Friday, May 8, 2009

Twilight Saga Marriage Survey Results Are In

The Effects of the Twilight Saga

by Dawn Harris
This article is property of CBA, please do not copy or redistribute without written permission.

The Survey

I have been in what I like to call the "Twilight Fog" since January of 2008. My introduction to the books was much the same as many of the participants in the CBA study we did this week. I was given Twilight to read and it all was downhill (a GREAT RIDE downhill) over the next week. I read straight through, lacking sleep, nutrition, and general daily activities were set aside all to catch that drug-like high that the relationship of Bella and Edward gives off. After over a year delving into this world, I had heard around that marriages were breaking up, major riffs were occurring in families, and had suffered some of the untoward effects in my own house that the "Twilight Fog" can cause. I began to wonder WHAT had this seemingly benign, chaste, YOUNG ADULT book done to the middle-age housewife out there?

I set out with a mission, I needed to know what it was that would cause us to turn from "Stepford Wives" into 17-year-old vampire lovers?

The survey was simple. It came with a disclaimer if there was anything too intrusive, then the party answering could skip the said question. I must say, you ladies rock as I did not have one survey (out of the 14 that came back) that had any questions unanswered.

Here are the questions:
How long have you been married?
How many children do you have/ages?
Has the Twilight Saga caused you to argue with your spouse?
Have your kids complained about your reading/movie addiction leaving them unfed/feeling left out?
How have you dealt with these issues?
Do you feel your addiction is detrimental to your marriage? If so, how?
Do you feel Twilight has lead to a change in your life for the better or worse? How?
Have you or your spouse contemplated divorce/have divorced due in any part to your Twilight addiction?
Have you ever been intimate with your spouse while thinking about Edward?
How have you changed your usual routine since your addiction started?
Has Twilight changed how you expect your spouse to treat you?
Has your addiction lessened since the release of the movie?

The average length of marriage was 10.2 years, ranging from just 7 months, to 25 years. The number of children only got up to 2 (so it is safe to say the Octomom did not participate in my survey), and while some had children in their 20s, others were in the conceiving stages. The study went across the marriage spectrum and the child-rearing spectrum very well even in our tiny sampling of the Twilight world.

The Sex

The question asked was, the question was answered. "Have you ever been intimate with your spouse while thinking about Edward?"

Of all the questions, I figured that would be the one not answered. No one was shy. The answers ranged from it being too dangerous to do that sort of thing in a marriage, to "yeah, but then my husband is thinking of Valerie Bertinelli." The central theme though, seemed to be that Edward spiced up sex lives all over. Whether it was through getting women in touch with their feelings and romance, or whether it was closing their eyes and pretending Edward was there, even in the rocky relationships, the sex aspect seemed to have benefited from the "Twilight Fog."

One wife said that her husband should thank Edward for her increase in libido. While Edward is fictional, the entire story seemed to bring us all back to our courting days, whether we had been married 25 years or 7 months, it took women back to the days before life got in the way.

The Friendships

Many a friendship has been forged through Twilight. Women from all over America are on at all hours of the day and night looking for any inkling of news concerning the Saga. While in that search, we come upon others who share the insanity, who are lost in the "Fog" with us. Kindred spirits join up and become a force to be reckoned with. The popularity of Twilight and the constant news clips, commercials, etc, are in part due to the women and their internet savvy. From Twilight Moms to The Twilight Lexicon, and everything in between, women are alerted within minutes of anything Twilight related and then the site/news source/store is bombarded. We have shut down more servers than probably any other phenomenon in recent history. Thanks to the "Twilight Fog" we all have new friends, and great places to hang out like Cullen Boys Anonymous.

The Twilight Orphans

My kids, and children of the participants, were often times orphaned when it came to our addiction. While most would either fend for themselves, or were fed less-than-healthy meals while we were stuck in the "Fog" most have come out the other side better. Daughters and mothers have bonded, some kids now share music with their moms thanks to the Twilight soundtrack. While, yes, there is still the eye-rolling issue and the "Not Twilight again" moans heard, it seemed to be more positively taken by the kids. Maybe they rebounded faster than the husbands, or maybe they adapted into the "Twilight Fog" themselves, but all the children seemed to be resilient.

The Marriage Issues At Hand

While not many of the study participants were willing to call their tiffs with their spouses arguments, but rather disagreements, it seemed that most all at some point had terse words in regards to their Twilight addiction.

There are two distinct sets of problems that seem to accompany the "Twilight Fog." The first being our lack of attention to our families. As middle-aged mothers and/or wives, our families are accustomed to our total attention. Most have left their selves at the threshold of their married life or their life as mom. Long forgotten was the happiness we had once found in things that were solely for ourselves. That loss of self and then the subsequent finding of self through Twilight can take a rather docile husband and make him berserk. Here is this man, trotting along through life with a "Stepford" wife (or pre-Fog wife), one who takes care of whatever needs done and then one day the "Twilight Fog" rolls in and he feels the backlash. No dinner at 6, no clean clothes ironed today, the dog is a mess, the kids are still sitting in front of the TV and where is mom, cuddled up with Edward in the bedroom. Honestly, mom doesn't even hear what is said outside of the book. Kids talk, but it does not register as mom is in Forks. Feeling beside himself and suddenly cheated, the husband will likely raise a fuss that the mom is shirking her responsibility.

Now let's look through mom's eyes. Here she is, she has given up self, she has given up everything for her family unit. Everyone's needs come before hers. She has this one thing she is totally enamored with and they have the audacity to come at her with complaints? When she had the flu, she still functioned and took care. She has given up so much and all she asks in return is this one passion. It feels like a jip. Mom is left wondering, "Is this all there is?" The awareness of self that was left so long ago (or maybe not so long ago) comes crushing back down on those in the "Twilight Fog." The self-discovery begins, other books, other hobbies, Twilight crafts, other crazed Twilight fans, trips to Forks, the whole enchilada. Dad sits on the sidelines wondering, for lack of a better term, WHAT IN THE HELL? While mom sits in quiet determination that she will not only have her new hobby, but dang-it, she wants to be treated better too.

Will anyone budge? Where can resolution be found?

In the small sampling survey we did, it seemed that the very strong marriages used it as a stepping stone to better that marriage. They communicate their needs, like the need to be treated the way Edward treats Bella. Other marriages left wives wondering, Is there an Edward out there for me? Why won't my spouse love me with that unconditional love? While neither outcome is set in stone, I think the route to getting to both ends of the spectrum was the same.

Whether Twilight has left your marriage in shambles, or made your marriage stronger than ever, I think the universal effect on women is eye-opening to say the least. I dare say it is a movement back to being singular beings, back to being Jackie, or Helen, or Dawn instead of just "mom" or "my wife." No more generic soccer mom, substitute teacher mom, we are women of the Twilight Fog. We have found our selves.



Rox said...

This was awesome Dawn! Thank you!

Anonymous said...

I am very sorry to say that I had every intention of getting my survey in but it just didn't happen in time.
I'm a mom of four small children, and they definitely did have some less fancy or plain old prepared by Dad meals while I was reading Twilight.
I run a Twilight blog, so it obviously still consumes a large amount of my time. Although my hubby is a fan as well, he has on occassion made the comment that I am obsessed, although much less since reading the series himself. I think I've actually surprised him by not running the movie in a continuous loop since I brought the DVD home.
Twilight has definitely been good for our intimate relationship and may very well be responsible for the conception of our youngest child. As to whether or not I ever thought of Edward during intimate moments, I said Edward yes, Rob no, and he wsa fine with that. I mean, we are talking about a fictional character here.
I think because we have both read and enjoyed the series it has strengthened us because it's given us another thing in common. And you are so right, it has definitely helped me remember who I am and that my needs, desires and emotions are still there. They don't go away or stop mattering because I'm a wife and mom now.

CaliMum said...

That was a really interesting survey. Thanks for sharing the results.