This week my husband and I were contacted by Katherine Santiago, Associate Producer at HuffPost Live, the video streaming network from the Huffington Post, to discuss the controversy sparked by Gabrielle Reece’s comment that submission is a sign of strength in a successful marriage. Santiago discovered us through my blog, A Feminist Marriage, about the sacrifices my husband and I make to maintain an interdependent marriage. Santiago said she thought my husband and I would have a great voice for this segment about careers and modern marriage.
Unfortunately, my husband and I had previous business engagements that could not be rescheduled. It would have been interesting to speak with my husband about our marriage on HuffPost Live. It was an honor just to be asked.
If we had spoken, I would have started the discussion by saying successful marriages do not necessarily share the same dynamics. What works for one couple can be the undoing of another.
In The Good Marriage: How and Why Love Lasts, Judith S. Wallerstein and Sandra Blakeslee followed several couples over several years to discover what made a good marriage. What Wallerstein and Blakeslee discovered is most marriages fall within one of four types: romantic, rescue, companionate, and traditional.
Reece’s submissive marriage falls into the traditional category in which the husband provides for the family outside the home and the wife provides for the family within the home.
A romantic marriage is full of ardor. Its strength comes from the romantic aspects of love: hand holding, love letters, and spontaneous weekend getaways.
A rescue marriage is built on a couple’s determination to create a safe haven for each other to thrive and grow.
A companionate marriage is built on interdependence. Its strength comes from mutual give and take.
None of these types of marriages is better than the other. If a couple who is naturally fit for a traditional marriage tries to conform to a companionate marriage, there will be tension, misunderstandings, and eventually heartache and brokenness.
That’s why Reece and her husband may have faced the possibility of divorce after only four years of marriage: the dynamics weren’t working for them. Once they found the type of marriage structure that complemented their strengths and desires, everything fell into place.
That’s how it is with any marriage. Once you find what works for you and your spouse, stick with it. Don’t try to conform to what your neighbors’ marriage looks like or how your parents’ marriage functioned.
I wanted a romantic marriage, but striving to live a life full of hugs and kisses and spontaneous getaways only brought us grief and disappointment. Once my husband and I discovered we function best by building on the foundation of our friendship, the rest of the marriage took care of itself. Sure, we have our romantic moments, but we’ll never drop all of our commitments to jet set to Paris for a midweek getaway to express our love. We’re more likely to rearrange our schedules to help each other reach our goals.
That’s the beauty we have as modern couples. We marry not for societal reasons, but for personal reasons.