Liz Taylor was an icon. Talented, strong and beautiful, she had it all, including eight husbands. I always found that fascinating. I understand the first few. She was young and in love with extraordinary men. Richard Burton? Please. Not to mention that in the '50s and '60s it was clearly the thing to do. Besides who knows? She might have gone the distance with Mike Todd if he had not died.
Be that as it may, her last few marriages always confused me. After all those divorces, she kept on going, and I have always wondered why. Of course, it's not for me to know why she did the things she did. People do what makes them happy, and there is no way in the world I can even conceive of what her life was like.
Be that as it may, her constant pursuit of that state of being reminds me of so many women. You can say what you want, but when I am among women, we talk an awful lot about relationships. We like to get married. We make books on getting men to commit best sellers. And don't let a member of a royal family get married -- that's magazine cover gold for a year. And then there is The Wedding Fantasy, a fairy tale so deep and pervasive that it is economically viable to an abundance of magazines and televisions shows focused on this one event.
At work, when I ask women divorcing their husbands what went wrong, more than a few tell me a story about a man who was clearly ducking and dodging, doing everything he could in an effort to avoid the altar. Others regale me with tales of a unions designed to fail from the start: Yes, he cheated on me while we were dating. No, he didn't have a job when I married him. Yes, I had caught him lying to me. But, wait for it... I was in love.
I think some women find getting married so compelling they do not accurately assess the consequences of being that way. Could that be, in part, why we find so many women jumping ship these days?
Society has, of course, laid the groundwork for the desire. That was, after all, what women were supposed to do back in the '50s and '60s. The workplace was unfriendly territory, and the expectation of all women was to become wives and mothers.
I also think there is some biology involved. The primitive parts of our brain -- you know, the ones that dictate how we feel, urge us to act, then require the higher functioning portions of our brain to make excuses for it later -- favored women who hooked up with a male. It increased our chances of survival. I think we don't pay enough attention to that long-engrained evolutionary proclivity. But it's there.
Personally, I have always found big weddings and all of their accoutrements ridiculous -- a belief which has led to more than a few people to contend that I am a quart low on estrogen. Be that as it may, I had a deep, abiding, raw desire to get married. It felt more like a need than a want -- unexplored and unexplained, but completely undeniable.
As an attorney, I did not need someone to support me financially. I never intended to be a housewife or do the things that housewives do. I was never particularly the nurturing kind. I was, in fact, quite the loner -- so much so that two weeks into our marriage I went back to the apartment I had yet to give up because the constant "there he is" of it all actually gave me the willies.
Let me go on the record as saying I am a fan of marriage. I think a good man is a great thing, and I like the one I have. All I am saying is that women need to be aware of both tradition and biology -- two very compelling things.
I also think that we can learn a lesson from Liz that might not be readily apparent in the light of her relentless pursuit of marriage. Like Liz, we are what we do, whether or not we get married or manage to stay that way. Though that sounds like something women shouldn't need to hear in this day and age, I still think we struggle with it. It's just something we ladies need to keep in mind the next time we settle in to watch the next episode of the hit series, "Say Yes to the Dress."