Bad Marriages: Do You Like To Watch?

It's Wedding Week at Jezebel! Not only are Anna, Jennie and Moe all headed — bliss! — to far-flung festivals of monogamy this warm weekend, Moe will be handing over her blogger reins to an altarbound friend for the duration, and wheedling a guest column out of her little brother, who last week proposed to his girlfriend of three months. (Yeah, he was drunk.) In this installment we examine the sick appeal of watching someone else's dysfunctional marriage fail. Which, um, we don't think has much of an appeal.

Last night I had dinner with one of my rapidly expanding cluster of close friends who is somehow planning a wedding. "Did you read 'Can This Marriage Be Saved?'" I asked of the cover story in the New York Times Magazine. "Oh god, no," she said. "I can't read those things. It's like being around other couples who are fighting. I noticed it was on the 'Most Emailed List.' People are sick." And I just shook my head: she had no idea .

Because unlike the addictively depressing Ladies Home Journal feature by the same name I relished so much as a strep-prone child, this story did not merely portray a colossally resentful couple in therapy to save their painfully uncommunicative-but-codependent bond, it focused on a "support group" of distraught couples in counseling who all sit around and watch:

Perhaps because of what they shared, the young wife was the first member of the group to plainly criticize what she saw happening between Marie and Clem, although not until midway through the year. "As a person who's known you for six months," she told them wearily, and a little tearily, "it's brutal listening to you."
Okay, first of all, who sits and watches a couple alienate one another for six six months without getting a hefty sliding fee (or, you know, food and shelter) out of it? And wait, according to the story this couple actually paid for this privilege. As someone who in part blames Match Point for my last breakup, I'm mystified. Isn't the secret to a happy marriage utter and comprehensive denial about how bad it can be?

Can This Marriage Be Saved? [NYT]