab garnered rather mixed responses on the site yesterday. Pleasantly, most people took Gabby’s hesitation to jump into marriage with Dwyane Wade due to past failed relationships at face value, supporting her choice to take things slow. Others, however, cried “BS” and charged that were D. Wade to drop down on one knee today and attempt to put a ring on it, that hesitation would fly out the window and she would most certainly say “yes.” Immediately I began wondering what’s the deal with women not being able to tell their truth about their own relationships?

What I find most funny about these reactions to Gabrielle’s feelings toward marriage is the juxtaposition of her approach to the media’s obsession with her relationship alongside singer Brandy’s. Plenty of people, myself included, have been critical of Brandy’s overzealous declarations that she is anxiously awaiting a proposal from her boyfriend, Ryan Press. Essentially, the reaction has been calm down before you embarrass yourself, but when a woman like Gabby basically says, “Eh, we’re not in a rush. I’m enjoying where we are in our relationship right now” that’s problematic too and we assume she’s lying?

And let’s not forget Oprah Winfrey who has been in a relationship with Stedman since 1986 and endured this type of criticism for the longest. It wasn’t enough for Oprah to explain that she’s not the marrying kind — because of course there is only one type of woman in the world and she is definitely dying to be married — no, the logical explanation for her not walking down the aisle is that she’s a lesbian and Stedman is just a cover. Really people?

None of us knows these celebrity couples personally and the truest truth about their relationships is that they don’t owe any of us an explanation about the trajectory of their partnerships. What’s unfortunate though is the same people who complain about being hounded by their family and friends about marriage and who have explanations on top of explanations for their current relationship status don’t extend the same “we’re not all cut-from the same I-want-to-be-married-today cloth” courtesy they’re seeking from other people. How is it wrong for Brandy to want to be married, wrong (or an assumed lie) that Gabby is waiting to be married, and wrong for Oprah to not want to be married? Are they not representative of who we are in actuality: diverse, contemporary woman with different relationship desires? And really, what other options are there outside of these other than it’s not legal for us to get married?

Obviously a lot of personal bias against these women plays into how their takes on relationships and marriage are perceived but at the end of the day we’re doing the same thing to them that’s done to us in the media and on a personal level all the time. Maybe we should just stop asking these women about the m-word period (like we request of other people) since their responses never satisfy us.

Brande Victorian is the news and operations editor for Follow her on twitter @Be_Vic.

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