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WEDDINGSSWAYED BY THE SELLDoes today’s media effect a woman’s decision to say “I Do”? Stephanie Hayes
INTRODUCTION Marriage is one of the oldest traditions in this world, but the traditions andceremonies have changed over time. What once used to be personal, ritualistic, and spiritual, now has seemed to turn into a lavish display of rings, dresses, and false ideas of what to expect in an actual supposedly forever lasting commitment to another.The question to ask here is, Are people marrying for the marriage? Or are theymarrying for the idea of marriage? What is provoking people to marry beforethey realize the true vow they are about to make. There has got to be a reason for todays high divorce rates. There has got to be a reason why more andmore women are delaying if not avoiding marriage all together now more than ever before. Are we putting too high of expectations on marriage? Have we lost the true meaning of a husband and wife coupledom? What is the cause?
WHAT IS THE CAUSE? The media is constantly advertising over-extravagant weddings, “Bridezilla” mindsets, and material aspects of a wedding ceremony that it would seemappealing to any woman. Women who would normally want to wait to have amarital commitment may feel tempted to pursue marriage sooner because of the attractiveness of such a ceremony, which may have the unintended consequence of taking the plunge before they are ready, leaving them to question the commitment later in life. The media will not stop these portrayals, products need to sell, but what can be done is more education, informing people early in their lives of the realideas of marriage, seeking guidance and making counseling accessible so that when hopeful women see that huge diamond ring in the window, they wont be blinded by the bling.
WHY HAVE A CEREMONY? A wedding ceremony is a celebration… It‟s the ultimate declaration of the 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 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 was durable, 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 enoughdecades 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 have made the goal of choice, which sways from the actual goal… lifelong commitment.
PSYCHOLOGY TODAY “But there is an important but neglected positive aspect that explains why people voluntarily enter into commitments like marriage: it is way of expressing your love and devotion to another person. Not the only way, of course, but a well-established and particularly declarative way.a traditional wedding ceremony, a couple stands up in front of the people who mean the most to them in the world and promise to love each other, support each other, and be true to each other, is what gives that public statement its force.”“Strong feelings and sensations of any kind carry an illusion of certainty. With the exception of resentment, no emotional experience has more illusion of certainty than love. ”
MEDIAAn analysis of our society’s bridal advertising
ADVERTISEMENTS The truth is that putting together awedding is a big deal, and in today‟s society we rely on businesses to get what is needed.Businesses need to sell their product,and sales teams have figured out the power of rhetoric and appealing to emotion in advertising. And love, feelings of intimacy and romance, are highly appealing emotions.So why not use it to their advantage?
ANALYSIS These advertisements are putting alltheir emphasis on the ideals of love,and the inflated dreams of marriage. When women in our society are faced with bridal advertisements displaying the over-extravagance of wedding ceremonies, it‟s plausible that they may lose sight of the fact that the ceremony will eventually beover, where the realities of love enter and then the partnership is challenged into real love.
WHAT IS REAL LOVE? There are three types of love: Eros: romantic love; sensual love Philia: friendship love, companionship love And then there‟s… Agape: self-giving love, gift love; the love that goes on loving even when the other becomes unlovableWhen you have two people coming together as one, conflict and challenges are inevitable, even unavoidable. It‟s how the couple works through these difficult times that prove their love. It‟s theircommitment level that determines their devotion to their future. Not the dress. Not the ring. It‟s this unconditional love that should be focused on, not the wedding ceremony.
PERSONAL ACCOUNTS Question One: What made you decide to get married?Question Two: Do you think the media may influence a woman’s decision to marry?
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 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.
SOCIAL CHANGE When our media regarding bridal advertising places all emphasis on the idealisticaspects of marriage, it‟s plausible that it sways women into thinking that they want to have a marriage, without having the maturity or education to determine thelevel of commitment that they are actually making, and when the challenges come, women are left wondering what happened? Where has their love gone? Maybe he isn‟t „the one‟? It may also have the tendency to cause women to set too high of expectations,which can cause great disappointment when the excitement of the wedding is over and they are left with the responsibility of nurturing a lifelong commitment. Getting married too soon or too young and as a result failing in the marriage. Which creates a negative stigma in our society that marriage is something to fear,which may be one reason why more and more women are choosing to delay takingthe vow, when marriage is not to be feared, rather it should just be taken seriously.
PSYCHOLOGY TODAY“When a couple first declares their love and devotion to each other, and makes that commitment,it comes from their hearts—they want to make those promises voluntarily in expression of their love.”“When the commitment is voluntarily, the positive aspect gets all the emphasis, and the negative hardly seems important.” “...until later on, when the bloom falls from the rose. Now the promises do not seem so voluntary, the ring seems heavier, and marriage seems more like the list of „thou shalt nots‟."“At this point, commitment seems externally coerced, a institutional legacy of the foolishness of youth that only now made be paid for.” “But even the mostly glorious, romantic marriages can decline over time, and one or both partners may start to resent the promises they once made so freely.” ”…part of blame for the excessive emphasis on the negative aspect of commitment must also belaid on the contractual nature of marriage (with its historical roots in exchange of property rather than affection).”
PSYCHOLOGY TODAY “Entering marriage starry-eyed and blind to your partners weaknesses only foreshadows future disappointment and relationship trouble.”“Couples with steady, longer courtship periods and awareness of each othersstrengths and weaknesses were more likely to remain happily married over the long term.”“Couples with "Hollwyood Romances"-- bursting, passionate courtships that quickly result in marriage-- quickly grew dissatisfied as spouses, and predictably, were more likely to divorce within seven years.”
FORBES MAGAZINE“Its only in the last 20 years that women have said theyd marry just for love,It used to be that people were embarrassed to admit they loved their spouse, but now theyre embarrassed to admit the other reasons for marriage.”“Both sexes tie the knot due to a combination of love and social pressure.”
TIME MAGAZINE “Marriage is a more powerful symbol here. Its the ultimate merit badge of personal life. And if it doesnt fulfill peoples (often overwrought) expectations, they leave.”“It is the decision that couples make to strengthen commitment and move in together that is important, rather than marital status per se.”“Marriage can always end, and the protection it once offered offspring is now covered by child-support laws.”
BEFORE YOU SAY “I DO” “If you plan to marry it is certain that you have a preconceived fantasy of yourideal mate or the perfect marriage. After awhile you will begin to realize that your fantasy and the person you have married will begin to diverge sharply. “ “You misconstrued words of the wedding ceremony „and the two shall become one‟ to mean that your mate should become like you and your fantasy.” “You would become one in likes, even reactions and feelings: YOURS!”“The oneness in marriage is not similarity or sameness in matters relating to ideas or feelings but to the oneness of understanding.”
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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WORK-CITEDDavis, Lisa Selin. "All but the Ring: Why Some Couples Dont Wed." Time. Time, 25 May 2009. Web. 21 Mar.2012. <http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1898346,00.html>.Goudreau, Jenna. "Why Men and Women Get Married." Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 27 May 2010. Web. 21 Mar.2012. <http://www.forbes.com/2010/05/26/why-do-men-women-get-married-forbes-woman-well-being-love-money.html>.Rodolfo, Mendoza-Denton. "The Fantasy of Perfect Love." Perfect for Me. Psychology Today, 14 Mar. 2012.Web. 21 Mar. 2012. <http://www.psychologytoday.com/collections/201203/the-fantasy-perfect-love/perfect-me>.Simon Ph.D., Caroline J. "The Fantasy of Perfect Love." Illusive Lovers Dreams. Psychology Today, 14 Mar.2012. Web. 21 Mar. 2012. <http://www.psychologytoday.com/collections/201203/the -fantasy-perfect-love/illusive-lovers-dreams>.Stosny, Steven. "The Fantasy of Perfect Love." Love Big, Think Small. Psychology Today, 2 Mar. 2009. Web. 21Mar. 2012. <http://www.psychologytoday.com/collections/201203/the-fantasy-perfect-love/love-big-think-small>.White Ph. D., Mark D. "Maybe Its Just Me, But..." Why Get Married? The Value of Commitment. PsychologyToday, 3 Aug. 2010. Web. 21 Mar. 2012. <http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/maybe-its-just-me/201008/why-get-married-the-value-commitment>.Wright, H. Norman, and Wes Roberts. Before You Say "I Do": A Marriage Preparation Manual For Couples. Eugene:Harvest House, 1997. Print.