Monday, April 5, 2010

Love and Marriage - Hope and Heartbreak

Writing about all the good guys my girlfriends have married has set my mind on a quest. Exactly how does one know when they’ve found a Cary Grant and are not instead being fooled by an Archibald Leach in costume? I’m also pondering how all these marriages last when we, as the human species, have our good qualities our not so good, rather ugly stuff that surfaces now and then.

I wrote my “good guy” post to offer hope to my girlfriend who has been struggling with defining the need for a man in her life. I wanted her to see all the good in the world and convince her she deserved the same. Instead, she read it and cried – and it wasn’t a good kind of cry, it was the other one. This is my second effort with a little more heartfelt honesty and a lot less spiritual, universal froo froo.

How do all of my happily married friends handle it when they have a bad fight or wake up each morning to the same guy with messy hair and bad breath? How does all this happily ever after fit into reality? In other words, how do they fucking do it?

I recently realized almost every couple I know who have been married for 25 plus years are of the Catholic faith. Is it religious belief that holds them together? I suppose fear of the Pope or burning in hell has saved quite a few marriages but I don’t think that’s the answer I’m seeking.

I was married to one of the good guys and I left him. I was bored out of my mind, dying on the vine and eager for more out of life. My good guy wasn’t good enough.

Before Seinfeld, we were all expected to stay with our partners for better or worse. Seinfeld spoofed the impetuous, relative ease with which we tend to hastily declare - NEXT. His character sacrificed a plethora of seemingly perfect love interests based upon trivial infractions such as not tasting his apple pie, being liked by his parents, laughing strangely, having man hands or the eternally classic, eating her peas one at a time.

I have to admit I turned down a second date with a guy once because I knew I could never live with that annoying laugh.

A little online research led me to find the following "official" list of reasons when it’s time to call it quits:
  1. You can't be yourself with your partner.
  2. You feel that the relationship is smothering you emotionally, socially, or spiritually.
  3. You sense there are differences in values, beliefs, and life goals.
  4. One of you is moving a distance away.
  5. You find yourself outgrowing the person.
  6. You're in an emotionally, physically, or sexually abusive relationship.
Thank heavens we have an official list but what happens when your boyfriend’s hot temper scares you but he’s not emotionally abusive or what do you do if your kids don’t get along? What if during a fight, one person is allowed to say enough is enough but when the other person doesn’t want to pick up the phone to talk, they are accused of immature behavior. Is this trivial, like eating your peas one at a time or is it more like peas and carrots, which contrary to Forest Gump, really don't belong together. In other words, is this enough to break-up?

Blended family issues are not discussed in the reasons to break up I found online. What happens when you’re asked to leave in the middle of a date because his daughter is having an issue; yet he refuses to sit in the back seat when she’s dealing with her emotionally distraught son. Or, he speaks up, telling her children what he thinks of their behavior while she has chosen to remain quiet and non confrontational about all the head games his kids are playing.

And what if we just don’t have enough patience to stay calm and work through contention, preferring instead to walk away from someone that may very well be one of the good ones? As for my girlfriend, I understand why she’s enduring such an arduous task, convincing herself of the need for a man in her life. When you live a life filled with work, kids and bouts of enormous stress, it is challenging to add someone to that. But it takes an effort of Herculean proportion to want them to stick around when their ugly stuff surfaces.

It begs the question, is it worth it? Does she want the better and the worse? What if the good guy she finds decides he doesn’t want the better if he has to deal with the worse? What if they are both too independent to really allow someone into their lives? And by “allow”, I mean willing to change behaviors that hurt them, drop the baggage being carried in from previous relationships and work together to achieve mutual goals.

That’s it. That’s what my successfully married friends have figured out.

It takes work.

And work takes desire.

Do those of us that are still single, dumping people in a Seinfeld-esque manner, want to remain carefree, fun-loving people who will never live the lives our parents lived?

Or do we desire a life-long relationship where work and a healthy dose of patience is required?

Well, my friend…do we?


  1. My husband and I come from marriages of mistakes of the past. We both matured and grew up. Our exes still have not. We apply Bible principles. You know, respect and don't cheat. We've been together for 10 years. Maybe your friend is just fine being single for now. Lots of people meet and marry once the kids are grown. The good ones always show up when you aren't looking for them.

  2. Hmmmmm. It is hard being a grown-up all day and all night. It is hard being a roommate. It is hard to get up and its hard to fall asleep. I need you to have the answers. I think a good relationship is fair. A good partner stops whinning and dives in there to be the hero sometimes simply because they love someone. My partner is hot-headed and patient in equal measure. Mostly we know when to shut-up, walk away, walk toward and keep talking. I honestly have tried to run my partner off. It took me 12 years to finally bond with him. My trick is that he is a better, more mature partner than me. Poor him. Good luck. This shit is bananas.

  3. Dude, all the relationship shit scares me half to death. I told someone tonight (Boy from when I was 10) when he was saying how he likes to pamper chicks that I don't even want that kind of stuff a little. If I do lose my mind and decide to be with a boy and let him share a bathroom with me, I need him to love me in spite of me. And maybe hold my hand.


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