I sat comfortably at my desk, sipping on my morning coffee, scrolling through my Facebook feed as I do every morning while mentally preparing myself for another mind-numbingly monotonous day at the office, when I happened upon a post which caught my attention.
This post elicited a strong emotional response from me, but not for the reasons you probably think. First, let me just say that if devoting all of his time and energy to making Angelina happy makes Brad happy, then more power to him. I’m certainly not in the business of telling people how to live their lives. At least, not any more. Not that Brad would care what I think about his life anyhow.
That being said, let me carefully dissect this quote.
The very crux of Brad’s words is something I’ve struggled with before. In the past, I’ve had the responsibility for another’s happiness laid bare at my feet. I was told it was my responsibility to keep another soul happy. I was told I wasn’t doing enough to make that person happy. I was also told nothing specific about how to make that person happy; that I needed to figure it out on my own. The problem with that is, if I’m living for someone else I’m not living for myself. If I’m focused on another’s happiness, I cannot focus on my own. I have a problem with that. I have only one life to live (YOLO!) and I have no intention of spending that life dedicated to the happiness of another.
I think it’s great that Brad recognized his bride was in such dire straights. It means that he cares about and pays attention to her. How he addressed the situation, however, is where he lost me.
In this trooper’s Imperial opinion, every single being is responsible for his or her own happiness. Nobody should be dependent on others to make them happy. It’s no one else’s job. If you’re unhappy you need to peer into your soul, into your heart, and discover what pieces are missing from your happiness equation. Quite frankly, depending on others to make you happy is the very epitome of selfishness. You’re making others do work you should be doing for yourself.
Brad says “I began to shower her with flowers, kisses and compliments. I surprised and pleased her every minute. I gave her a lot of gifts and lived just for her. I spoke in public only about her. I incorporated all themes in her direction. I praised her in front of her own and our mutual friends.” That’s great, but when did he have time for him? When did he do the things that he wanted or needed to do? At what point can he possibly live for himself if he’s busy living for her? Why is it his responsibility to cater to her every desire?
Relationships are hard. They require a great deal of effort to maintain. One party should not be putting in all the work while the other reaps all the benefits. Brad would have done better for her in the long run if he had encouraged her to seek professional help. She was obviously unwell if her weight had dropped to 90 pounds and she consistently carried bags under her eyes. Lack of sleep and loss of appetite are two very common symptoms of depression. She needed professional help, not shameless asskissery. Perhaps showering her with love and making her the center of his universe has eased the symptoms she was experiencing, but what happens when she’s no longer the center of his universe? What happens when he inevitably tires of living for her? What happens when he’s no longer there to worship her like she’s some sort of goddess? What happens when he’s away filming a movie? Or, as Hollywood couples frequently do, they split up? Who will be responsible for her happiness then?
Brad also goes on to say, “the woman is the reflection of her man.” That statement, more than any other words in this quote, disturb me the most. A woman, or a man for that matter, should only be a reflection of her, or his, self. Does he seriously think that Angelina should look in the mirror and see a reflection of him? That she should see his morals and values instead of her own? That she should see his likes and dislikes? That she can only experience happiness if he’s there to provide it? Poppycock, I say. A good relationship is equal. A good relationship involves give and take. A good relationship requires the mutual effort of both parties. A good relationship encourages and supports the individuality of each partner. A good relationship requires two people who both know what makes them happy and a willingness to let each other explore those things which make them happy.
This Facebook post has been shared over 1.1 million times in the past 6 months. I can only assume that most of the people who shared it did so because they agreed with Brad’s sentiments or thought it was extremely romantic on Brad’s part to spoil his woman. Frankly, the idea that women should be so spoiled by their men, an idea which is perpetuated by books and movies, is unrealistic and makes for lopsided relationships. I was once expected to do all sorts of romantic things for a particular woman. Things that she never, ever did for me. I found it hypocritical that she expected things of me she would never reciprocate. I was indignant to have the responsibility for her happiness thrust into my hands and told to nurture it with romantic deeds.
I am by no means suggesting that a man should not take the time and effort to occasionally do something extraordinarily nice for his wife. Flowers. A surprise date. A romantic note. A loving poem. A thoughtful gift. But a relationship is a two-way street and a woman should be equally willing to return those romantic deeds. This idea that it is solely incumbent upon the man to stoke the flames of love is ludicrous, especially in these days of equality. This may surprise you, ladies, but men like to feel loved, too. We appreciate a kind gesture just as much as you do.
As you can tell, pretty much everything about this quote rubbed me the wrong way. Quotes like this perpetuate the idea that it’s a man’s job to make a woman happy while strengthening the idea that a woman cannot, and should not, make herself happy. That idea grates on my nerves like nails across a chalkboard. Woman can and should make themselves happy by finding and doing whatever it is that makes them happy. Whether you’re a man or a woman, you are responsible for your own happiness and any partner you have who does not support you in that endeavor is not the right partner.
Wise words? Hardly. Those seem more like destructive words to me.