WHY HAVE A CEREMONY? A wedding ceremony is a celebration… It‟s the ultimate declaration of the ultimate unification of two people. It‟s the event that allows loved ones to witness that unification. And it could even be argued that having a wedding ceremony makes it seem more official.Weddings are as old as time. They have always had their traditions. The white dress, the ring that bound the woman to the man, the cake, the gifts… but throughout history symbols may have held the same meaning but seem to have changed in appearance, and arguably… expectation. What once was considered a valuable gesture was a simple band of gold. A metal that wasdurable, precious, yet modest. Now what seems to lay on the finger of most American women is a lavish display of sparkle. Wearing a hand-me-down dress of the color of purity was considered extravagant enough decades ago, and now we have women who seem to be unsatisfied until they have found the “perfect” dress for their personality. One cannot deny the high standard our society has seemed to put on the traditions ofmatrimony. A wedding ceremony is a fundamental statement when marrying the partner of your life. But they have become so extravagant and indulgent, that it seems to taken focus over the actual marriage itself.
MEDIAAn analysis of our society’s bridal advertising and entertainment
Question One: What made you decide to get married?“Are you kidding?? I‟m terrified of marriage! The idea of being with oneperson for the rest of my life…? I just want to focus on myself.”Question Two: Do you think the media may influence a woman‟s decision to marry?“Maybe?? Me personally, I LOVE wedding shows, and I admit to havingbought [Bridal] magazines… I love the hair and make-up, and thedresses… but it doesn‟t make me want to get married. I‟ve got mypriorities straight! Although… if I could have the wedding without themarriage that‟d be awesome!”
Question One: What made you decide to get married?“I knew I was going to marry him right away. He has all the qualities I look forin a husband… I‟m myself around him… and I just can‟t wait to start my lifewith him.”Question Two: Do you think the media may influence a woman‟s decision to marry?“No, not really… I mean, maybe for some people. But I just like to watchwedding shows and stuff because it‟s entertaining. Plus they give some reallygreat ideas, haha!”
Question One: What made you decide to get married?“We met in high school… none of my friends liked him… myparents definitely didn‟t like him… but I don‟t know, we just hadsuch a great connection right off the bat. It was just so natural withhim. I wasn‟t worried about the future, I just wanted to be with him.”Question Two: Do you think the media may influence a woman‟s decision to marry?“Um… I‟ve never thought of that before… but since you‟re bringingit up I would say yeah, I think the media does influence women‟sdecision to marry. I wanted to have a nice dress and a nice ring but atthe end of the day I just wanted to make us permanent. So I guess itdepends on the woman and how she ultimately views marriage.”
EMILY 30 Years Old Married Seven Years New Mom
Question One: What made you decide to get married?“Well, he was the first man I had ever loved… the best friend I had everhad… plus I didn‟t have a very good living situation at home, and he was away out I guess? We lived together for awhile which I think lead to the easeof making the decision to marry „cause it was no big deal and I alreadyknew he was the one I was going to be with.”Question Two: Do you think the media may influence a woman‟s decision to marry?“Not really… I mean maybe it sets higher expectations…? But I thinkwomen marry because they want to get married, and putting together abeautiful ceremony is a plus.”
THERESA 32 Years Old Divorced Married for Twelve Years
Question One: What made you decide to get married?“My religion had a major influence on my decision to marry. We wereencouraged to marry young. I was in love with him and that was enoughfor me but in retrospect we should have waited.”Question Two: Do you think the media may influence a woman‟s decision to marry?“Yes, but not all women. I think it depends on their personality, and theirself-esteem. Like, if a Bridal Magazine at the checkout makes you want tohave a husband then maybe it‟s time to search within yourself a little bit.”
ANGELA 46 Years Old Married Twenty-Nine Years Still in Love
Question One: What made you decide to get married?“He said, „I want to take care of you.‟ I had never had anyone say anythinglike that to me before… and the combination of our deep friendship, plusthat phrase, to me, was what made me say „yes‟… in that momenteverything stood still... I thought, This is gonna be fun…!”Question Two: Do you think the media may influence a woman‟s decision to marry?“I do, I think it influences women both ways though… obviously the mediais very influential and I think that for young women, especially looking forindependence… getting married is that next grown up step.”
UNINTENDEDCONSEQUENCES Possible influences the media has caused
SOCIAL CHANGE Changed perceptions Delayed or avoided marriages Negative stigma Fear of failure Divorce Rates are at an all time highWomen today are delaying if not avoiding marriage altogether.
STATISTICS D i vo r c e“The divorce rate in America for firstmar riage, versus second or thirdmarriage is 50% percent of firstmar r i ag es, 6 7 % of s econd and 7 4 % ofthird mar riages end in divorce,accor d ing to Jenni fer Baker oft h e Fo r e s t I n s t i t u t e o f P r o f e s s i o n a lP s y c h o l o g y i n S p r i n g f i e l d , M i s s o u r i .” Delayed Mar ria geA c c o r d i n g t o t h e U. S. C e n s u sBureau, fifty years ag o in 1961 thea v e r a g e a g e f o r m e n a n d wo m e n t omar r y was 22 and 20. In 2011, itwas 28 and 26.
UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONSGetting married too soon or too young and as a result failing in the marriage. Inflated hopes and ideals Resulting in disappointment
SOLUTIONSWays our society can prevent weddings being swayed by the sell
EDUCATEWe can’t change the media, but we can change how we inform. Our academics go beyond the teachings of math and science… Is it not also to prepare our children, our future society, for the realities of life? Creating courses in our high schools that educate our young students of life how to manage relationships and social interaction will better equip them when they have matured into the adult world. Courses that which inform an adolescent healthy ways to cope with relationship conflict, to utilize certain mental tools when interacting with others, and to understand the many differences of members of the opposite sex. Practicing this may not only create healthier relationships in the future, but also mold a more an individual into a more well-rounded contributor of society.
COUNSELWe can’t change the media, but we can change how we help. The causes for divorce are perpetually dissected and analyzed… How might it be prevented? Can it be prevented?This is uncertain, though scholars seem to be hard at work with finding the answers. Perhaps, what is certain, is that we can at least try tocounteract the failure of marriages in our country. And it could be with something as simple as guidance. Creating a health system where free, frequent, and encouraged counseling to married couples, as well as prospective ones, is provided has the potential to not only revocate the dissolving of marriages, but the changed perceptions of marriage counseling in general.
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