What sounded like it might be an edgy, controversial post ended up doing little more than underscore sentimental, conventional values that harken back to, as the author says, pre-Walmart days and the pesky, modern demand for satisfaction (imagine that).
But look more closely and you’ll see it’s about something else altogether: A young, white male treading water, maybe even flailing a bit, in a cultural riptide, as he tries to figure out what it means to be a man and a husband in the 21st century. Marriage isn’t about him—that he’s right about. And it’s put him in a little over his head.
So you know by now that the piece is predicated on the wisdom that Seth Adam Smith, the clean-cut, all-American blogger from Alaska, received from his father when he started wondering if he was ready to get married, and if Kim was the one. “You don’t marry to make yourself happy, you marry to make someone else happy,” said Seth’s dad. “More than that, your marriage isn’t for yourself, you’re marrying for a family.”
Of course, that’s served up lots of fodder for debate, as it threatens to undo all the women’s movement has worked so hard TO do—give women the right to choose what’s right for them (which may or may not include marriage)—by implying that real love isn’t about you at all. And that marriage is a lifelong favor you pay to someone else.
Just Imagine If a Woman Wrote That
Fail to consider and seriously question your own happiness in any commitment and you risk a life of misery. The road to hell, as they say, is paved with good intentions—and that includes marriage vows that were served up in hopes it was what the other person wanted.
Now stop for a minute and imagine if a woman wrote this piece. You can guess at the outrage. Even women who don’t call themselves feminists would get queasy. But I digress.
Seth recalls his father’s wisdom during a “rough patch” he and his wife experienced during their first year of marriage, which inspired the post.
But what you don’t know from the article itself is the REASON they hit a rough patch (which he did talk about on HuffPost Live). Turns out his wife got accepted to school…in Florida. So they had to relocate across the country, and Seth, frankly, wasn’t psyched about it. He became hardened and resentful (his words), until the shit hit the fan and I’m guessing ol’ Seth said some things he wasn’t so proud of.
Instead of throwing a dish at him, his lovely wife shows herself to be the true embodiment of selfless love, and envelops him in her arms instead. That’s when Seth realizes he’s been a real douchebag, and resolves to be better, recalling his dad’s words of infinite wisdom.
This is hardly new territory. But it’s new to SETH. And new to lots of men. After all, women have been accommodating and pleasing and pushing their own needs and wants onto the back burner for as long as anyone can remember. But a dude says, “Look what I did! I realized I’m not the center of the world!” and he’s catapulted to internet stardom and met with instant, widespread praise.
Let’s not forget that the reason Seth got all pouty to begin with was because HE HAD TO DO SOMETHING HE DIDN’T WANT TO, like relocate far away, and not for his career, but for hers.
This isn’t about love. This is about control, meaning, self. Seth flew off the handle precisely at that moment when he realized—my God—he wasn’t getting what he wanted, and that his wife was calling the shots (to some degree, anyway). Seth went to bed in Florida or Alaska or wherever, and woke up in Hanna Rosin’s house (you know, the woman who declared the End of Men).
With more and more women finding themselves the breadwinners, or at the very least having as many attractive and lucrative offers as their spouses, more men are going to find themselves in this exact same place, looking for reasons for why it’s ok that their role is changing—whether that means following their wives’ careers, or just having a little less say in how things go down than they have historically.
So, how do you resolve that cognitive dissonance? You make what you’re doing to cope with it a virtue, and seek validation for it—which is exactly what he’s done. And what we’ve given him.