January 28, 2007

So Not Stepford

I read the novel The Stepford Wives a few years ago and it ranks up there as one of the most disturbing books I've ever had the pleasure to hold. My poor husband had to listen to my ranting for days before I got over my indignation of a man actually preferring to be married to a bimbo robot (even if he was only a fictional character) than a flawed human woman.

(For those of you who haven't read the book, it's about a town where the men take over and turn all their wives into perfect, beautiful robots who cook, clean and compliment endlessly.)

Finally, I thought I'd gotten it out of my system. But tonight I saw the movie on t.v. and with sick curiosity I watched it to relive the horror. Although the producers threw on a feel-good ending to make it palatable for Hollywood, the premise remained the same. After the movie was over I wasn't sure how to feel. On the one hand I wanted to burn all the dresses in my house. On the other hand, I felt a strange urge to bake something spectacular for my husband. So I leave this blog up to you. I have a lot of questions that need answers. Help me out here.

1. Which of your partner's faults are you happy to keep around for your entire relationship? Which definitely need to go?

2. Why does having imperfections make us better people? Or do they? Don't we always hear that trying to improve makes us better people?

3. Who would say no to having their partner undergo an overhaul and spiff up a few of their characteristics to make them more charming, more considerate and more industrious?

4. Which of your personal imperfections do you want to keep? Why?

5. At what point do you decide a fault needs to be changed? Conversely, when can you just sit back and relish a weaknesses you have?

6. Why do many of us constantly feel the need to improve? Where does the pressure come from? When is it healthy and when is it unhealthy?

A few of these have me stumped. What do my all-wise readers think?


Marilee C. said...

I will put our relationship on a pedestal for one brief shining moment: I like to think that when we are at home we are equal partners in the house--doing equal amounts of work.

Allowing Jim the same amount of time to relax and unwind as I have during the day gives me great satisfaction.

After 13 years of marriage, annoying habits become something that is just a part of the person you love. Some things like the inability to coordinate an outfit or "see" that the kitchen is only half clean only make me shrug or giggle. I am painfully aware of my imperfections and fortunately, Jim has NEVER been the nagging type. He just likes to make me happy! As demonstrated by this comment--vanity is indeed one of my faults. Did I mention I am never wrong about anything?

Sarah said...

Hi Marilee! What a happy surprise to see you commenting on the blog :)

You do manage to have an unorthodoxly wonderful marriage - I'll have to check you for wires next time I'm in town...

Lady Steed said...

I think you need to go and watch the original 'Stepford Wives' movie from the seventies. It's truer to the book than then one you watched last night. I saw the older movie first, then had to read the book, then just saw the newer movie last Tuesday.

I must say that both Theric and I were very disturbed after watching the first movie. Neither of us could understand why someone would want to turn their wife into a mindless beautiful robot--your relationship would stop developing, you couldn't ever carry on a intelligent conversation and it would just get so boring after a while.

Sorry I didn't answer your questions. Go find and watch the original movie now.

citymama1 said...

I think it totally depends on the "imperfections". Imperfections can be both small and large. Sometimes little idiosyncricies can be seen as imperfections but I've found that they are the little details about a person that makes it interesting. However, I think there is nothing wrong with trying to change larger imperfections we may have if they are damaging to ourselves or our relationships. For example, if someone has a gambling habit you wouldn't want to just brush it aside. So, I guess to answer your last question, yes, I think it is healthy to want to improve oneself, as long as your trying to improve the right things.

1stdaughter said...

Sarah, its funny that you brought this up because last night Alan and I sat down to watch Good Will Hunting. He had never seen it and it was the edited TV version, so you could actually watch it without hearing them curse every other word.

Well, during a therapy session with Matt Damon and Robin Williams, Williams' character tells him about the things he remembers most about his wife who had died just 2 years before. It was great. He said that more than anything he remembered the dumb stuff, the annoying things that any normal person would think they couldn't put up with. One of them was that she farted any time she got nervous and while she was asleep. And infact had woken herself up one night by farting and he didn't have the heart to tell her it was her. But those were the things he remembered and cherished. The person we allow ourselves to be around no one else, but that one person who knows us better than anyone and loves us just the same for it.

After seeing that I think I had a new appreciation for all the little habits I have come to witness over the past few years with Alan and I don't think I would change even one.

Heather O. said...

One of the main problems with marriage (and, I imagine, the premise of that book) is that it is very,very difficult to change another person's behavior. Heck, I can barely get my DH to clean up the sink after he shaves, and I've been bugging him about it for almost 8 years. Why can't he just swish the sink clean of those gross clippings?
For his part, he hates that I throw my towel on the bed after I'm done with the shower. Why can't I just hang the towel up when I'm done with it?

But we don't do, these things to annoy our spouse--they are just habits that we've gotten into that are difficult to change. And, frankly, we've gotten to the point where I mostly just clean up the sink, and he mostly just hangs up my towel. It's easier that way.

But if it's this difficult to make the other person do something simple, it's monumentally hard to make them do something big. So usually, you're pretty much stuck with what you've got. It's a good argument for taking a good hard look at who you marry before you take the leap.

Lianne said...

Oh what questions you do pose... Frankly there are days when I wondered why I ever married a second time... then I remember he is nice (although sometimes being nice isn't enough).

We are a pretty stable couple... rarely argue, but then again, rarely have indepth conversations because we see the world so differently.

As someone said to me the other days, "Lianne, I believe you settled once again." Damn it!

A Payne said...

My husband is a workalholic and I wouldn't have it any other way.

The perfect spouse said...

I want to be beautiful and cook and clean and compliment endlessly. I just don't my husband to expect any of the above. I would defintely add creative, intelligent and idiosyncratic to the list of ideal attributes.

chronicler said...

1. Indulge my every whim.
2. If we didn't have imperfections, people couldn't live with us. Who wants to be around a smarty pants all the time???
3.Is that a What Not to Wear camera crew I see?
4. Oh heck, my cankles and period teeth have got to stay. If I didn't have them there wouldn't a thing wrong with me! ;-)
5. When I finally smother him with a pillow one night for snoring that one last snore, he'll know it's time to get that deviated septum fixed! Oh I can relish all my weaknesses, on the other hand.
6. Need to improve? Nah. Healthy when it's someone else, unhealthy when I'm invovled personally.

I may not be wise, but I sure ain't schtoopid neither!

That was fun Sarah!

Rachelle Black said...

Since this is my second and last attempt at wedded bliss, I have adopted the following philospphy when it comes to my spouse and his 'imperfections':

Don't sweat the small stuff.

I remember that all the small stuff ate away in my mind until they turned into huge, unsurmountable obstacles in my first try. A wonderful LDS therapist helped me to understand that marraige isn't fairy tale happy *most* of the time. It's the smallest portion that is sublime that we need to hold onto in our minds- and let the rest of it just fly away.

Hence, I am so much happier this time around and we both look the other way when one of us does something that is annoying :))
I will never be mistaken for a Stepford Wife- that is for sure!

Suzie Petunia said...

Sometimes I wish I was a happy, productive, pretty robot that complimented my husband constantly. Have I enraged you?

To be honest, this topic hits a little too close to home for me to be able to answer your questions at this time.

Amanda said...

I think that the main thing is to always be working on your own imperfections while trying to look past your spouse's. If you concentrate more on your own faults, at least you are in charge of doing the changing.

A good book on this subject is Dr. Laura's _Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands_. I read it after about 10 people told me that it totally helped their marriage. Even women who had been married 30 years or so said it vastly improved their relationship to start treating their husband like a super hero instead of a loser that they had settled for and were now stuck with. The book is a little extreme, but I think the principles in it are worth thinking about.