There are two veins in our rich cultural body that are worth noting.
First, dysfunctional relationships make great fiction. This is nothing new. After all, how could the plots move forward if Oedipus realizes his lover is his mother, if Ophelia does what she wants to do, or if Daisy Buchanan chooses Gatsby and not that brute Tom? Dysfunction is a powerful fictional tool, reflected today in my latest obsessions Homeland and House of Cards.
Second, there’s our inordinate praise of those who portray these flawed characters that we can’t get enough of in marketing ploys like the Academy Awards and the Emmys that are so entertaining, especially when somebody famous does something stupid like stick her scrawny leg out of her dress or tell a joke that is so inappropriate that the entire audience blushes, that the whole world is riveted.
But most of us live in the real world and, what some might call boring lives, where making sure there’s enough money in the bank and healthy food on the table are the focuses of each day. But aren’t we the real heroes? Isn’t keeping a relationship together and raising children who become contributing citizens essential to our society? Aren’t people who go to work everyday, love, or at least, put up with, their neighbors, and keep their sidewalk clear worth something, too?
Obviously, we have a marketing opportunity here where we promote everyday life as the Academy Awards so successfully promotes the wonder that is movies. Let’s look at what it might be like if we adapted the awards ceremony to long-term partnerships. It might go something like this:
Fight Friendly Award – to a couple who follow the rules of argument, don’t dredge up past problems, don’t be hostile – you know, all the things that make fighting fun. Interesting article on this topic at: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/10/opinion/sunday/a-valentines-day-gift-to-save-a-marriage.html?_r=0
Hormones Can Hurt Award – This goes to the man who knows how to duck when his wife’s hormonal death rays erupt, when his once lovely wife’s mascara-smudged eyes glaze over, searing him with such irrational jibes as “Of course you don’t love me – look at your shoes!!” This guy understands that, of course, what she’s really saying is “I need a hug.”
Waiting by the Cave Door Award – It’s documented that, at one time or another, most men go into their caves. This award is for the good woman who waits – patiently, and often, for long periods of time – for her husband to emerge.
Frolicking Fiscals Award – both partners know where the money is and how it got there and where the money’s going and how it’s going to get there.
Mr. & Ms. Conjugality Award– no explanation necessary
Outstanding Male Spouse – a true example would be a friend of ours who would get up in the middle of the night when the baby started crying, deliver the baby to his wife in bed, sit in the rocking chair while the baby nursed, and then returned the baby to her crib. Wow.
Outstanding Female Spouse – another true example would be a friend whose husband’s dream was to sail his own boat. She went along even to the point that on an extended trip on the Great Lakes, she was his first mate on an eight-hour deluge of thunder, lightening, and rain. When I think of my little friend in her little yellow rain slicker, well – you’ve seen The Perfect Storm. You know what I mean.
So, ladies and gentlemen – the envelope, please.