Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Baffled by The Bachelor: "You Make Me So Happy"?

As a transplanted Nashvillian, I felt compelled to watch the season finale of The Bachelor last night. I have maybe seen one and a half episodes of this show in my life--but given that the bachelor, Travis, and one of the final two women, Sarah, were both from Nashville, it's been the local buzz lately. Bob Mueller, the evening anchor for the Nashville ABC affiliate, put it this way:

It is common for news departments to try to build from the popularity of network shows. But The Bachelor, with 2 players being from Nashville has taken on a life of its own. If Travis or Sarah and you were ever within say the same state we have talked with you. ...We tracked down the gym were both work out...SEPERATELY mind you. We found the weight machine someone believes they saw Travis think about using. We talked with an attendant who showed us the basket she is sure Sarah would have thrown her towel. She also showed us the towel hanging on the edge of the basket, and is 15 per cent sure it is Sarah’s because someone told her Sarah likes to hang her towel on the side of the basket. ...Women have been calling the Vanderbilt e.r. faking illnesses and trying to get appointments with Dr. Travis Stork.
Wow. Just wow. I'll avoid the soapbox about how this should not be news in the first place.

Anyway, last night I thought it might be interesting to flip on the TV and see whether Travis would choose his fellow Tennessean. It would be a cute story, they said: two people who live less than a mile away from each other going to Paris to meet on a TV show. Not as great as our story (not that I'm biased), but still a good story.

Steve was watching with me at first, and initially we both had to laugh. Could they have possibly dragged it out any more or made things any more dramatic? But eventually he got somewhat disgusted by the whole thing: "Why is it that you want to watch this?" My response: "It's like a car wreck--horrifying and yet you just can't look away."

Half an hour or so into it, I felt somewhat disgusted as well. "What kind of guy would get all intimate with even TWO women at once (let alone a dozen)?" Steve had less respect for the girls: "What kind of girl would LET him do that?!" he asked. I was baffled. How could you make out with someone and go on romantic dates with him, all the while knowing he was doing the exact same thing with several other women?

After Travis rejected Moana, the other finalist, I wasn't sure what to think of her meltdown in the limo. I felt compassion for her as she sobbed about how she felt like a fool because she had been so vulnerable. But I also thought, "You ARE a fool. Why would you give so much of your heart to a man who was evaluating you and playing you alongside several other women?" And then another part of me felt a whole mix of emotions: Like how it's sad that we consider toying with real people's emotions "entertainment." Or that the whole thing seems to illustrate the mockery that our society has made of marriage.

Travis did end up picking the hometown girl (which Steve accurately predicted after seeing 20 minutes of one episode--"they've edited it to try to make you think he'll pick the other girl," he observed). And, to his credit, Travis didn't give Sarah an engagement ring, but rather, gave her the ring on a necklace to symbolize "his desire to see where this relationship goes." At least he didn't make any flippant promises about marriage.

But the amazing thing was what he told Sarah as he explained that he was choosing her. It was a variation of a line that was spoken many times by different people during the show: "One of the things I like about you most, maybe the most, is that when I’m with you I’m happy."

Excuse me? So is it really that you love this person, or that you love yourself? Do people really think this is the ultimate basis of marriage? And we wonder why the divorce rate in this country is the way it is:

"I'm marrying you because you make me so happy."
(five years later)
"I'm not happy anymore. Time to move on."

That seemed to reflect the attitude of the show, which I suppose in turn reflects the attitude of our culture: "It's all about me."

I'm no expert on marriage; I'm still a newlywed. But I do know that marriage is about a lot more than just "this person makes me feel happy." Don't get me wrong: Steve often does make me happy. And I'm glad. But for one thing, there are a whole lot of other qualities I love about who he is--not how he makes me feel. And for another, he doesn't always make me happy. Marriage means sticking with him even during the times when he doesn't (and it means he sticks with me even when I don't make him happy). First because NO human being on this planet could ever make me happy all the time (my heart was created first and foremost for someone else) and second because regardless of whether I'm constantly smiling, God is using Steve to make me holy and show me more of Himself (and vice versa).

So...now that Travis and Sarah can have a public, one-on-one relationship without him simultaneously cultivating intimacy with twenty other women...I wish them all the best. But if they decide to marry, I hope it's based on a lot more than "you make me so happy."


Anonymous said...

I haven't seen any of "The Bachelor", but in response to your comments on marriage I can only say:
"Amen!!!" =)

Sarah Ü

Jackie said...

:o) Okay so this season was the ONLY season of 'The Bachelor' that I have ever watched ... and honestly I'm not totally sure why I even bothered. Even though I was pulling for Sara .. only because she was cute and that other girl seemed too dramatic (like I should care .. I'm not going to marry either one of them but whatever) ... but yeah all of that rambling garbage to say that I TOTALLY agree with you Amy! :o) haha but isn't that my job?! lol