Tuesday, March 17, 2015

“Dear Future Husband”: The Bachelor Effect

Meghan Trainor has come out with a new fun doo-wop hit sure to be stuck in everyone’s minds for weeks to come.  I wrote letters (not songs), to my future husband as a younger woman and I completely understand the excitement and longing that come with being a single woman daydreaming of a future spouse.  Admittedly, my letters were naively sentimental, but I admit I was shocked to hear the sassy, self-indulgent lyrics presented by Ms. Trainor.  I am confident if she sang this song in all seriousness to a suitor he would not be “buy-buy”-ing a ring.  It’s the kind of “take, no give” I like to call “The Bachelor Effect.”  Every season on this reality show a man is presented to a group of women as looking for a future wife.  For some unknown reason, the next few weeks are spent with women throwing themselves at the same man who does nothing to win their affections.  I can’t help but wonder what happens when the cameras are gone and the “winning” woman is left with the reality of who her prince really is- an imperfect man who may or may not deserve her affections.

Meghan Trainor’s song “Dear Future Husband” is similar in its assumption that a man must work hard for her affections with little in return.  Ms. Trainor makes a long list of demands from her future husband and warns “don’t think I’ll be home and baking pies.”  She also makes a bizarre threat, “And know we’ll never see your family more than mine.”  She does agree she’ll at least buy groceries (clearly the most important aspect of any marriage relationship), but demands the left side of the bed and daily compliments.  She then proceeds to make statements that I believe border on abuse:

 “After every fight / Just apologize / And maybe then I'll let you try and rock my body right / Even if I was wrong / You know I'm never wrong / Why disagree?”

Despite Ms. Trainor's insistence to the contrary, this statement is wrong for several reasons.  She is disrespecting her partner’s feelings and opinions and minimalizing her role in the conflict.  In addition, she is using physical intimacy to manipulate her husband. She reiterates this sentiment later: “Open doors for me and you might get some kisses.”  This is a kind of blatant manipulation that is never seen in healthy relationships.  Withholding intimacy for selfish reasons is abusive.  In addition, she’s asking her husband to lie by leaving conflicts unresolved and by fulfilling her demands just to get to what he wants from her, thus repeating the cycle.

I don’t want to ignore the importance of having standards in a future spouse.  It’s important for young women to have the self-respect to demand their future husbands treat them well (and vice versa).  However, shouldn’t we as women take it upon ourselves to be decent wives for our husbands?  Despite what this song and The Bachelor may teach us, selfishness kills relationships.  Let’s learn to give to those we love and then whatever we get we’ll cherish.  The “I deserve it” mentality is robbing us of joy.

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