Toasters, Marriage, and the Good Ol’ Days

Not long ago, I was substitute teaching at my suburban high school and heard a 10th grade girl say:

“I would never get a divorce. I mean, unless he cheated. Maybe then.”

Oh, sweetie. I’m so glad you think that’s the worst a man can do to you and I hope you never know differently.

I can only assume that she’ll turn into one of the happy couples on Facebook who’ve been married all of eleven days and are posting the following. picture

Because if it’s true about toasters, it must be true about marriage. Fine. I’ll get on board with that idea. In 1953, your toaster starts sparking. So you pay someone to fix it. Then, because it’s a faulty piece of crap that broke for a reason, a few months later, it causes a kitchen fire. Today, in a world of mass consumption, your toaster breaks and you throw it out and buy a new one. Guess who just avoided a fucking kitchen fire, bitches?

The reason people fixed things when broken back then, was because it was cheaper, which is the very reason people just buy a new one today.

In 1953, your husband hits you in a rage, because dinner wasn’t ready by 5:00. So you make sure dinner is ready by 5:00. Then, because he’s a bastard with anger management problems, a few months later, he beats you to a pulp because his chicken was undercooked. Today, in a world where you don’t have to defend your reason for not wanting to be with someone, your husband hits you in a rage and you leave. Guess who just avoided being beaten to a fucking pulp, bitches?

The reason people stayed in bad marriages back then, was because it was easier, which is the very reason people just leave today.

If you long for “the good old days” when people stayed married, then you don’t remember Ricky Ricardo bending Lucy over his knee to spank her for going against his will, while America roared with laughter. You’ve never seen Archie Bunker call his wife stupid while no one stood up for her. This was comedy. Abusing women is funny, y’all!

Today it’s just haaaawwt, but that’s a different rant.

The reason divorce rates were lower 60 years ago, is because it was harder to get a divorce, not because people were just so much more willing to work on their problems.The divorce rate in 1953 was 25%. Once a couple was able to declare “irreconcilable differences” in 1970, that increased by 10% and had more than doubled to 52% by 1980. It’s 50% today. Prior to the no-fault divorce, anyone wanting to do so was required to prove “adultery or cruelty in a marriage”. Tell me, how does a housewife, who hopefully has a high school education and likely no further, prove that her husband is cheating on her, to a bunch of men who also think wives  are property and need to be controlled? How does she prove he’s being cruel to her when he can argue it’s part of that controlling? Furthermore, if she’s granted the divorce, how does she support herself when women made up a WHOPPING 34% of the workforce? Why the hell would they hire a woman to do the job when they could get a man? If she is hired, she can hope to make 63.9% of what she’d be making if she brought a penis to work. Even daily survival, such as purchasing a lawnmower on credit, is going to take the signature of a man, whether she’s got the full-time job or not, as it did for my Gramma in the 1960s. It was just easier to suck it up and stay. The good ol’ days, indeed.

In the 1960s, my Grandma Kay went to her devoutly Catholic parents, head held high and said:

“I have done everything you’ve ever asked of me. I have been the best daughter I can be… but I hate him. I will not stay married to him. I want out. I don’t care what the church says. I can’t even stand the sight of him.”

She had four babies in under 5 years and he refused to use any method of birth control, including the rhythmic method. She was his baby machine, he wanted her to coddle him more than any of the children he ignored, and he expected her to do every one of the household chores alone. She tried to fix a broken toaster and got out before the kitchen caught fire. She reclaimed her life with more than 60 years left and gave her babies a happy mother and a wonderful step-father who adored them. She was the extreme minority. That’s not a time to boast about or envy. That’s heartbreaking.

Sure there are some happy couples joyously celebrating year 65, such as my great grandparents who died within a few weeks of each other, but there are also some women who wish they’d had the nerve to stick their heads in the oven 50 years ago and some men who haven’t retired because they can’t fucking stand her. This country is no doubt filled with elderly men and women, looking at the lives behind them thinking “if I’d just left 60 years ago…” Today, there are 72 day marriages and that guy who told me on a first date that the reason he was divorced was because they made better friends than husband and wife (?????), but that’s not the majority of our reasons. Irreconcilable differences can translate to anything from “he painted the bedroom orange” to “he burned my fucking house down.”

As infuriating as it is to hear a 15-year-old say “I would never get a divorce,” I don’t comment. She won’t listen. I didn’t. I thought the exact same thing 10 years ago. Several fake jobs, a house fire, a hundred bottles of Everclear, thousands of dollars in debt, an eviction, some dead pets, a miscarriage, hundreds of missing dollars, and a whole shit ton of lies later and I know better than to judge. Yet, these people on Facebook are my age and they don’t. Maybe they will turn into that judgemental old couple. He’ll work and she’ll do the dishes and life will be fantastic while they look down on everyone else for shitting on God’s law and getting a disgusting divorce. To that, I say: Fuck you. Fuck you for having the perfect life I wanted and taking it for granted, because you’ve never known how they could’ve hurt you. How dare you judge me or anyone else for escaping abuse? You have no idea what went on in anyone else’s relationship.

A marriage takes two. TWO. That means there’s no room for the opinion of a third party, because no matter what, “irreconcilable differences” always means, “none of your fucking business.” So while some people long for the Archie Bunker days and pat themselves on the backs, I think I’m going to enjoy shopping for a functioning toaster.

Yes. I did research this.

5 thoughts on “Toasters, Marriage, and the Good Ol’ Days

  1. Pingback: Divorce is not an option. You know. Until it is. | Atypical Midwestern Librarian

  2. Pingback: “Divorce is the coward’s way out”: My yellow-bellied bliss. | Belle of the Library

  3. Pingback: Pinterest, I’d like a word. | Belle of the Library

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