June 24, 2010

A.J. Jacobs on Marriage

For those of you who haven't heard of A.J. Jacobs, he's a writer who has made a living on writing articles for Esquire as well as turning his life into an experiment. For example: he spent a year "living biblically" (dressing, eating, living like they did in the Bible) for a novel. In his most recent book "The Guinea Pig Diaries: My Life as an Experiment," Jacobs set out doing small experiments for a month at a time over the course of a year. The final experiment was project "Ideal Husband aka Whipped" where he did everything his wife asked for a month.

He makes references to how there is no history of a matriarchal society and "wifely obedience was pretty much synonymous with marriage." He quotes Confucius saying a wife is "one who submits to another" and Stephanie Coontz who wrote: "Romans opposed gay marriage not because of homosexuality, which they had no problem with, but because 'no real man would ever agree to play the subordinate role demanded of a Roman wife.'" And while these statements are interesting and relate to readings from class, the statement I found most indicative of symbolic interactionism is:

"...behavior shapes your thoughts. My brain sees me giving a gift to Julie. My brain concludes I must really love her. I love her all the more. Which means I'm happier in my relationship, if a bit poorer."

Jacobs reaches this conclusion after his wife has requested him to bring her gifts daily. She had specifically asked for flowers initially, but changed it to "gifts of any kind will do." This shows how we have been socialized to believe that gifts are symbols of love. Julie thought her husband needed to prove his love by purchasing something. A.J. not only believes these gifts are symbols of his love, but he percieves the excitement over gift-giving to be their source of happiness.

Thanks to chickspeak.com for the image.

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