Here’s How Marriage Sucks for Women
Marriage makes people healthy. Or at least that’s what we are constantly told, according to studies that pop up from time to time. While singles advocate Bella dePaulo frequently writes articles debunking those studies, now a new study indicates that, well, she may be both right and wrong. Marriage does help in keeping some people healthier, but not everyone. And guess who it doesn’t keep healthier?
Women, specifically, heterosexual women.
Let me step it back.
In interviewing 90 midlife spouses — gay, lesbian and heterosexual — to see if and how they encourage one another to get health check-ups, sociologist Corinne Reczek and her team discovered that gays and lesbians are really good at encouraging each another to go to the doctor. Hetero woman are also good at getting their hubby to be looked after.
And da menz? Well …
As it turns out, few do the same for their wives.
I wonder why.
At least one doctor, Dr. Michael Kochman, believes it’s a classically gendered thing — men don’t want to appear weak.
Men are invincible. We are the men of the house and many hold that to be the truth because they’re busy and it’s a sign of weakness to go to a physician, even when one is feeling well.”
So women have to nudge, or nag, them to take care of their health needs. And we all know how men just love to be nagged by their wife! But at least it gets them to do something about their health.
My mom nagged my dad to see the doc about his prostrate cancer for many years. She also researched and bought vitamins and other supplements he could take, and made various dietary changes, to help him. He reluctantly did what she said. He outlasted her by a few years.
But even if you don’t want to take care of your own well-being — or feel an obligation to “maximize lifetime” for your partner, as free soloist Alex Honnold says — don’t you want to at least make sure that your wife, your beloved, perhaps the mother of your children, is healthy?
And if not, why not?
While many men might indeed feel that they can take care of their own health themselves, I think a good part of what holds them back from caring for their wife’s health gets back to the concept caregiving and who does it; many men don’t see themselves as caregivers outside of bread-winning (which is a form of caregiving, sure). Many men, like society at large, see nurturing as a woman thing, even believing women are “naturally” that way (we are not). But they value women who are nurturing, especially if that nurturing is directed toward them. Many men become caregivers later in life, when a wife may suffer from dementia or Alzheimer’s, and their numbers are growing all the time.
Still, it’s disturbing that so many men throughout their marriage seem to be oblivious to their wife’s health needs.
And their children’s needs? Men sometimes say work conflicts make it hard to be involved in the well-being of their children, but they’d be more apt to do it if invited or encouraged to do so. And, more dads than ever are being active participants in their children’s well-being.
Just not their wife’s.
Still, why do men need to be invited or encouraged? Why do we have to have articles titled How to Motivate Men to Take Care of their Health, as if it’s someone else’s job to get a man to care about his own life?
In what way are we raising boys to be so oblivious to their health and the health of their loved ones?
But, back to the belief that marriage makes people healthy. Not really. Having people around you who who care enough about you to help you take care of yourself and support you in that effort, whether they’re your romantic partner or not, absolutely matters. Gays, lesbians and hetero women seem to have that down.
We’re just waiting on the hetero men …
Want to live your most authentic life within a romantic relationship? (Of course you do!) Then read The New I Do: Reshaping Marriage for Skeptics, Realists and Rebels (Seal Press). You can support your local indie bookstore or order it on Amazon.
Originally published at omgchronicles.vickilarson.com