Whaddup 3M Fam,
Jack here and today I’m gonna brag about how many wedding blogs/articles I’ve read in the past year. Not because I’m proud of it or because I’m somehow a marriage expert at this point (I’m not, somehow I feel like I know less now…). There are just a lot of things we need to talk about when it comes to the stuff we’re reading online.
First, I acknowledge that producing a marriage blog isn’t easy. So I’m not here to just take a huge dump on the rest of the marriage blogs out there because I think we’re better than them. We’re not. We’re the new kids in town and the size of our following is humble, but mighty. I’m just a little bit concerned about what I’m reading. Because I care.
I care about my marriage, which is why I read a handful of marriage-related articles every day. I care about your marriage, which is why I carefully select helpful, innovative, and progressive articles to share on our social media pages. But most importantly, I care about doing right by all married and future-married people out there. Which is why it’s time for me to say some unpopular things.
In general, the vast majority of marriage blogs are failing you. Divorce rates continue to rise, marriage rates continue to fall, and both institutions are just as expensive as ever. So what have marriage blogs been helpful for? A few things I can think of:
1. Marriage blogs are too religious.
Often, our conversations about marriage are dominated by traditionalist concepts and a lot of scripture. There’s a reason why. It’s because most marriage blogs are essentially owned by the Christian church. As a person of faith myself, I still think that this is a problem for the institution of marriage. There are plenty of people in the US (38.6% of Americans according to Pew Research Center) that don’t identify with religion at all and that number is growing. Millennials in particular are becoming less interested in any religious affiliation. With that being said, our goal at #ANNIEGOESJACK is to provide a space where the religious and nonreligious alike can engage in a dialogue about marriage based mostly in science and our collective stories. To us, that’s important for a blog that aims to help all marriages thrive.
2. Marriage blogs are too heteronormative.
Annie and I have read through so many marriage articles and all of the mainstream posts are geared towards women marrying men. They rely on outdated gender tropes. They seem to explain almost every concept through the lens of the gender binary. “Women love to shop” and “Men love to watch sports.” Today, we can’t all relate to that. Love is much more diverse. We can marry who we like (gender be damned), and can freely live out our lives in ways that subvert these gender-based stereotypes. But, the rhetoric of marriage blogs hasn’t kept up. Men are the leaders, women take care of the home, LGBTQ marriages are not real marriages, and for whatever reason, we all watch Fixer Upper on HGTV. That’s the story of married people and it’s time to revise it because marriage looks differently for everyone. Speaking of which...
3. Marriage blogs are too white.
I get it. Most of America is white, and as a minority you don’t need to remind me. Why so many photos of cute, white couples online? It’s as if these blogs aim to perpetuate a Ken & Barbie ideal for us all. And here’s the thing, it’s not even just that most of the photos on wedding blogs are of white people--it’s much deeper than that. When you visit most marriage blogs, you’ll notice that the aesthetic is very white, the essence is white, even the rhetoric of their “helpful” articles are very much from the white experience. I can tell because as a Filipino American who was forced to assimilate to white culture, I’m fluent in both. People of Color are forced to read about marriage in ways that don’t speak to their culture/experience. Our standards of beauty, economics, and most importantly, identity, become dictated by a white source. A source that wants to take our money, but doesn’t care to accept us because we don’t quite fit into their idea of glamorous.
4. Marriage blogs are too glamorous.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about browsing through amazing wedding photos on Instagram just like the rest of you. My heart is not made of stone. But does our love for glamor always have to be at the forefront? It seems like that’s the only reason why people subscribe to marriage blogs. They want to see the happy, white couples and their first looks. They want to read about the “5 Best Tropical Getaways.” All of these things are fun and they get people excited about marriage--I can’t be mad at that. I’m frustrated because marriage culture has become more about showing off and being flashy. Instead, it should be about authenticity and being vulnerable. Most real marriages are not glamorous. And marriage blogs have a responsibility to share that story in a way that helps people. Blogs focus too much on the blissful wedding (a one day thing) and not enough on the messiness that follows (an everyday thing).
5. Marriage blogs are too simple.
Marriage blogs always have these click-baity titles that make you think they’ll solve all of your problems, when really they’re not equipped to do that. It’s sexy to write a blog about “5 Ways to Not Get Divorced” or “12 Mistakes Every Husband Makes,” but in reality these articles are discouragingly vague. No one gets real with you about how hard marriage is and no one dares to go into depth or detail. Annie and I want to be different in that regard. We want to be honest about our struggles without offering easy answers. We think it’s more important to create a space to ask the right questions. That way, you’ll always feel like you’re coming to answers/truths that feel right for your personal marriage and not some one-size-fits-all solution.
Marriage blogs have an obligation to not just celebrate or glamorize marriage, but also to ensure that marriages actually succeed. Even from a non-altruistic standpoint, everyone benefits when marriages are healthy. It’s up to us to inform the media we consume, as opposed to the other way around. Marriage blogs fail us because we let them fail us. But if we stand together and demand that they put out content that’s socially responsible, we’ll see them make a huge difference. #ANNIEGOESJACK is just one small voice crying in the wilderness, but our hope is to inspire everyone through the support of a dedicated few. We hope that you read this and and maybe stand up to the next post you see online that’s being a little too sexist, too materialistic, or too conventional.
If you’ve read this far, we trust that you’re here for something more. You hope to be part of something bigger. Help us change the face of marriage. Help us spread our ideas so that traditionalist blogs can’t dominate the conversation. A simple like, share, or word of mouth recommendation is all that it takes--that’s the power we have if we choose to use it. It’s like John Legend once said:
“We’re the generation who can’t afford to wait. The future started yesterday and we’re already late.”
Bloggers don’t create anything. The good ones are just able to reflect what’s already happening in the world. Marriage blogs will never have all of the answers--ours included. The only worthwhile answer comes directly from your own voice. Annie and I are just proud to be here as your mouthpiece. So speak up, already. We’re here to listen.
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Annie & Jack
Love. Marriage. Teamwork. Art. Offsetting the patriarchal footprint. These are some of the things we're thinking about.