We radical lady bloggers often get into trouble around here with our metaphors, particularly when it comes to relationships. However, they work well because they fit the narrative. Our Alte caused a storm when she extolled the virtues of the thug in relationships. Laura Grace caused a stir when she equated husband skills with the talents of the Dog Whisperer. My example is more tame by comparison, but given our penchant for outrage when women are referred to as property, I decided to cover myself by noting that there have been more extreme examples proffered than the one I offer here. It could be worse. I heard this song recently and the irony was palpable:
You don’t own me
I’m not just one of your many toys
You don’t own me
Don’t say I can’t go with other boys
Don’t tell me what to say
And don’t tell me what to do
And please, when I go out with you
Don’t put me on display ’cause
You don’t own me
Don’t try to change me in any way
You don’t own me
Don’t tie me down ’cause I’d never stay
It has been said that in the days of the Old Testament, women were treated as little more than property. Fathers gave their daughters in marriage and husbands were responsible for the vows their wives made. “Women were property!” was the clarion call of the women’s liberation movement. This is offered up as a bad thing, but I beg to differ. Women have degenerated markedly since becoming the authoresses of their own destiny. I submit that being the property of a man is a boon to the woman as well as to the property owner.
Drive through any community where there are a plurality of rented homes, and then drive through the ones where the majority of residents own their homes. The difference is striking. Rented property communities have very few houses where improvements are made regularly. The paint is faded on most of the homes, the yards are marginal at best. When we were in the market for a house back in 2001 we could tell almost instantly whether the house we were viewing was occupied by an owner or a renter. Owners make improvements at will. Renters put up with whatever the owner gives them to work with, which isn’t much given that he doesn’t occupy the property.
The same dynamic is seen in marriage. Couples who view marriage as a capstone of life, where the wife is a free agent, the husband respects her autonomy, and everyone does what they think is best for the family in their own wisdom looks vastly different from one where the couple views their marriage as their cornerstone; a single unit with one head rather than a two-headed monstrosity. Like the rented property, the self-owned wife has little to no curb appeal. What’s worse, because she doesn’t really belong to him, her husband isn’t free to make necessary improvements.
What does a rental property marriage like? She’s lazy, and excuses it as her right to relax because she works so hard, despite all evidence to the contrary. He accepts it because she’s not his property. She gets fat, and he pretends it doesn’t matter. Just normal wear and tear, and it’s not his house. No sex? Another “normal” part of married life. Kids taking priority over the marriage? She gave birth to them so it’s just (again) “normal” that she would give them top priority. He should be thankful that his children are blessed with such a devoted mother. He dare not offer any objection to anything she does because she is after all, a free agent and she just might take advantage of said agency. She probably will anyway because everyone knows that the owned property feels more loved than the rented one. Rented wives have no curb appeal yet blame the tenant despite the fact that they chose to be rented rather than owned.
Contrast with a marriage where a wife accepts that she is now the property and responsibility of her husband. He takes very seriously the responsibilities as well as the privileges that come with such ownership. He is free to make improvements, and she knows that rather than attempting to destroy her uniqueness, he is working to increase her value; to himself, his children, and others including her. When he questions the way she spends her time, she gives account and makes the necessary adjustments. When she doesn’t take proper care of her health and appearance, he calls her on it. Rather than take offense, she is motivated. She puts in the time and effort to be a more fit, healthy, and attractive wife. She willingly engages her husband physically, understanding that her body is not her own and that regular intimacy helps to keep the foundation of their relationship a solid one. She sees her children as the blessed result of love made with her husband rather then the fruit ripened solely as a result of her decision to loan herself as an incubator for 40 weeks. They are well loved but kept in their proper place. She doesn’t even own herself, so she knows she doesn’t own her children either.
I know that owners sell homes all the time, particularly in this current market. My analogy isn’t perfect, but it’s still valid. The trend of selling homes and upgrading to something bigger, shinier, and newer is jut an extension of the way we do things now. Everything is expendable, including those we claim to love. Again this is new, not normal. Just as people didn’t switch spouses every ten years, neither did they routinely switch houses every decade. They bought a house, raised their kids in it, and often died in it, because it was theirs. My father has lived in the same house for 50 years. I know many people of his generation who have done likewise and passed the family homestead onto their children.
Rented property has always been expendable to its occupants and the owners of such properties have always added far less value to them than to the properties they own AND occupy. The modern day homeowner is really no more than a decorated renter anyway. Very few people truly own anything, and very few marriages are marriages real and true. Nothing of worth is invested, and the negative returns on the investment reflect that.