Marrying Up—Marrying Down

wedding-ring-pictures-and-pricesThe grandfather of newlyweds said it all when he remarked: “They married for better or for worse—he could do no better—she could do no worse.” But then there is the 1974 hit song by Billy Preston, “Nothing from nothing leaves nothing,” where he says, “You gotta have something if you want to be with me.” Amarillo’s Channel 4 News anchor, Andy Justus, opened the door to this column with his recent remarks on his Studio 4 show. He showed a picture of himself and his wife and said that he married “way out of his league.” What he meant, or what I think he meant was that he “married up.” President Obama said the same thing when said that he married Michele to improve his gene pool.

So what is marrying up? Is this a stickey-wickey—not worth talking about in this new era of “love whoever you want to?” What we know is that marrying “proper” is as old as human families. Royalty should not marry riff-raff. Folks on the “po side of town” a la Elvis’ song, or the elevator operator, should not expect to marry the CEO’s daughter. Throughout history, “love with the proper stranger” was nixed by arranged marriages. In fact some of the most brutal family murders of young girls have come over relationships, with the “wrong person” that were not approved by a father especially, i.e., dishonoring the family.

So what about “marrying up, and marrying down?” The perfect marriage should be where two people can point to each other and say, “I married up.” It is not a good sign when family members remark during the couple’s wedding dance, “What the hell did she ever see in him?” It is also not a good sign when the new groom is referred to as a potential “sorry husband.” Strangely, this term is rarely used to describe a wife. After all, doesn’t the Bible say that “he who finds a wife finds a good thing?” No such thing is said about finding a husband. Wonder why? So how do people marry up? Marry a preacher? Marry a white person? Marry someone light-skinned—with “good hair?” Marry the boss’s daughter? Remember the marriage of the late Diana Spencer and Prince Charles? Remember all the early talk about Diana being something of a commoner? Remember that Diana later revealed that she felt that she was living in a glass house, always under a microscope trying to live up the her “royal image?” Well, a big old divorce ended her misery.

So is it “right” to judge people in a “marrying up and marrying” down sort of way? Should marriages still be about protecting the “blood line,” the family lineage? What we know is that historically there were two lines drawn in the sand on marriages—watch out for skin color and class status. The matter of same-gender marriage was never a line drawn in the sand because until the 21st century same-sex people did not marry each other—for the obvious reason—the need to procreate naturally. And if the last 5000 years of our ancestors were to look at the current same-sex “marital aberration,” that would probably ask, WTF?

So again, should anyone be judgmental about any aspect of another person before they marry? And if not why are there so many online dating sites, including, Why can’t royalty marry the riff-raff? Why can’t a young college educated woman, making a good salary marry the janitor at her job? If she loves him who cares? She can always dress him up in fine clothes and a new car. But will that be enough to make for a marriage? What about what Steve Harvey says about asking all the right questions, such as what is your FICO score? If you have an 800 FICO score should you ever consider marrying someone with a 150 FICO score? If you have a PhD in American Literature, why would you consider marrying a man who can’t read? What about other values such as religion? Should an atheist ever marry a Christian? If the sex is good will that one thing cover a multitude of other short-comings? Are we to “judge not” when it comes to “who to marry?” Or should we take a long hard look at why the American divorce rate is almost 50 percent. What can we learn from watching Divorce Court? What can we learn from watching “Wives with Knives” or “Fatal Attraction?”

Do women in general “marry down” and men “marry up?” Are women naturally better catches for men that men are for women? What do wives do compared to what husbands do? What about the age old complaint by wives of all generations that they do most of the domestic chores, do most of the child rearing, most of the shopping, cooking, and a whole host of other duties including being the cab driver for the family, the nursemaid, the kisser of every boo-boo, and the keeper of the dog? What exactly does a man do anyway that would ever make a woman say she married “up?” Why didn’t the Bible say, she who finds a husband find a “good thing?” Just asking. Do too many women “marry down” because of the pressure to “get married”– for a lot or reasons—biological clock ticking, don’t want to be an old maid, marrying in their 20s because 30 is considered old—those reasons? And with the pressure for whatever reason to “get married” do women marry men who are beneath them socially, intellectually, and especially maturity wise? When people make the comment, “Well, he’s a nice guy,” about a woman’s husband, is that code for she married down? What about the comment, “She could have done a lot worse?” Is that really code for she married down? Just asking.

Or is there any such thing as marrying up and down anymore? Do you marry “who you love” and let the chips fall where they may? Love will conquer all. Why would Andy Justus offer such a commentary on his own marriage—that he married “way out of his league?” Just asking—just kidding.

Copyright 2015 – L. Arthalia Cravin. All rights Reserved. No part of this commentary may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission from the author.

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