“It’s not that I don’t believe in marriage,” my 96 year-old great aunt confided. “It’s just that my life got a lot better after my husband died’.
Marriage, for my great aunt, was simply too much work. And based on the endless lists of marriage advice flooding the internet and self-help bookshelves, things haven’t changed much in the last seventy years.
Just in case you’re unfamiliar with the genre, here’s a quick, yet surprisingly exhaustive summary to these articles and books:
1. Don’t try to change him
2. Work at it
3. Have sex even when you don’t want to
4. Work hard
5. Accept his flaws
6. Work harder
7. Don’t bitch and moan — even if he deserves it
8. Work even harder
9. Have low expectations
10. Keep working at it
There is an 11th piece of advice, although the authors of these articles rarely come right out and say it. The final piece of advice is that maintaining a marriage falls squarely and solely on the shoulders of women. In fact, from these lists, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the blokes are, at best, guests or, at worst, passive props that need to be manipulated.