In the lyrics of her hit but controversial song, "Dear Future Husband," Meghan Trainor demands from her future spouse: dates, flowers on their anniversary, being treated like a lady, being told she's beautiful, apologies after every fight, his time, and a ring. In return, she offers to be the perfect wife, buy groceries, be faithful, kiss him and give him sex.
These things don't seem unreasonable to me. Then again, Trainor is 22. What does she know about love and marriage yet? That said, do I have any right to criticize what she wants when she gets married? My marriage failed. Maybe I didn't ask for the right things.
So, as a 49 year-old divorced woman and single mom, if I was going to write a letter to my future husband, here is what I'd write:
Dear Future Husband, (for my second marriage)
Should I decide to embark on a second marriage, which is extremely frightening to me on many levels, here is what I would ask of you.
Please take time to get to know me. All of me. Don't let the initial, physical attraction you have towards me blind you from the real me. At the beginning of our relationship I will seem perfect to you, and the few flaws that you see in me will seem cute and harmless. And vice-versa.
You'll think you are in love early on, probably because you will be so happy and surprised to have met someone you really like and who you are attracted to after having gone through the heartbreak of your divorce, and possibly dated a bunch of people who turned out to be disappointing to you. Additionally, you will probably be shocked that at such an older age, you are capable of feeling as much passion as you did as a 25 year old. So, what I'm asking is that you take your time and really make sure it's right before you dive in.
If and when we do become a couple, make sure we always talk to each other. No secrets, no resentment, everything on the table. Complete and pure honesty, no matter how hurtful it might seem to either of us.
Also, realize that we are older people now. We have our own lives. We have our own children. Don't try to force us to be the Brady Bunch. I will treat your children the way I'd treat my own, and I hope you will do the same, but let's not be disillusioned. Our kids will need alone time with each of us, and when that happens, neither of us should feel hurt.
I want romance till the day we die. And, I want to have fun with each other and not lose that in the day-to-day realities of marriage.
When one of us is sad or sick or has a problem, I want us to be there for each other no matter what. I want us to be best friends and treat each other like that. I want "us" to remain our top priority (other than our children) no matter what.
Promise me that as I grow old, you will still love me and look beyond the wrinkles, belly flab and ailments I might develop. Promise that you will take care of me, and I will do the same. It's a promise that is a lot closer in number of years than it was when you made that promise to your first wife. Ask yourself, 'Am I really up for this?' before you propose.
Lastly, just love me. I'm a little damaged and insecure. I need to feel cherished, treasured, appreciated and respected. I know you need that, too.
Dear future husband, I'm scared so I'm cautious. But I'm also wiser than I was as a young person. All that said, I'm hopeful. Happily ever after is still in my core. So, I'm really looking forward to you. And by the way, please get here already!
Jackie Pilossoph is the author of her blog, Divorced Girl Smiling, and the comedic divorce novels, Divorced Girl Smiling and Free Gift With Purchase. She also writes feature stories, along with the weekly dating and relationships column, Love Essentially" for Chicago Tribune Media Group local publications. Pilossoph lives in Chicago. Oh, and she's divorced.
Follow Jackie Pilossoph on Twitter: www.twitter.com/divorcedgirlJP
In the last 24 hours, unless you live in a scientifically anomalous forcefield that protects you from the absolute worst of pop culture, you have, at the very least, gotten wind of Meghan Trainor's new single, "Dear Future Husband," and the video that goes along with it. Perhaps you've read professional and casual critiques (and maybe even defense, or even celebration) of "Dear Future Husband." Perhaps you've even — heaven forbid — listened to and watched "Dear Future Husband."
But just in case, here's Meghan's third and least color-coordinated music video from her debut album, Title:
Are you confused? I'm confused. I was in my elementary school's prestigious gifted program, but even with that pedigree, I have no idea what just happened.
And yet, despite this confusion, I'm somehow angry. My brain recognizes that a crime has been committed against music, gender equality, the partially formed brains of society's youth; but up until now, I have been too dumbfounded over this tripe to construct sentences about it.
I think I'm ready now. Hold my hand?
OK, so this is at least the second time Meghan Trainor has dabbled in what momentarily seems like an anthem of female empowerment and self-confidence only to undermine her own message with contradictory lyrics. In her breakout hit, "All About That Bass" (which is currently being used in a diaper commercial, and that weirds me out), Meggers is proud to have a curvy body, but she just can't seem to spit out the self-assured lyrics without spitting on skinny women. This time around, she's championing what I can only describe as an obnoxiously high-maintenance, heteronormative pipe nightmare poorly disguised as a swirly rainbow lollipop of girl power.
I think I'm gonna have to break down the lyrics. Ready?
Dear future husband
The title and first line of the song are hugely problematic. This premise is upsetting, to say the least. The assumption that she's going to get married (I mean, it's just what normal people do, right?), the impersonality, the putting-the-cart-before-the-horse-ness of it all — it doesn't sit well with me.
There's nothing wrong with wanting to get married, even before you know who you want to marry. But the idea of writing a figurative letter to an undetermined future husband feels like a big, creepy step past subscribing to bridal magazines when you're in high school.
Here's a few things you'll need to know if you wanna be my one and only all my life
Screw your wants and needs, dude.
Take me on a dateI deserve it, babe
Wait — are we talking about dating or marriage? And you deserve a date? You're not owed a date, especially not with that presumptuous attitude.
And don't forget the flowers every anniversary
It's apparently more important for Future Husband — henceforth referred to as FuHu — to follow directions than to be creative and generous on his own.
'Cause if you'll treat me rightI'll be the perfect wifeBuying groceriesBuy-buying what you need
I realize that women are the primary consumers in the vast majority of households, but buying groceries is what makes a wife perfect? That benchmark is as low as it is sexist.
You got that 9 to 5But, baby, so do ISo don't be thinking I'll be home and baking apple piesI never learned to cookBut I can write a hookSing along with meSing-sing along with me
During this fleeting lyrical moment of women's lib, Meghan is shown in the video dressed in retro housewife garb, scrubbing a kitchen floor with no indication of irony.
You gotta know how to treat me like a ladyEven when I'm acting crazyTell me everything's alright
In other words, don't just put up with behavioral bullshit — reward it.
Dear future husband,If you wanna get that special lovin'Tell me I'm beautiful each and every night
So, Meghan's biggest turn on is ego-stroking. Noted. I can just see how this nightly conversation would go:
FuHu: "Honey, can we have sex tonight?"
MegTra: "I don't know. Can we?"
FuHu: "You're beautiful."
MegTra: "Put it in me!"
After every fightJust apologizeAnd maybe then I'll let you try and rock my body right
Correction: Meghan's biggest turn-on is groveling.
Seriously, though — even though no woman (no person) should feel pressure to have sex when they don't want to, it's all sorts of messed up to dangle sex like a carrot in front of your partner until they yield to your self-righteousness.
Speaking of self-righteousness...
Even if I was wrongYou know I'm never wrongWhy disagree?Why, why disagree?
My favorite thing about the phrase "I'm never wrong" is that it's always wrong.
Dear future husband,Make time for meDon't leave me lonelyAnd know we'll never see your family more than mine
Estrangement is soooo romantic.
I'll be sleeping on the left side of the bedOpen doors for me and you might get some . . . kissesDon't have a dirty mindJust be a classy guy
Don't almost say "head" and then scold the poor dude for finishing the sentence the way anyone would! Also, I know plenty of classy guys with dirty minds; they're not mutually exclusive.
Buy me a ringBuy-buy me a ring
Listen, there's nothing wrong with wanting an engagement ring, but demanding it? In addition to that being awfully overbearing, you're sucking all of the romance and spontaneity out of this future marriage. You're only cheating yourself.
So, after repeating some of her dictates, Meghan wraps up her song with . . .
Future husband, better love me right
But everything she's sung is oh so wrong.
I'm all for having standards. Pro-standards, that's me. But these aren't standards. This is a sloppily decoupaged ransom note to a hypothetical man whose dignity is being held hostage.
The worst part, though, is how its presented as something women could unironically embrace — and bop along to, because it's so darn catchy — as realistic, respectable, and even feminist. Did someone tell Meghan Trainor that feminism is unchecked, unconditionally rewarded female chauvinism and disrespect for men? This song is the musical equivalent of the "I have tits; give me free stuff" meme.
When TIME asked her about "Dear Future Husband" months before yesterday's video premiere, Meghan said, "I hope people can hear my songs and know I’m a badass girl and I deserve a good guy to take me out on a date." But that's not even close to what I hear in the lyrics.
And the lyrics are not even close to what I want her impressionable, young fans — and some impressionable older ones, too — to construe as a healthy relationship and a sound form of female empowerment.