There’s this striking assumption – one that goes along with “asking questions leads to good, helpful answers that will clear up relationship trouble” – that asking for what you want, will actually get you what you want. That if Sookie were a little more demanding, and also less assuming, she’d get what she wants.
Frustratingly enough, it doesn’t always happen that way – not even with people who love you. I could ask my husband if he’s okay if we watch a movie together, and you know what – he selfishly might not agree to just do what I want. Maybe he doesn’t want to watch it – and that’s not because he doesn’t love me, it’s because he’s putting his own needs as equal to mine and what he wants as equally valid as what I want, no matter how much I may want what I want. That’s what an equal partnership is all about – or should be about – and it’s not every single whim being catered to on both sides. When things are done together, they have to be things that both partners wish to do together. There are really few unspoken rules about what has to be done, or whose rules are being followed. We kinda both have to agree – neither one of us being “the boss” for all time of the both of us.
So too when it comes to getting married. There’s this bizarre concept that everything you want will be given to you in a true partnership. You know – the concept that if Sookie had just ask for stuff, then it would have happened. Like if she confronted Bill about lying to her when he said he was going to “Seattle” (read Lorena) she would have gotten the truth out of him. Liars lie even when they are asked to tell the truth, and even when someone asks really nicely or really sternly. That’s kinda why they aren’t to be believed about stuff. Vampires have been lying – consistently – to the entire human population for hundreds of years, but they’ll crack when one girl asks if they’re lying. Ooookay.
I know that Sookie catches a lot of hell for not acquiescing to being Eric’s wife. That if she just got with the program, he’d give her a proper wedding. As I’ve covered in my fics, I don’t know that that’s ever going to happen. Isn’t it funny how he never seems to think to ask what her conditions are? Well not to me. Mr. Talkative-as-a-Rock doesn’t ask because he doesn’t want to hear it. Like Sookie, Eric enjoys being wilfully obtuse, hoping that sooner or later Sookie will fall into line without him ever having to do more than he’s doing now. That one day, she’ll go along with “wife” because he’s kept saying it. Look at how often he called her “lover” – and she went with that, right? Eric is definitely an brazen himself to actualisation guy.
Rather than put the blame where it rightfully belongs, all of it is laid at Sookie’s door as if she just went along with a guy that didn’t even tell her he was surprise marrying her (for Christ’s sake he didn’t even put on a suit and tie for the event itself) that she’d get what she wants. That it is Sookie being selfish and stubborn, rather than St. Eric. Uh-huh. I don’t see that one working out for the fangirls who are sure that under Sookie’s mistrust, they secretly see someone who’s an upstanding citizen, waiting to fulfil her every romantic whim, if only she would ask.
As I see it, Eric made the sole decision to call Sookie his wife. He did the pledging, and he’s the one who came out with wife. He didn’t even start calling her wife until Dead in the Family, so he’s had a bit of time to assimilate and think about what he wanted to do from the pledging. He could have chosen to go with “dear one” or “lover”, but he’s chosen to go with wife, without ever actually asking Sookie if she wants to be his wife. Is she grateful that she doesn’t have to go with Felipe? Sure. But then, apparently, Eric didn’t want her to go with Felipe – this is not some selfless act done only to make Sookie happy. Eric wants her in Louisiana as much as Sookie wants to be there. That worked – and she stayed in Louisiana with Eric.
This is a case of Eric trying to brazen his way to actualisation – as he often does – saying it as if it is true, and never asking Sookie anything. I mean, if he actually asked her, she might say No, or put her own demands on stuff. She may reject his marriage proposal. She may even say wholeheartedly yes – because as Sookie herself says:
and then think of Eric and want to punch him in the face.
Dead and Gone, p. 45
But, funnily enough, in an actually equal partnership, her feelings are just as important as Eric’s – or they should be. I don’t live in the pre-women’s liberation times and believe that women exist to serve men’s needs, and I don’t hearken back to that “golden era” either. I’ve come to like being educated, working, and voting – but maybe some see that as a luxury….while they enjoy all those freedoms like the internet where they can read and write and say what they think. To some readers, Sookie’s just his wife because he says so. What Eric wants, Eric gets – Sookie is the unimportant character but to be wish fulfilment for Eric himself, right? It doesn’t matter that they won’t ever have children, or retire and get old together, she won’t even get one single marriage proposal – truly – what every wife of the vampire-mob boss wants for her life.
Quite a few assumptions are made in Eric’s favour as if there’s really some secret helpful reason he’s done things the way he has, or maybe St. Eric the manbaby can’t tell his arse from his elbow. Not that he could be stubborn and pigheaded, and without mercy for Sookie’s feelings on the matter. Never. Like all the times he’s threatened to kill and torture people – that’s just motivation, amirite? He doesn’t mean anything he says. Not honest Eric. So, he gets quite a few free passes to be a dick just because he has a dick – and what surprises me is that some readers seem to want to help him along, and be wilfully obtuse themselves.
As Sookie says to Jason, her very own brother:
Marriage is a commitment – one that Sookie will have to abide by. The very least she needs is someone who’ll ask her to marry him, or you know, ask if she wants to commit her life to making Eric happy. To be given a choice. But, no, Eric wants to skip all those steps, and just go straight to the commitment bit, and call her his wife. If he keeps doing it, he’s hoping she’ll eventually give in, like rock being washed away by stone. I actually think Eric needs to put himself out there and give Sookie some choice and equality, and Sookie needs to know he wants her because he wants her, not just because he just doesn’t want her to go to Vegas. But most of the apologies are done for the thousand year old vampire to get what he wants, not for the girl who’s taken beatings for said thousand year old vampire.
One of the things that’s often assumed is that Eric just doesn’t know that a wedding is important to Sookie. There’s absolutely no reason in the text to believe that Eric has no idea that formal marriage exists. The opposite in fact. He certainly seems to understand the importance of asking the woman if she wants to marry him:
was thought a handsome man and was a noted fighter, so I was a good
prospect. Her brother and her father were glad to greet me,
and she seemed…agreeable. Dead and Gone, p. 87
Surprisingly enough, even though there were arranged marriages in antiquity, considerate men did actually get to know the wife first. The last thing anyone wanted to do was meet up and immediately go to the honeymoon. So even if you assume that Eric has zero knowledge of the present world, and how marriages work, he hasn’t even asked Sookie. But he asked some girl a thousand years ago – back when he wanted her to take care of his kids while he went raiding.
But of course, the idea that he has zero knowledge of the present world is scuppered by Eric’s own statements. These are not so common in the modern world that he’d have heard of them if he had no freaking clue:
Dead and Gone, p. 87
So he knows all about househusbands, but doesn’t know apparently about Christian weddings, and that most people – particularly Christian people – like to be married. That’s even further disputed by this little fact too, that he doesn’t know about Christian marriage between Christian people, and why it might be important:
“Church of the Loving Spirit,” she told me, bagging three copies of the CD
and handing them to a fangbanger sent by his master to pick them up.
“He got his certificate from the online course, with Bobby Burnham’s help.
He can perform marriage services.” All Together Dead, pp. 157-158
So, he can perform marriage services, but he has no clue as to why a woman might like them? Not only that, but he’s a Christian minister, who can’t understand why the woman he loves not only would like to be asked, but might actually appreciate being married. Maybe some readers think that Eric is legitimately thicker than two bricks, but I do not. He certainly could find out that one can register to be an officiant, order Bobby to make it so, read the course materials and pass the test, so I think he can figure out that Sookie might actually like to be married.
The reason he doesn’t figure that out is because he doesn’t want to figure it out. Eric doesn’t want to hear more than “wife”. He doesn’t want to have a wedding – he wanted that little ceremony in the office to be his wedding. Now he wants to be bullheaded about the whole thing, and bully Sookie until she says she’s his wife. Just like when he said that she was his lover, he won’t do anything more than treat her as his wife. He certainly won’t pull a rabbit out of his hat and ask her, or have some magical wedding waiting in a broom closet (right near Narnia) to pull out at the last moment.
One of the other reasons thrown out is that it’s only legal in Vermont or not legal at all. Yeah, that’s True Blood, not the books. In the books, it’s been legal to intermarry for a while now:
Well, well. No one had thought the bill would ever pass. From Dead to Worse, p. 88
So it’s not only legal, but it’s not as if it would be the first of its kind. Vampire-human marriages are just fine, and have been fine for months now. So that doesn’t just let Eric off the hook. Even if it was illegal, I don’t buy it that he wouldn’t ask Sookie anyway – because any show that you actually want to be married is better than nothing. But it doesn’t even have to do with pragmatism and not wanting to have too many ceremonies. If he so wished to, Eric could tie it all up in a bundle, and scoop Sookie off to a registry office, and then have at the whole shebang.
Not only that, but Eric has given zero tokens to Sookie to show she’s his wife. If one were to believe he’s never heard of wedding rings, or anything like that. Or maybe they think Eric isn’t the type. Doubtful:
Dead and Gone, p. 87
So when his wife when he was human (Aude) died, he knew enough to leave a brooch on her dress. Eric sure does understand that women like jewellery, and that some events need some token of passing, but apparently, it’s lost on him that a thousand years later, Sookie might appreciate some jewellery to commemorate their wedding. The fact that he knows about that and the fact that he doesn’t do it, then I’d say that he has no intention of doing it if the necessity doesn’t arise.
Now, Sookie doesn’t agree to just go along with wife. Eric has a history – a very substantial history – of making assumptions and statements that he will positively absolutely not rescind. When Eric decided that after Bill, he would be Sookie’s lover, he just kept going with that idea until Sookie told him otherwise. Not only did he assume from the time that she left Bill in Club Dead, he assumed long after Dead to the World that he was rightfully her one and only lover – and he didn’t even remember the time they’d spent together.
Eric seemingly telling all the vampires in the Area that Sookie is his, and off limits. One cannot believe that the only two vampires even vaguely interested in a telepath with fae flavours in Area Five are Eric and Bill. But the Queen, Andre, Mickey, Tara and Charles have all heard about it. So has Quinn apparently, because he’s certainly not surprised to be seeing Eric at Sookie’s door. Eric even goes so far as to continue making claims of ownership on Sookie. For all the shit Bill gets over saying Mine (or Mahn) in True Blood, it’s actually Eric who makes the most claims of “mine” in the books. He tends to go subtle, but he does it way more than Bill ever does. Sometimes he catches himself at it, and stops, but sometimes he doesn’t. Let me list them for you:
Dead as a Doornail, p. 31“Your greed and selfishness put my – my friend Sookie in danger.”
Dead as a Doornail, p. 226
“This woman has been mine, and she will be mine,” he said, in tones
so definite I thought about checking my rear end for a brand. Definitely Dead, p. 91
“And you’re yelling at my – at Sookie,” said Eric. All Together Dead, p. 262
“You’re mine,” he said. Then he noticed my frown and amended his
words hastily. “You’re only my lover.” Dead and Gone, p. 176
“Your great-granddaughter is my woman, mine and mine alone.” Dead and Gone, p. 305
At least Bill does it only when challenged by Eric. Eric does it whenever he feels like it. He certainly doesn’t listen to his own words in the end of Club Dead (designed primarily to stick it to Bill) that Sookie belongs to herself. Nope, Eric will pull out his ownership of Sookie any old time he feels like it – and most of these quotes, they’re not bonded, and they’re certainly not dating. Mr. High handed certainly hasn’t asked Sookie, and nor has he said that it also means that he belongs to her – nope – Eric owns himself, and apparently thinks he owns Sookie as well.
So, as you see, Eric thinks that Sookie belongs to him, even when she’s not with him. He’ll put it all through the supernatural community that they’re a couple, tell anyone that they are – to ensure that they will be – and try to keep an extensive cordon around Sookie so she doesn’t belong to anyone else. Hence his great temper and furious anger at Quinn – and his sudden new need to get shifters who work under him under the control of the vampires. Quinn, unlike Alcide, wasn’t under Eric’s control at all. His debts were to other vampires, much to Eric’s chagrin.
Eric throws a hissy fit at Quinn when Quinn comes up to take Sookie on a date and makes his above claim of ownership. Eric would really like for her to come to the business meeting about Rhodes and then go home again, and in response to asking how it is he shows he cares for her, Eric replies:
So that’s Eric showing how much he cares about Sookie. He doesn’t think he needs to do anything more than say what their relationship is, and that’s what it is. If Eric were the type to make unnecessary effort to actually romance Sookie, then he wouldn’t have said such things. It would have been elementary for him to understand that if he wanted to have a relationship with Sookie, he actually needed to do something about it. It’s not the last time Sookie actually says such a thing as that to him – in response to all of his bullying and assumptions of ownership:
on your mind. You haven’t treated me as though I had any significance
in your life.” All Together Dead, p. 92
That’s the second time Sookie’s said to Eric that he needs to do something more than claim ownership of her to actually be considered “her man”. But stubborn arse Eric is determined not to do one tiny iota more than he needs to. He’ll just keep saying it until it’s true. Sookie keeps drawing the dots closer and closer together for Eric – making statements about what she will accept – and Eric takes his sweet time doing them. He waits until he can cloak it under asking her out for Niall – so he’s not really putting himself out there – not in any vulnerable non-sex way. Eric finally gets that he might have to take not only physical risks but emotional risks.
Indeed, you know what the first thing he does after he knows she’s broken up with Quinn? MARRIES HER. That is Eric’s idea of how you get in a relationship – you just all be in a relationship, and keep being in it, until the other person finally gets tricked into it, or stops resisting. Never does one do anything so gauche as ask, or make oneself vulnerable. So a woman needs to hear you give two shits whether you’re married to her? She’s not going to get it from Eric if she doesn’t push the point, and make it so that he has no choice but to do something more.
The only thing Eric has ever said to Sookie is this is the reason for their pledging:
So every single time he brings up “wife”, Sookie chucks that back in his face. Evidence says that if she accepts wife, that’s all Eric will ever do – as much as he has done now – not more than he has done. Sookie will have to live with wife – and the wedding ceremony and accoutrements that she already has. Eric hasn’t bought her a wedding gift, a wedding ring, hasn’t asked her to get married in front of her friends, or in a Church. He hasn’t even said that he wanted to marry her – only that Felipe wanted her. Truly, the stuff of romance.
What do I see as breaking this deadlock? I think the most likely outcome, based on how stubborn Eric is, and how he absolutely refuses to do more for Sookie than make statements, is that he will finally acknowledge that he didn’t just marry her to keep her from Felipe – that he wanted to be married to her. I don’t see him ponying up for a wedding, or setting up a wedding. I see no bridal showers or honeymoons (pfft like Eric would leave work for that). I don’t see every little girls’ dream. I do think though, that if he wants wife, he’ll have to give Sookie more than Felipe as his reasoning. And I just don’t think that’s too much to ask.
Maybe he’ll put himself out there, emotionally, finally. I’m hoping that he doesn’t have to cloak it under some other purpose – but that’s my best case scenario. I don’t know that Eric has become that…open, or that he ever will be. Sookie loves him, and knows him better than his fangirls seemingly do – she can actually predict his actions. It really shouldn’t be up to Sookie to put herself out there first again as she did for when he asked her to talk or tell him how she feels about him. Nope – it’s time for Eric to man up or shut up about “wife”. If he can’t at least tell his wife he wants to marry her for her, and not for Felipe, then Eric doesn’t deserve to be married.
Eric knows all about Christian marriages, tangible tokens of affection, what women getting married actually want – rings, ceremony and to be asked. He hasn’t done them in the past two months since Dead in the Family has happened. If you think that Sookie asking for anything would get her what she wants, then think again. Sookie’s not always wrong about this stuff.