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She Just Doesn’t Meet My Needs

She Just Doesn’t Meet My Needs

We are becoming a society of disposable marriages and relationships.


Whoever thought I’d wax nostalgic for the good old days of Disney movies – the destructive messages of serendipitous meetings at royal balls, fortuitous shoe fittings, happily-ever-afters and falling in love with the heroine while she is asleep.

Those of us raised on these movies and these messages require some serious deprogramming before we understand the amount of work involved in building a successful marriage and to appreciate that, as wonderful as it may be, marriage has few (if any) galloping off into the sunset moments.

But I feel a fondness for those good old days because, as damaging as those messages were, they are nothing compared to today’s! (Yes, it’s official. I’ve become an old fogy). The objectification of women has reached new lows with an exclusive emphasis on physical pleasures following close behind. If a relationship is too difficult, it is usually discarded; it is time to move on. Commitment has become a dirty word with the latest trend being the promotion of “serial monogamy”. (C’mon, marriage was never meant to last forever. It’s too hard. It goes against man’s nature, so the argument goes.)

As appalling as we may find these ideas, constant exposure to them has its effect. They seep into our consciousness – and that of our children. They cloud our expectations and influence our viewpoints.

“This isn’t what I signed up for,” an unhappy young woman confessed to me, as images of exotic vacations and dream homes were trampled by needy children and the financial recession.

“She just doesn’t meet my needs,” kvetches a longer-married man to my husband, completely oblivious to the self-centered nature of his complaint.

While our own reactions may be more subtle, we would be naïve to assume that we are not impacted, that some version of what Hollywood (and all mass media) sells hasn’t wormed its way into our subconscious.

Whether it’s our material aspirations, our expectations about our physical relationship (probably more polarized than ever from the viewpoint of each gender) or the types of conversations (clever and snappy – in coffee houses and bars) or our parenting (helicopter or free range – are we parenting chickens?), it’s getting ever more difficult to be on the same page and see our way forward.

Critical Thinking and Discussion

I think we all need to take a step back. We need a little more introspection, evaluation – and conversation.

We have a responsibility to stop before allowing ideas to just permeate our minds without careful examination. What did I just read? Does that idea make sense? A Jewish life is a conscious life. Our job is to choose what we let in, not just be passive receptacles for any idea, no matter how ill-advised or destructive.

The same applies to television and movies. I’m not about to take on Hollywood or the TV industry but I have two suggestions for its fans who are going to watch anyway. The first is to watch together as a family. The advantage there seems obvious. It is, at the very least, a modicum of family time and you will know what your kids are watching (at least until they acquire car keys).

And two, talk about it. I know you’re tired and just want to zone out at the end of a long day but these really are our teachable moments. It can be a simple conversation with a profound impact: What was that show suggesting about men? Women? Their relationships? Do you agree? Disagree? Why or why not?

Parenting is not just a full-time job when our children are young. It continues and gets progressively more complex throughout their lives. We need to be constantly aware of the messages that are bombarding our family and available to challenge or discuss them. (No parental speeches; just open dialogue, at the right time.)

It is our job to prepare our children for marriage by giving them a clear-eyed vision of its opportunities and responsibilities and the realistic and practical tools to deal with both, no matter what Hollywood tells them.

January 30, 2016

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The opinions expressed in the comment section are the personal views of the commenters. Comments are moderated, so please keep it civil.

Visitor Comments: 9

(7) Kathleen Dahnke Nottestad, February 4, 2016 3:54 AM

Values for Self Esteem

it is a very good article - I think sex education needs to be taught home, school & religious classes. I remember two such discussions - which I appreciated - one Home Education class a young women came and spoke about her goal of not having sex until after marriage - she gave excellent reasons for her decision - it was during my senior year - with young men and women and how impressionable they are in their youth I think the speech given on marriage and then it would be welcomed @ an earlier age grade & high shool repeated. It was graciously appreciated by the entire class. Ignorance is NOT bliss - many a young couples world has been disrupted by unplanned marriage necessity - information tactfully presented could help.
It seems like now days it's a casual, oh well happening - it's very important for they constantly hear & see lots of other more casual values being heard & seen on television - movies ect. why not abstinence also being put out there. That was the only time in a group setting that I heard it spoke of and explored. Probably one time more than most young women have heard abstinence as a choice being discussed. It's a given -yes- but it needs to be put out there in black and white too! just a thought - mine.

(6) Nancy, February 3, 2016 11:34 PM

Perhaps we should make it more difficult to get married.

It seems as if it is easy to get married and hard to get divorced. Yes, decades ago there were fewer divorces as people stayed together "for the sake of the children." However, many of these couples were miserably incompatible. If after lots of soul searching a couple feels that they need to get a divorce, then that is what they should do. Everyone couple is different. With that said, I agree that parents need to present a realistic picture of married life to their children. Perhaps certain couples would not get married in the first place if they had such an understanding. Finally, a person should receive support and understanding if he/she decides to call off his/her wedding. Sometimes that action is necessary, albeit painful.

(5) Anonymous, February 3, 2016 10:25 PM

Too glib

It's easy to tell someone else, keep a stiff upper lip, just stick it out. But what if after the marriage, the person who was eager to please during the dating process becomes complacent and stops engaging you emotionally? What then? This article offers no solace to such people.

(4) Anonymous, February 2, 2016 9:45 PM

good article and have something to add

Many of today's young people are also children of divorce. Some of them may be afraid to commit to marriage after seeing their parents fighting and divorce problems.

I know someone whose both parents divorced, remarried, and divorced more than two or three times. So, the message he got was that why get married. It is difficult to see marriage as a lifetime situation when one grows up as a child of divorce. It makes t harder to decide to marry and then makes it harder not to see divorce as the solution when things get tough.

So, it isn't just Hollywood and TV. There's a generation of children who are now adults and in relationships who never knew what it was like to make a marriage work.

(3) Anonymous, February 2, 2016 6:26 PM

Fabulous, practical advice. I hope more families start trying this!

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