As a young woman of the Social Networking age, it’s hard not to be familiar with this Marilyn Monroe quote. Pretty much every stereotypical college girl has posted it as their status at some point:
Marilyn being infamous as she is, I had kind of forgotten about her and her valuable sayings until I ran across these words on a family member’s page recently. Looking at them now, with a year of motherhood and a year+ of marriage under my belt, I have to say one thing.
No wonder people are so unhappy in their relationships.
I get that the point is that people are valuable and you shouldn’t treat them poorly, which is not something I’d argue with. What really disturbs me about this quote, and what I am going to argue with, is that people take it to be saying a woman should be able to treat you however she wants and if you don’t put up with her crap, you don’t deserve to be together.
I am this woman. Okay- not as iconically beautiful as Marilyn- but I have my moments where I can be awful. Losing patience with my sweet, innocent child. Making snide remarks to my husband about his mistakes. Bringing up arguments that aren’t fair to bring up. Married life brings it all out, ladies. I used to think I was a pretty nice person until I got married… Now I see that I’m only a nice person when compared to a Komodo Dragon. I’ll even confess that I had some faith in this fairy-tale notion Marilyn describes, where a man is so head-over-heels for a woman he’ll put up with just about anything to see her smile. Doesn’t that sound nice?
That’s not the case.
The truth is that it does matter how you treat your significant other. The impact of selfishness, impatience, and lack of self-control has a drastic effect on the quality of a marriage (I’m speaking from experience here). Not thinking twice before you say or do something hurtful to someone you love can have devastating consequences. If you’re married, those consequences don’t necessarily come in the form of your spouse walking out on you. They come as bittnerness. Resentment. Anger. Depression. Emotions and behaviors that cripple a marriage, that weaken the bonds you forged to each other. After the fact, there is guilt. Guilt because there is nothing you can do to take back a word or an action that has hurt someone you deeply care for. And there’s no one but you to blame.
So treating someone horribly and claiming THEY are the problem if they can’t deal with it? Not going to go well for you.
Luckily, compassion and forgiveness are integral parts of love. (If Jesus has taught anything by example, it’s that!) The gift of forgiveness is so healing, so extraordinary, that it shouldn’t be taken for granted in any relationship. Take responsibility for your actions. I don’t much enjoy the notion that women can’t control themselves and act like maniacs who are so beautiful they are “worth it”. What about striving to be “your best”? What about trying to be patient, have confidence, and make a positive difference in every encounter? Owning up to your mistakes? Not making excuses? Accepting that you aren’t perfect but trying the best you can? I can guarantee you and your spouse will be happier if you at least try for those things, even if you don’t always succeed.
Is that what Marilyn was trying to say?