Tuesday, August 9, 2016

     The other day, I was riding my bike with a new neighbor whom I had just met. She was lamenting the fact that her daughter-in-law had called to ask her opinion as to whether she should divorce her (the neighbor’s) son. I’m thinking to myself, “Why would you ask your husband’s mother such a question, but I listened.” My neighbor answered her in a very sensitive and mature way without scolding her. I’m not sure I would have been so tactful, but regardless, it speaks to the point of today’s blog. 

     Some of my fb “friends” are stepping up to the “Look at my wonderful marriage” challenge. I am always suspicious of such things, based on a failed 19.5-year attempt many

years ago. I recall watching other couples for years trying to figure out why they were happy and I was not. Well, guess what? Most of them got divorced before I did. What you see on the surface is not the real story, and face book gives us all surface. It doesn’t matter how mature we are, most people will pay attention when the “best” is touted in any category. Of course, if we were really mature, I’m not sure we would be on face book to begin with, but that’s another story.

     I have learned many lessons not just about marriage but about unrealistic expectations, my own shortcomings and lack of maturity, my “programming,” comparing yourself to others, and the list goes on. So did I find the perfect union the second time around? Is he my soul mate? Do we call each other “Boo?” The answer to two of the three questions is “yes,” but there is no perfect relationship—marriage or other. As long as we are human, there will be ebbs and flows. Some of the ebbs make us wonder if we should go live in a cave with the wolves or just swim laps alone in the Indian Ocean. The problem is that even in this so-called enlightened society, we are not prepared for the reality of marriage. Women still imagine it as some Ozzie and Harriet life where no one ever loses his or her temper, and children behave perfectly 24/7. We think  Mr. Wonderful will bring us roses on our anniversary and she will wear negliges whenever he asks. Hello. 

     I admire the person who not only responded but illustrated beautifully all the real scenes of marriage and parenting. It is not a “happily-ever-after” without hard work, compassion, forgiveness and constant patience and tongue-biting. Anyone who tells you otherwise (regardless of whether they post it on fb) is either lying to you or to themselves.

     I have a friend who is always telling me how “lucky” she is, how “perfect” her marriage is and how “wonderful” her husband is. Well, maybe her definition of all those terms is different than mine. There is not one universal definition other than Webster’s, and where is he, and what kind of marriage did he have? We are all “lucky” if we can get from one day to the next and feel like we’ve done our best and we’re humble enough to know that marriage is a learning curve. Sometimes the curve hits some detours, but it’s not a straight line to paradise.   

See "Michifornia Girl" blog from face book a few days ago. Excerpt below.

My marriage is not as perfect as yours.
Seven years and two kids later, Facebook has absolutely convinced me of this. Written declarations of true love are forever cascading down my feed: You are my soul mate, baby boo-boo sugar lips. My one true love. I would never want to spend this life with anyone else by my side. Our marriage gets better and better and better AND BETTER every single day. Love you. Love you SO MUCH. You are THE BEST. Smooches.
Sometimes I wistfully “Like” these statuses. Sometimes I cock my head and think, “Hold up. Didn’t she just tell people she’s secretly researching divorce lawyers?” And sometimes I cringe a little to myself, because yikes, there are SO MANY DAYS when I’m not sure I could shout such things from the rooftops…and many days my husband couldn’t shout such things about me.

Is it just us? It CAN’T just be us, can it? We can’t be the only ones hitting all these rough patches, letting stressful situations get in the way of healthy conversation, sometimes going to bed angry even though The Marriage Rules say we shouldn’t. Maybe there are others like us, but Facebook says, “Nope. It’s definitely just you.”