Wednesday, September 21, 2016

For Badder, For Worse



For Badder, For Worse

Sometimes, you marry the wrong person.

There's not a great deal of precaution in the early stages of romance. After all, it's exciting to fall in love. A person slips into your life, and you feel those goose bumps rippling all over your body. Attraction leads to distraction. You have no idea what you're doing, but it feels good, so you keep on doing it.

Before long, you are in a relationship.

Now, let's be clear about one thing. A relationship is much different from being in love. Love is anarchist. It chucks all the rules out the window and exalts passion over all else. A relationship comes after the bulk of that passion is spent. Suddenly, there are rules. You have to be monogamous, you have meet your partner's family, you get the wonderful opportunity to see all his or her photos from age 2 to graduation and college, you have midday coffee with his or her friends, you even get willingly humped by the family dog.

The initial flush of passion quickly dissipates. Romance becomes entwined in a network of other people. Where once it was just the two of you against all odds and against all the world, now it is a spider web of many different relationships of varying intensity, and each silky spiral is sticky beyond your wildest dreams. A mother who seems ever-present in the life of your partner, a college friend who may have dabbled in the romantic process with your loved one but who now swears to being "just a friend," a morose brother or jealous sister who suspects your every good intention. A jumble of endless liaisons become a part of your daily life.

You remember that one of the great privileges of living alone was that you were quite easy to live with. Such is not the case anymore.

Still, for some reason, you decide to get married. You may think that you have covered all your bases, that you've done your "homework," that you know exactly what to expect prior to the "blessed" event. You couldn't be more wrong.

At best, marriage is a crap shoot. Marriage ends up as a hopeful, generous, infinitely kind gamble taken by two people who don’t know yet who they are or who the other might be, binding themselves to a future of which they cannot conceive and which each has carefully avoided investigating.

There is a recklessness to love. Romantic notions drift into one's psyche, and the belief that love will conquer all overrides every practical concern. And so, we marry the wrong person. We marry the question mark and not the exclamation mark.

We marry the person who seems less complete, as tottering on uncertainty as much as we are, instead of marrying a balanced, mature, understanding and reliable person. Why? Perhaps, it's because few people associate love with stability. In fact, most of us see love as an abandonment of stability. No one wants drop-dead boring. No one wants safe. We want fireworks. We want delirium. The prospect of an enduring happiness is sacrificed for a somewhat chaotic free-for-all of unexpected moments of exhilaration over and above some kind of permanence.

Sad to say, most people enter marriage with a severe case of short-sightedness. We see marriage as a continuation of the dating process. When that expectation falters, as it always does, we adjust our thinking somewhat. We begin to talk about marriage as some kind of learning process. We learn to expect a certain amount of heartache, to confront some unsettled issues, to accept a sour taste beneath the candy coating. What we expect, we get. Romance becomes disappointment, frustration, anger and annoyance, and unless we modify the plane of our expectations, the relationships will surely break down.

All is not lost, if this plane of our expectations becomes more realistic, more reasonable, and more attuned to the changing reality of maintaining a life together. In other words, there comes a point when the romantic notion of marriage, the idea that somehow love and marriage go together like "a horse and carriage," takes a back seat to forming a realistic partnership.

Romanticism looks for the "perfect" partner, who simply doesn't exist. Realism looks for the person who may be disagreeable, even distasteful, but who willingly makes compromises to merge two individuals with differing opinions and values into a single, workable collaboration of sorts.

To the romantic soul, I'm sure that all this sounds a little pessimistic. In fact, some people are so tied to romanticism that they cannot make the necessary adjustments that might allow a marriage to "work." Their idealism is unflappable, and it's just as well that the relationship is eventually dissolved. After all, a lasting happiness is the goal, and if one or both of the married couple simply cannot make sacrifices, then the marriage is doomed, as it staggers from bad to worse.


 









 








 
 


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