Saturday, October 30, 2010

A Few Words On Marriage

Greg hates it when I blog about him.  So I'm not going to.  I'm going to blog about marriage in general; I can't help it if his name gets brought up once or twice as a familiar frame of reference.  Because marriage as an institution has been on mind lately for a few reasons.  And, yes, in part because I am angry that he's driving my car right now to do his paper route - his stop gap job to keep himself busy.  He's using my car to do it because he wrecked his on the route.  Those of you who know us understand that I HATE it when he drives my car.  When he drives my car in brutal, un-car-friendly situations my dislike overflows.  My car is definitely not liking it.  She generally runs like a kitten purrs, but I noticed on Thursday when I got in her she was idling so rough the rearview mirror was vibrating.  Yesterday, I got ready to leave for work - no makeup on and wearing an outfit that unfortunately accentuated my middle-aged-post-menopausal paunch so I could dress for Halloween (see my Facebook wall) and - surprise! - no gas in the car when only the day before the tank was full.   To say that I was irritated was an understatement.  So, I would lie if I said that the trials and tribulations of having a house husband over the last few months didn't put me in mind to ponder the institution of marriage.  And, some might say, this post is my revenge for my poor sweet baby Subaru, that I constantly worry about when she's away from me in his care.  But, seriously, I've been thinking about it for other reasons as well.

For one thing, I didn't grow up thinking that I needed to be a wife, yet I've been one for a really long time.  When I envisioned my adult life, as I suppose all teenagers do, it was always as a successful businesswoman who either lived in a sophisticated high rise condominium or in a modern log bungalow with high, arching windows that looked out over the Rockies with my several rough collies.  I carefully imagined my dog population, but my fantasies didn't include a man (well, I had this intense crush on this poor guy in high school who was two years older than us so for a while I used to imagine him living next door to me in the mountains).  But, the point is, I was comfortable on my own and didn't picture anyone saying "You complete me" as part of what it would take to make me happy.  Part of the side effects of being an only child, I guess.  Don't get me wrong, I liked men.  It was the 70's - I liked them a lot and felt no guilt about it.  And, my self esteem was such that I wanted them to like me back, but I wasn't sure I wanted the ring on the finger as part of that or that I needed their stuff mingled with my stuff on a permanent basis.

Somewhere along the line that changed and I did want it.  I think it's Bride Syndrome frankly.  Suddenly, as you enter your 20's and your friends begin to get married and you sit through bridal showers, where all the attention is on the glowing bride-to-be and they're getting presents - really cool stuff that you'd love to have - you tend to think to yourself, hmmm...  And then you go to the wedding, and there's your friend in resplendent white being Queen for a Day.  And you think, I can see myself doing that.  And then you visit them in their new little duplex or whatever and see all their new stuff and they seem happy.  And they all are sporting big diamonds to boot.   It's like a chain reaction.  By this time you may be dating someone seriously, someone whom you're now mature enough to truly understand and relate to on an adult level, so you size that person up.  Is he husband material, and how would he look in a tux?  It's almost as though Fate sprinkles Fairy Dust in our eyes and clouds our vision to make us wish for this fantasy land existence so we will go forth as couples and procreate.

Now flash forward several years.  The wedding gifts are used up, broken, lost or at least not shiny new any more.  You're knee deep in a mortgage, your relationship is more about who can leave work early to take this kid to that thing so the other one can shuttle that kid to this thing, you've got spit up in your hair, you're tired, you wonder where your own identity wandered off to, you're so used to being referred to as "Billy's mom", and your husband wonders why you're not romantic anymore.  I watched a lot of those formerly resplendent brides and handsome grooms split apart at this juncture.  Ten years in seemed to be a critical time period.  When my own ten year anniversary loomed large, I thought more than once to myself, "Uh-oh, here it comes..."  I was almost braced for it.

But we muddled through, and some of my friends did as well.  Still others found new husbands and walked down the aisle again, more quietly and less resplendently than before maybe, but still ready to get back in the saddle and try to tame that horse again.

Flash forward several more years.  Suddenly the kids who have made life so hectic for so many years are grown and repeating the cycle on their own, and the house is roaring with quiet.  You look at yourself in the mirror and realize that you've spent so many years taking care of others that you didn't take great care of yourself and you look it maybe.  Your body is changing in its inevitable way, and you're no longer in complete command of it.  Trying to decide how to deal with it - face lifts, Botox, personal trainers which will get you some results, but risk making you look like an older woman who's had "work" done, and that's if you can afford it, or just accepting it and look like a woman past her prime.  That's a big mind trip, let me tell you, and it happens physically before you can adjust to it mentally, so when your husband wants you to be all romantic like the couples in that stupid ad with the twin bathtubs outside now that the house is empty and you look at him like he's lost his mind, then you've reached another critical juncture.  Or maybe, your husband doesn't even fool with you, he goes off and fools somewhere else with something younger.  Very critical juncture!  And, I'm seeing some of my friends who passed through the first gauntlet crashing into this one.

Yet, as a society, we continue to try it. Young men and women continue to walk down the aisle in search of the fairy tale romance.  Women still yearn to call themselves a "wife", men continue to want to be labeled "husbands".   And some of us, almost improbably, survive all the trials that come after the honeymoon to actually have a successful union.  So, I've been pondering why that is.  More later:  I have to begin pacing now since my car's not home yet...

My Version of the Bride Syndrome

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