Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Expectations...

So, I've been wanting to read the book, "Eat, Pray, Love" for a couple of months.  I actually purchased it in the airport on my way to Reno.  I've been reading it in between some personal issues that I've been dealing with and I've found it pretty interesting.

To catch up those that haven't read it, it's about a woman in her 30s that visits three countries - Italy, Indonesia, and India.  She does this because things become so clearly unmanageable in her life in the US and because things fell into place that allowed her to go.  For a year she is going to live in these three countries.  I'm still on Italy - where she learns to eat.  Well, she's known how to eat for some time - it's not like she's been fed via IVs up until now, but you get the gist.

In this part of the book, she's writing about how she decided to cut things off completely with this guy that she was dating before she went to Italy for four months.  The funny thing (funny strange, not funny haha) is that I started reading that chapter (Chapter 28 for those that are reading along) on Monday night - when I was working on drawing my own boundaries.  

Anyway, one of the things that she writes about is how she looked at her parents' marriage and how she realized that her mom was consistently neglected and forgotten about...but that her mom seemed relatively happy and content anyway.  She makes the point that she just figured that she needed something different than her mom and that apparently she just wasn't as strong and independent as her mom.  She explains this to her mom and the mom said, " All those things that you want from your relationship?  I have always wanted those things too."  She then goes on to say, "You have to understand how little I was raised to expect that I deserved in life, honey.  Remember - I come from a different time and place than you do."

And honestly, that still floors me.  

I am forced to examine what my expectations are for relationships and the possibility of marriage.  Do the people that decide to bail do so because they expect different things?  Because they feel like they're entitled to a wonderful, perfect, movie-type relationship?    I know - there are probably different reasons for every relationship that ends or continues.  But what keeps people together?

Like I read blogs and see people and hear about marriages that seem like they'd be a lot of fun.  Is that really how it is?  Or is it just that people get used to each other so it's better than being alone?  

I think about why I'm not married.  And it's easy to joke about, but the most logical reason I'm not is because no one ever asked me to marry them.  Really.  I probably would've said yes to two of them had they asked within the first 6 months of us dating.  I'd like to think that one I wouldn't have followed through with it because I was MISERABLE during most of the time I dated him.  And the truth is, I've made better choices each time - or at least haven't repeated the same mistakes.  

But when you've never SEEN a successful relationship, how can you model after it?  How do you know what to wait for?  And likewise, how do you know when you THINK that you're entitled to more...and that you expect more?  How do you know if your expectations are too high?

My grandparents were married for 58 years until my grandfather died.  Did they stay together that long because society was against divorce, because they loved each other so much, or because their expectations of what a marriage should be was the same? Honestly, I think it was probably the latter.  He was a Colonel in the ARMY and she was the ever dutiful military wife.

I want a marriage that is fun.  I want a marriage that has passionate moments, one where he is just as committed as I am, and one where we are teammates...in every sense of the word.   I want to have fun doing whatever it is that we find fun.  I want to laugh, I want to joke around, I want to have an engaged husband who wants to do stuff with his kids - be it practicing soccer in the backyard or have tea parties with her dressed as a princess.  I want to enjoy him just as much after the kids are gone as when I married him... maybe in different ways, but just as much.  I don't think that things will be easy all the time.  And I'm not fooling myself into thinking that he will be so absolutely enthralled with me that he could hardly stand it.  But I would like to think that we'd be happy - more times than not.  And that when I just couldn't pick up the pieces and fight once more against whatever it is, that he'd shoulder the burden and carry me through the battle grounds at least until I was strong enough to fight again.  If he knew me, he'd know I'd gladly do the same.  Are my expectations too high?  IS this type of relationship and marriage possible to find?

I know... you probably don't have the answers for all of this.  But because almost every reader of my blog is or has been married, I'd love your take on at least some of it.

7 comments:

Ginger said...

Should I start by saying that I've been married for 10 years? And before that we dated for almost 4? Dude. I'm freaking old.
Aside from that..
I think the secret to my marriage is knowing that being married is a daily choice. Everyday we decide, "I choose you." And when we start feeling like we don't choose to be with each other (something that really does happen sometimes more than we'd like), we take a close look at why that is and work on fixing whatever seems to be broken.
I think more than having expectations of our relationship, we are constantly working at it. If I feel ignored, I say, "Hey, pay attention to me." And all communication has to be that blatent. Let's face it, men are more apt to be content and therefore don't notice when we aren't. For that reason alone, I think being completely up front about all of our emotions helps us to keep going.
Please don't misunderstand. Sometimes that communication involves many 4 letter words.. (not "love" or "kind")
Rich and I both come from broken homes. We are extremely cautious about not letting what happened to our parents happen to us. I know that if I choose to, I have the option of saying "we're done". But on the flip side, knowing that I have the option of saying "I'm here because I choose this" is very freeing.

happyfunpants said...

Thank you, Ginger.

(sigh)

Thank you.

turleybenson said...

This is a tough one, but I'd like to chime in. I know there's no magic formula for finding the "right one," and I think that's a good thing. I realized just in time that marriage was a choice (just like Ginger said), not a destiny. When you look at it as a choice, you realize you have to accept all the consequences of your choice and there is no one else to blame. I also think that no matter who you end up with, you have to sacrifice certain things. As is well known, I got a pretty hilarious and fun partner (and many other things), but I also got someone who is not as active, world-conscious, and other things I wanted. I could have gotten those other things, but maybe I would have lost the hilarity. In the end, the list went out the window, and it was about who I fell in love with. Who gets married and who doesn't is completely random, and so unfair, and has no bearing on who is a good or lovable person and who isn't. Plenty of undeserving schmucks get hitched, as we all know. So yeah, no answers, just thoughts...

happyfunpants said...

My dear Turleybenson (see how I followed directions?),

Thank you so much for your insight. You and Ginger both seem to have a lot of fun in your relationships and I hope that that is what I get to do should I ever find myself in one.

Thanks for your advice, for your honesty, and for throwing in that someone who is loveable might still not be married. :)

Jen said...

Hey Anne,

First off, I am like 3 chapters from finishing Eat, Love, Pray. It is such a good book. I've been reading it since December. Once school got busy I haven't read it as much as I used to. I've been so close to finishing it for a LONG time now!! I love the book though. It has made me think about so many things!

About marriage, I completely agree with what both Ginger and turleybenson had to say about marriage. Marriage is a choice that you have to make everyday. There are days with its ups and some with its down. I am thankful because I have more ups than downs but one thing I've learned about being married is it is not easy. There are comprises in a marriage. Once you are married you are no longer living for just you anymore. For many years I believed I had to have this perfect marriage or at least perceive it to be perfect. I've come to the conclusion that there is NO perfect marriage and if people tell you that there are they are lying!

I laugh a lot in my marriage. That is the thing I love the most. We have been forced to fully trust in each other and no one else. This has been what has strengthened our relationship the most.

I honestly have no idea where I am going with this only that my marriage is worth the sacrifices I've made.

You are without a doubt lovable! Our society says in order to be established or successful one must go to college, get married and have kids. I don't know why this is but it's just so wrong! I don't know why one must go through all these steps in order to become someone! You have accomplished so much in your life and I am so proud of you!

Know that I love you!

Jen

happyfunpants said...

Jen -

Thanks as well for your comments. :) I'm glad to know that even if it is a daily choice it doesn't have to feel like so much effort.

And thanks for your love. :) I love you too!

Now come to Dallas in two weeks!!

:)

Jen said...

I am looking into it. Not sure if I can but I will try! Love you!!

Jen