Glossy Covers: Vogue Nippon's Bride Supplement

Glossy Covers: Vogue Japan Bride Book (+ is happy marriage a media taboo?)

In email conversation with a bride-to-be today, we both agreed that we hoped to make more of our Gen-Y marriages than our Boomer parents had been able to. This is why, perhaps, the Royal Wedding was met with such unexpected fervor by young and old alike: thoughts of what could be, and what could have been.

Many have been let down by the institution, but who – or what – is letting it down?

Beyond this dogged commitment to seeing marriage through 'til death, all married couples need support in this endeavour, a realistic checklist of what to expect when the Disneyfied confetti has settled and an assurance that things need not deteriorate – they can get even better! – perhaps now more than ever. In our individualistic society, the self often comes at the expense of the other half, or "the marriage", which might be viewed as a separate unit, which you've mutually agreed to honour.

Role models are fewer in real life, on screen and in the world of celebrity media, where marriage is met with a sadistic voyeuristic scepticism: Arnie and Maria just the latest high-profile couple to part ways. Hollywood gives us cheap marital examples (Couples Retreat?!), on Packed to the Rafters Sammy and Nathan got divorced and newlywed Mel died, Carrie cheated on Big, and with gossip mags recording the move of every wayward spouse, there's not a lot of hope to hold onto in the mainstream. 

While there are books and marriage counsellors and girlfriends to be consulted, in women's magazine culture there appears to be a dearth of marriage information outside of quirky articles pointing to alternative ways of doing marriage (separate beds!) or columns by Boomers lamenting how terribly banal it is. How are young married couples surviving in the pressure vacuum of dualistic careers and buying property (or share-buying property) and starting businesses and families?

Young women's mags risk alienating their single readers with talk of relationship issues specific to marriage, bridal magazines risk losing advertisers with talk of 'How To Not Let Your Marriage Fall Apart After I Do' and fashion magazines with bridal supplements create dreamy editorial to support their advertiser's wares, but there's certainly a gap in the market for the newly hitched...more particularly those yet to hatch.
Tina Fey's 2009 film Date Night was probably one of the more positive depictions in recent time – a real couple taking on a challenge with humour! – but even Fey was coy when it came to tackling marriage in her book, relaying an anecdote about Christmas that could star Reese Witherspoon or Sarah Jessica Parker. Elizabeth Gilbert's lengthy Committed did a good job of canvassing some issues, more particularly pre-conceptions about marriage, but Spousonomics (tagline: "Using economics to master love, marriage and dirty dishes"), which also has a blog, takes the (wedding) cake for being one of the best marital management guides of recent times.

Is good, happy, healthy, wholesome marriage passe? Or is this a reflection of the hotbeds of media production – New York, Sydney, London, LA – where traditional ideas of marriage have been waylaid? If so, married types, not silly enough to smugly think, "It won't happen to us", but comfortable – thriving, even – in married life, will come out from under the doona (dutch ovens!) and continue to meet over coffee and debrief at dinner, where the connubial discourse flows more freely, hopefully before it's too late.

See also:
The Royal Wedding - Bishop of London's encouraging words on marriage
Marriage is like Magda

Girl With a Satchel