If His Family Says So

It was the fourth date with a guy named Chris. So far, things were going well. The weekend before I had gone for a BBQ at his parents' house and had a lot of fun. He took me to a very nice restaurant and, to my surprise, was ready to propose to me. He went on to say that he had called a family vote on it, and he was happy that they all agreed that it was time for him to marry and that I seemed like the right girl. He went further into the dynamics of his family telling me that I'd get used to it in no time, but that here's how it worked. Any time you were thinking about doing anything that would change things in your life; you had to get the family's blessing. You called for a family vote and presented your case and then answered questions or concerns that came up. But, if the family decided against what you wanted, you just couldn't do it. If you wanted to stop work and go to college, or after having a baby go back to work. At which point, he added, that would only be allowed if the baby was finished nursing, and oh, by the way, bottle feeding wasn't allowed. The family didn't think it was good for babies. If you decided that you didn't want the required five children, if you wanted to move, and he then added that you couldn't move more than thirty miles away from his parents' house. Then he continued telling me what my "duties" were. Up at 4:00 a.m. to cook breakfast. Dishes needed to be clean by 5:00 (in case his mom or sisters dropped in). His lunch was to be made the night before and ready for him to take. The floors were swept and mopped in the morning. Vacuuming and dusting were done in the afternoon while I was doing the laundry. Dinner must be on the table by 2:30 pm. Twice a week, I was expected to visit someone in the family. One visit should be to his mom, and the other to one of his six other sisters. If I was leaving the house for any reason, I needed to call his mom and let her know where I was going, when I'd be back, and who I was going with or going to meet. And then he added the real kick in the butt, that everyone agreed that I should gain at least twenty pounds right after we were married because I was expected to produce the first child within a year and a half of the marriage or the family might decide that he might need to find someone more fertile. Do I need to tell you how fast I ran out of there and never looked back? I got an invitation to his marriage to someone else about two months later. I figured good luck to her.

— Denise, 25

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