It’s a familiar story — a talented but tortured man, consumed by drugs or booze or demons or womanizing or all of the above, is told by his woman: “It’s me or your partying.”
And just like that, he cleans up his act and starts putting her and their family first. Then they live happily ever after — like in a fairy tale.
In his new biography, Bruce Spring-
steen credits his wife of 25 years, Patty Scialfa, for helping him through his depression by being stable and strong. Alec Baldwin recently credited wife Hilaria for helping him be a better parent to their three kids (his poor older kids!) Ozzy Osbourne thanks his wife, Sharon, for standing by his side as he’s dealt with his sex addiction. Samuel L Jackson credits his wife, LaTanya Richardson, and daughter, for getting him into rehab. And Jon Bon Jovi just thanked his wife of 27 years, Dorothea, for helping him to beat his demons.
These are feel-good stories, ones that might actually make us us think that fairy tales really do come true.
Except, these aren’t the fairy tales I grew up with — did you? In these fairy tales it’s the women who rescue the men. Honestly, when did you ever read a Princess Charming story? When did you see a Disney movie in which the beautiful princess rides in on a white horse, rescues the man in distress, takes him to her castle and they live happily ever after?
Women stand by their man
Yet, there’s a collective “awww” when a celebrity acknowledges the power, patience and enduring love of their woman. And as women, there’s no better testament to what we do best — we love, we nurture, we trust, we give and we wait, patiently. We stand by our man. Somehow we’ve been convinced that it’s up to us gals to save our relationship. And so we often do.
But if women can save men with society’s blessing, why is everyone so down when men save women? Could it possibly be because we women tend to “save” a man emotionally and men tend to “save” us financially?
Everyone from therapists to friends to parents to relationship “experts” have been hammering one message to women: Prince Charming doesn’t exist. A man is not going to come and rescue us, gals, so we need to get our heads out of happily-ever-after fairy tales and Disney movies, and into reality and our own 401(k) plans.
Fantasies run deep
As much as we women understand that, those fantasies still run deep. “Sometimes women just want to be rescued,” Your Tango declared after a survey of single women in New York City revealed a preference for firefighters (brawn) and Wall street execs (bucks) as potential perfect mates.
A recent study indicates many women nowadays see Prince Charming as their retirement plan. Even highly educated and well-off women still marry men who make more than they do, another study indicates. Not too long ago, Cosmo reported the results of a few surveys that found most young married and single young women would become domestic goddesses if they could afford to.
And the guys? Well, unemployed, underemployed and low-income men are just not good dating or marriage material in the eyes of many women.
In truth, it isn’t just women who want fairy tales to come true. Men do, too, or so says Robert J. Sternberg, a professor of human development at Cornell University. But they don’t dream of being saved — their fairy tale is more about a beautiful, sexy woman they can sacrifice for. I wouldn’t begrudge a man his fantasy, but time and time again, men’s fairy-tale ending is the direct result of their woman saving him when he messes up.
The message is clear: You can be an emotional gold-digger, but you sure can’t be a financial one.
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