Saturday, February 18, 2012

Happiness Comes With a Price

For the past few weeks, I have been helping my daughter with a project for school. The project, Victorian England, has proven to be an extremely thought provoking one. Obviously the divide between the rich and the poor was a main topic of discussion, as was the reforms that were introduced to stop child labor, but the one topic I did not expect to deal with was that of the treatment of women.
My daughter began to notice that for the most part middle class and upper class girls were expected to be proper ladies, quiet and unassuming, sitting in the background sipping tea, reading or doing needlepoint. At her tender age of twelve, she still has a very simplistic view on romance and quite rightly so. I could see the excitement in her eyes as she relayed to me how the women find a suitor, how it was not right to meet the man in question alone, and how marriage was an achievement of one's skills.
What she did not see, of course, was that these women were objects, owned by their families and subsequently their husbands. We watched a few period dramas full of romances but I made sure some also had situations such as a young woman trying to elope with the love of her life, saving herself from a lifelong, loveless marriage to a man twenty years her senior, of good social standing and chosen by her father. I was not trying to dispel her image of love or family ties, just trying to let her see that life and love is not always simple. We cannot please others all the time and I wanted her to realize that sometimes doing the wrong thing for the right reasons may be your only course of action even if it seems an impossible task to her.
I have witnessed firsthand how a controlling person can consume another's life, filling it with doubts and fear, questioning their every move, waiting, watching, and always trying to get the upper hand. I have seen how it destroys a person's confidence so much that eventually they do not know how to handle themselves and crumble at the first sight of rejection. I don't want my daughter, or my son for that matter, to grow up thinking that they must do as others want them to do, especially when it comes to love.
Life today is not as rigid and the thought of living in Victorian England seems so antiquated but, if you think about it, how many women and men have you known or have heard of, that have found themselves feeling trapped in a relationship, not knowing which way to turn? I bet my bottom dollar many. Is it still not so that once married we do everything to save a relationship, even if it is to the cost of one's happiness and, heaven forbid, one's health? How many times have you heard the words 'my marriage failed' or 'single parent family' banded around as if it is a prison sentence?
Leaving a relationship for the right reasons is never a failure and being a single parent family is not a sin. It is better for the family to be healthy and happy than live in a fog of despair. We think we have come so far in these last two hundred years, yet feeling trapped in a relationship, due to social stigma or pressure from family and friends, is still prevalent today. I for one am going to help my children, letting them know that they should never feel trapped in any relationship. Freedom is their right.

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