An Amateur Dissertation on Marriage and Pop Culture

I wrote this in response to an episode of The Popcast, run by my friends Jamie and Knox. No one asked me to write a 1200 word essay and beam it into their inbox, but I did it anyway. Bless their hearts. I don't know why they tolerate me. Anyway, what follows is what I am calling a dissertation, which I wrote in an attempt to sort out my whirlwind of thoughts slinging around in my head while I listened to the podcast episode. It's one of those things I wrote quickly -- you know in that way when your fingers can't move as fast as the words that are pouring out of your brain -- so if there are loopholes, there are loopholes. Hence the word "amateur" in the title. But I kind of like talking about this, so if you have any additional thoughts or "but wait--"s, bring it on.

Okay, enough disclaimers. Here are my thoughts regarding marriage and whether it can be accurately represented in pop culture -- TV, movies, celebrities or otherwise -- and whether or not age makes a difference in readiness for marriage.


So here’s the thing about marriage: it makes no sense whatsoever.

Seriously. If you think about it, binding two human beings together with different feelings and preferences and dreams and fears together for their entire lives seems kind of insane. I mean yes, weddings and fairytales are great and all that but really, the institution of marriage itself—it’s crazy.

I’m not really sure why anyone would stay married, or get married at all, unless they had a greater reason to do so. For me, there’s a greater reason. Whether I realized it or not when I said “I do,” (I was having a moderate panic attack at the time so I’m fairly certain I nothing but “please don’t let me pass out in these red high heels” was running through my mind but that’s neither here nor there), there is something bigger than my husband or me holding this thing together. There’s something bigger than us giving us a reason to keep fighting, to not just up and leave rooms when having discussions, to not walk away, to dig through the conversations and all the emotions until we arrive at a place where, even if there is no solution, we at least SEE each other.

That doesn’t happen on T.V.

It’s hard to try to find a marriage reflected on T.V. that reflects what I think marriage should strive to look like, because most of them are not based on the same grid as mine. I see my marriage and marriage in general through a frame of Jesus. So all my views are colored by that.

If you’re not a Christian, honestly, to go back to my first point, I have no idea why you would get married. Again: the institution itself makes. no. sense. I guess if you just want someone to load the dishwasher the wrong way and snore too loudly and sit next to you watching TV shows you may or may not agree on for the rest of your life, which I suppose isn’t bad, but you can do that without getting up in front of people, (potentially even at a church, which again doesn’t make sense to me if you’re not a believer) filling out paperwork and vowing to live with the same person forever.

But if you are a Christian, 1) marriage is meant to refine you, sanctify you, make you more like Jesus (TRUST ME you find out real quick you’re not the saint you thought you were) and 2) marriage is meant to be a picture of Christ and the church to the rest of the world. Marriage is meant to show the world what grace and sacrificial love look like. To make people wonder what is different about us.

I don’t know why you wouldn’t just throw in the towel and say ‘eff this noise, this junk is hard’ if you weren’t a Christian. But if you are, you can say, ‘ok, self, this person is God’s perfect provision for me — not a perfect person, but the person I (and God — in a mystery I don’t quite understand — free will vs sovereignty and all that) chose and made a commitment to in front of God and all our loved ones. We promised God we would stick this out. That we would be partners. That we would love one another wholly — not in a 50/50 compromise kind of way (which most T.V. shows seem to tout as a healthy relationship), but 100% sacrificially. So I’m going to go back in that room and we’re going to talk about our feelings, DANG IT.’ And you can do that because you know the other person isn’t going to walk out the door at the first sign of trouble or discord because they made the same promise as you did — to stay.

This is why an example-worthy marriage is not represented on T.V. It’s barely even represented in real life — if there is no basis of Jesus, I don’t know how you could even begin to represent what marriage should look like. Marriage was invented by God, after all, and a wedding is a religious ceremony but LET’S NOT GO THERE, shall we?

The closest we get on T.V. is Tami and Eric Taylor (Friday Night Lights if you've been living under a rock--and if so stop reading this immediately and go start the pilot on Netflix), and Kristina and Adam Braverman (Parenthood). And the main reason why is simply because their marriages are full of grace. They mess up and they forgive one another. Over and over. They’re a team, no matter what. Their marriage is the priority, even over their children when it comes down to it, and they fight for it. That’s not the norm for our culture. Or celebrities, which is why I also don’t include celebrity marriages in my list of role models. Like, you guys go ahead and get married in Italy and have your kids’ ugly drawings sewn on your veil by blind nuns or whatever but don’t expect me to act like this is something I’m supposed to believe is the pinnacle of commitment and unconditional love.

ABOUT THE AGE THING: I think even though I was young when I got married (22), I at least understood that I was making a commitment. A choice. The whole reason I decided I was okay with getting married after all my “but how do I KNOW if he’s THE ONE?”-ing was that I was taught by a wiser person that it’s not about “The One,” it’s about making a commitment. They are “The One” simply due to the fact that you are marrying them. That makes them The One. You chose them. You said, 'yes, I am going to commit to this person for life and fight for our relationship no matter what.' I think I at least understood that on some level. Plus, I’m a commitment type of gal. I like consistency and I tend to pick people and stick with them in all areas of life.

So I think age doesn’t matter as long as you understand that you’re not just "taking the next step” — you’re making a commitment. You’re vowing to God and to the other person to stick with them, be on their team, have grace for them and love them unconditionally to the best of your ability, despite any difficult circumstance, for the rest of your life.

Again, I don’t think that would truly resonate with you unless you are a believer. Otherwise you just kind of take a leap based on your feelings and hope for the best. Fingers crossed, hoping you won’t “end up divorced.” Of course there are always extenuating circumstances. I’m not saying Christians should never ever get divorced. I’m just saying we should fight for marriage rather than give up on it.

And, in my opinion, couples on T.V. give up too easily. I have watched Joel Graham walk out of a room in a huff on Julia Braverman about 800 times this season of Parenthood (5)* and that’s not an option after only 3 minutes of talking. I’m sorry. It’s just not.

TL; DR: 1) You can’t separate a healthy marriage from Christianity and the ideals it represents, in my opinion, and this is why it is not represented in pop culture generally. and 2) I got married young but I understood the whole commitment thing so I think as long as you understand that, age doesn’t matter.

What do you think? Can a healthy marriage be truthfully represented in pop culture? Do you think age matters when it comes to getting married?

*I was still on season 5 when I wrote this.


P.S. Subscribe to The Popcast. You'll laugh, you'll yell at your car stereo, you'll sigh exasperated sighs. It's great. 

Hear Ye, Hear Ye [An Announcement]

Hey guys. I have an announcement. It won't be a long one, don't worry. Not like when they tell you at a seminar or at church or something that they have "brief announcements" that then go on for 30 minutes. This is like an actual brief announcement. But then again, it's me, and I ramble. So godspeed.

The announcement is this: starting next week I will post just once a week here. [I know this news will rock you to your core, so I give you permission to go home early today if you need to. I'm sure your boss will understand.]

(For those of you who don't anxiously await my words in your inbox or RSS reader every week (aka probably most of you), I typically post twice, just to give you some perspective.)

I'm reassessing my goals for this site as well as my blogging, and I think this makes the most sense for me, considering how much time I'm spending doing it vs. how much tangible value I'm gaining from it. Not to say blogging isn't valuable. It is, and I very much enjoy it. I feel like I've grown a lot as a writer and I've actually made some real life friends because of it. But additionally I'm trying to do some not-as-public work (i.e. freelancing, fiction work-in-progress) on top of my day job and blogging, and I'm running out of lunch hours, free evening hours, and (newly added) 6ams to squeeze in all that I want to work on.

SO all that to say, keep checking back for weekly posts here, and I hope that in redirecting the time I'd normally spend writing a second post, I will have some other projects to share with you in the not-too-distant future. Meanwhile I will also still be contributing over at the (newly remodeled) Xtra Bacon, so be sure to subscribe to the podcast and RSS feed there as well.

SIDEBAR PLUG: If you or anyone you know is in need of a writer or editor for a project or on an ongoing basis, let me know! I'd love to see if I could help out. (Including, but not limited to: articles, bios, blog posts, website copy, editing ebooks or any of the aforementioned projects, captioning your Instagram photos for you...I'm your girl.)

Since you came all the way to my blog today and all you got was this rotten announcement, here is a gif of some bunnies in cups:


SIDEBAR comments question: What show are you most excited to see come back in the fall? Or what new show are you excited to try out? I'll go first: I've been rewatching the first season of New Girl on Netflix and I cannot wait for it to return!

Playing Catch Up

So, guys, I have a confession to make. I didn't write a post for today.

I know, I know. I'm the worst.

But I have this whole day job thing and it's been quite busy lately and I literally didn't have time.

So tomorrow I will make it up to you by writing the best post you've ever read in your life. Or, y'know, ramblings about something I saw on the Internet. It could go either way.

But until then, please enjoy my recaps of Dancing with the Stars from the last two weeks over at Xtra Bacon if you haven't already:

Xtra Bacon's First (And Probably Last) DWTS Recap

DWTS Recap: Razzle Dazzle and Razz-a-mataz

And if you have, please enjoy some of my older posts that I still kind of like:

The Legend of Furby

Falling Apart When Your Bible Isn't

The Ballad of Spencer Pratt (With Actual Rhymes)

Five Reasons 3D Makes Me Hate My Life For 3 Hours

Dear Chris Brown: That's Enough Out of You 

Thank you for your understanding, and may your day be free of Rihanna songs.

On the Massacre in Aurora, Colorado

I realize you may have read twelve blog posts or articles about the tragedy in Colorado by now. I also realize it might be somewhat cheesy to address something that so many others are already doing. I won't be telling you anything you don't know. It might be pointless. But I feel compelled to write a response to what has happened, and also I can't write something funny when my heart feels this heavy. I'm angry.

I'm angry at James Holmes. Like, livid-angry.

I don't know why this tragedy above all others is hitting me so hard. It makes me want to sob and scream at the same time.

I think it might be because it happened during something so ordinary.

When I think about the fact that all these 71 people wanted to do was watch the new Batman movie like everyone else in the country and they ended up losing their lives, my heart gets caught in my throat. They went to a movie and never came back.

All because some psychotic maniac thought it was his decision whether they lived or died.

How dare you, James. Who do you think you are?

How dare you think that just because you have some nonsense to prove, or were hurt by other people, or just see reality as fiction, that you have any sort of claim on anyone else's life.

Not only did you steal 12 lives, but you ruined at least 59 more, not to mention their family and friends.

Every time they see a Batman poster or the DVD in Target, they'll remember this day. It will probably take them years to even feel remotely comfortable walking in a theater again. They will have to go to therapy, both physical and emotional. They will be frightened. They will feel anxious. You have scarred them for life. You have left an irrevocable, deep bruise on their soul that may never heal.

And your stupid photo. Every time I see it I want to punch that damn arrogant smirk right off your idiot face. You stare at us from that photo like you're proud of yourself. I look in your eyes and this indignant burning sensation wells up in my stomach. How. Dare. You.

I can't even think of a word bad enough to call you, and I don't usually say those kinds of words at all. But you deserve it. You deserve much, much more than that.

There are some things that, in terms of consequences, are unforgivable. I hope your fate matches the gravity and pure evil of the horror you have committed. I believe that God can and will forgive you if you ask for it, but I also believe that God gives the government the authority to punish this kind of heinous crime, and I hope it does.

Despite all this, I believe God is good. I believe he is the source of all comfort and walks with us through the darkest of times, because he has for me and he has for my friends. I can't imagine what this feels like to walk through, whether a family member or friend of a victim, or a victim themselves.

But this world is not our home. Take heart, for Christ has overcome death. Even the darkness is not dark to God (Ps. 139).

He is our only hope and joy in a world that presses in on all sides and crushes our souls. Thank God for his unending grace. Thank God that he is sovereign and cares about our individual hearts. Thank God that he made a way for us to be reconciled to him so we can be delivered from the wretchedness that surrounds us on this earth. But thank God also that there is still love. There is still life and happiness and friendship. There is still community, and we walk through these times hand in hand with the common bond of suffering.

Psalm 46 says,

"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea…"

In a lot of ways, when we look at the world, it feels like the earth has given way and the mountains are being moved into the heart of the sea. But we will not fear, for our God is greater.

Things that don't help you if you're being arraigned.

Brought to you by my friend Noelle’s experience interning at a District Attorney’s office. 1. Not showing up.

2. Having your mother kindly explain your absence by saying “he in a chain-gang.”

3. When the judge calls you because your lawyer isn’t present, you answer “which one is this?”

4. When he replies that it is the meth-related case, you say, “not the grand theft auto?”

5. Responding to your name with “yo.”

6. Dressing like a criminal.

7. Having your family members try to get you out of it by complaining to the DA’s office receptionist.

8. Bringing your two-year-old (and/or baby) to court.

9. Requesting a new public defender. (Beggars can’t be choosers.)

10. Asking if the District Attorney’s receptionist knows who your lawyer is.


11. Talk incessantly when it is not your turn.

12. Suck your thumb.

On the origin of hamsters

I have recently become interested in the origin of hamsters. This came about because of a conversation over coffee with my friends Nicole and Jennifer. I mean, think about it. Have you ever seen a wild hamster? Are they just genetically engineered from some other types of rodents to be pets? Did we capture all the wild hamsters left in 2001 and force them to do the hamster dance on our computer screens for our own amusement?

I decided to investigate.

So I went where all good sleuths go: Wikipedia.

There I found a plethora of information about hamsters.

Here are some fun facts about hamsters:

1. They were first described scientfically in 1839, but it wasn’t until 1930 that researchers were successfully able to breed and domesticate hamsters.

2. They originally came from Syria.

3. Wild hamsters (they apparently exist!) burrow in the ground during the day to avoid predators.

4. Wild hamsters (i love that phrase) are considered a “vulnerable species” on the scale of endangerment.

Thus begins my campaign to save the wild hamsters. Because, let’s face it, now that I know that the phrase “wild hamsters” is legitimate, I don’t ever want it to be inapplicable or cease to exist.

So there you have it, folks. Things you didn’t know about hamsters. You can find out more fun facts about hamsters and their eating habits here.

NOTE: This is a real picture of a wild hamster that I found on the internet. Look how sad he is because he is vulnerable! Also probably because a giant human is taking a picture of him in the daytime, where he is obviously exposed to predators. Save the (sad) wild hamsters!