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Saturday, July 12, 2014

MARRIAGE


Marriage....
It's a word that gets a different reaction from many people. For some it brings back awful memories of pain, mistrust, and bad cooking. For others it is the most wonderful thing about life, with the closeness, the security, and the comfort of a special mate. Some want to have another go at it even after their first ended in complete destruction, others will run at the first mention of it. I don't think I ever discussed mine.....
Once upon a time there was this unhappy, insecure, and foolish man (me).
The end.
Or so I thought....
The day I saw my fair maiden was the day my life made a U-turn. Of course, it was at the bowling alley. Her hair was amazing and she smiled often, I just had to try and talk to her. So I did.... It was a surprise she talked back, since most humans with the "y" chromosome that smiled at me were, in fact, being polite and hoping I would just go away. If I didn't, they probably had a backup plan of joining the Peace Corps and moving to Bolivia. Since she didn't book any flights to South America, I figured there might be a chance to get this pretty, college-educated, too-good-for-me young lady to go out...

Fast forward 5 months or so, and we were in Las Vegas getting married! Almost like the movies!
I know, I know.... It wasn't long enough to REALLY get to know anyone... blah blah blah....
Back in those days, I was a different sort of fellow. On top of the aforementioned unhappy, insecure and foolish, I was also going nowhere. (Plus I would have never used the word "aforementioned" in a sentence or in a drunken stupor) I had crap jobs at crap places and no future, unless I could have dug up a pile of doubloons buried by pirates hundreds of years ago, which, unfortunately, didn't happen since Pennsylvania wasn't a buried-treasure-state in those days and I wasn't digging around.... sigh...    
Anyhoo....
I always lived in Fantasyland when it came to relationships. I expected too much of the other person and when they inevitably gave up trying to be the person I wanted them to be, I just saw it as being "taken for granted" and it was time to leave. It happened more than once and when I finally realized, many years later, the TRUTH, I felt awful for everyone I spent time with. This being said, things happen fast when you reside in Fantasyland. Since you don't have to deal with silly little things like reality or lost socks, one never thinks too far ahead. Life is easy if you don't concern yourself with tomorrow. I was REALLY stupid....
Through no fault of her, we separated a few years later, divorced some time after that, then I stopped being a dum dum and discovered my happy place. Relationships have never been the same since. Since I wasn't that needy anymore, I could enjoy the other person, as they were, making it much easier to have fun together. While I have not married since, that doesn't mean I am not open to it. or look forward to it. Or think about it. Or know about it.
In all my failures and successes with the opposite sex, there are a few things I can say about the things leading to marriage, with some certainty.

You will see what you want to see, and ignore what you DON'T want to see.
In the beginning of a relationship, you can't believe how perfect that special someone is. How they seem to have instantly been a longtime friend, and it's difficult to remember your life before them. It's "charming" when they have quirks and the things you don't really care for, they will stop because they care for YOU the same way you care for THEM. You can't talk enough, you miss them when they aren't around, and your life together will be legendary, books will be written about the love between you, and eventually, not one of these things will end up being true. Hmmmmmmmm.....I know that sounds cynical, but we are channeling our inner cynicalness at the moment....
The amount of time you wait to have sex has no direct relation to success or failure.
I can't say I ever saw sex as anything more than a special time with someone you care about. The depths of caring may be different with each person. The reasons you WANT to have sex may be different with each person. To me, intimacy is just another layer to this wonderful human experience. Ask a couple married 50 years if the reason they stayed together was because she "made him wait". I would be surprised if they even remember the situation. What counts more is the kind of person you have chosen to spend your remaining years with, and also your ability to recognize when dundumness takes you over. You can learn about your potential better-half by keeping your eyes wide open and not sweating at the first sight of a nice set of abs. There are no guarantees they will STAY that same person, but the odds are more in your favor if you stay on course and don't detour to Fantasyland. Sex has very little to do with it. Unless you choose to make it a big deal.
The more people you date, the less chance you will be swept off your feet by some ape in a nice suit.
I am NOT saying be loose and free. I AM saying that you should be open to the idea that Mr Perfect might just be a lil less. If you compare him with someone else, you may find your definition of perfect is in need of refinement. If you are pulling apples out of a tree and you come across one that is not so great, you will leave it be, right? Do yourself a favor and don't limit yourself to one possibility.
Most romance-type movies are NOT based on real-life.

I used to live by the story of George Burns and Gracie Allen. He met Gracie while she was engaged to another man. Four years went by until he finally convinced her to marry him. They were together when she passed away 38 years later. I used this as proof that, if I tried hard enough, I could convince the girl of my dreams that I was the guy of hers. Even as I write this out, I have to chuckle. What an idiot.
Two people are just that - two individuals that have their own thoughts and ideas. You may or may not have the power of persuasion, but you have to know when to admit defeat. There's a fine line between romancing and annoying. I know. I've been the dum dum that thought she was Gracie and I was coming over for dinner.
Those folks who know me real well will be surprised to hear me say all this. I LOVE romance movies, the idea of love at 61st sight is kind of cool. In reality, I've learned that if she don't like you on Sunday, the chance is pretty good she won't think much different on Friday, no matter what you do.
We all want good, honest, interesting mates.
...so why do we settle for people who treat us with no respect and have questionable character? That doesn't sound interesting to ME. I used to wonder why we take the "stupid" pill at times and spend years dealing with the effects. My conclusion, totally unscientific and unsupported - we are naturally stupid at times. Even the brilliant ones. The beauty of being human is in our reactions to failure. Anyone can sail through the parts of life that hold no challenges. Maybe this is what finding a significant other is meant to be. A challenge. It certainly is, with or without the pill.
We don't look at a resume or credit report before we get serious

Some people do, but I am betting most just assume if he can pay for dinner, he must be doing ok. Reality may be far, far worse. This is one area that we shouldn't compromise. Money troubles will END the best of couples. Why take a chance on YOU being one of them? Exploring in this area would drastically reduce issues coming up later I'm sure. Everyone usually has a time or two where things don't go financially well. How we deal with it when it's in our face speaks volumes about who we are as a person. Go on... explore.
Giving someone the space to explore things/interests on their own does not mean you don't care
I have a cousin who seems to be out and about all the time. He has hobbies he is passionate about and takes the time to do them. Without the understanding and loving wife he has, life for my him would not be nearly so good. Did they have any conversations about this before the wedding day? Knowing these guys, I bet they recognized it long before that joyous occasion. 
I know that "alone time" is important for most of us. Not only does it recharge our minds and spirit, it supports our image of ourselves being independent individuals, not trapped in the label of "married couple"... not that there is anything wrong with that!
We don't set the bar high enough
In my situation,  insecurities led to my marrying someone that I shouldn't have. Most people with issues have a tough time making good decisions. The more and deeply rooted those issues are, the less life-altering decisions we should be making! It's tough to function when we have such a low self-esteem . In my case, here was a pretty, college educated, not-insane woman wanting to exchange vows... with ME! How could I say no???? Devoid of my insecurity, the results would have been different, I'm sure. I would have spent more time in a committed relationship with her, so I could see what kind of good AND the bad things would develop. I certainly would have noticed those key elements that led to our parting. In retrospect, most of us recognize the reasons we failed, long before the actual end. More than a few could honestly say, those same things were there at the beginning. We didn't set the bar high enough, for whatever reason, to move on before any ceremony could take place.
LOVE is a 4-letter word.

Love can be both the best of times, and the worst of times. (Thank you Mr Dickens)... He might as well been talking about man and wife instead of two cities. A spouse can be a part of our greatest days but also be responsible for our worst of nights. Makes me wonder why we pursue it so strongly. Maybe it's in our DNA. Maybe it's just a side-affect to the additives in our mayonnaise. Whatever it is, love is such a high we are willing to risk an awful, crushing defeat vs the idea of finding it for real. Speaks volumes, I think, to our hope as a species. Or dumdumness.

There is much more that can be said, and I'm sure I will add to this topic sometime soon... In the meantime, don't settle for just good-enough.


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