In the early years of my marriage, and even before that, when my ex husband and I were dating (ie. when things were good) I would open the New York Times style section to read the Modern Love column. The “vows” section, a two page spread of wedding announcements, didn’t interest me, although for some reason I’d quickly glance at the couples’ last names to locate inter-faith marriages (foreshadowing?). Sometimes I’d read the feature story to learn how the couple met, or what they did for a living. The feature story seemed to be reserved for power players or socialites, and I must have been intrigued by how they were able to “have it all” – a successful career, good looks, and of course, true love.
During the period when my marriage was on the rocks, I found myself perusing the vows section more closely. I did this when my husband wasn’t around, to avoid detection (some people sneak porn; I’d sneak wedding announcements). I’d study the photographs of the happy glowing couples and would experience a brief pang of yearning.
After my divorce, I didn’t even think to read this section, and when I did happen to come across it I’d roll my eyes. Sounds bitter I know, but at that point I saw things differently. Or rather, I felt I saw through things – I saw past the shiny idyllic surface and guessed there was more going on than meets the eye. It strengthened my view that the media – books, movies, magazines – glorified marriage, and presented is as some fairytale illusion.
I considered blogging on this subject last week, and then something in today’s vow’s section sealed the deal. The feature story was about the marriage of a guy named Matt Kay to a woman named Sascha Rothchild. Ms. Rothchild is the author of the book ‘How to Get Divorced by 30.’
Yep. She got divorced, published a memoir about it, and then married again – announcing it in the vows section. How’s that for irony?
It made me question who actually reads this section. Women who have never been married and hope to someday? Or is it women in unhappy marriages who read it? Do men? If you don’t know the people in it, how is it any more interesting than reading the classifieds when you’re not job hunting? Or stock listings when you’re broke?
You might be wondering why I found myself reading it today. It was the feature story that drew my attention. If a woman who has experienced divorce (a kind of shattering of the wedding fantasy) is able to re-embrace the joys of marriage, come full circle, and announce it to the world, then maybe the vows section has a purpose. Perhaps its staying power is as strong, and as hopeful, as a long lasting marriage.
Do you ever read this section and stop to wonder what it says about you?