My dad used to be a divorce lawyer and this was his motto:
“Love is grand, divorce is one hundred grand. Choose wisely.”
Choosing a mate is not the same as choosing a friend. You’re allowed to have more than one friend and if you read my last entry “The Friend Philosophy,” you know I don’t believe in expecting one friend to fulfull all needs. A spouse or partner shouldn’t be responsible for fulfilling all needs either, but they need to fill a crap-load of them because last time I checked, we’re only allowed to have one.
I figure, if your partner is supposed to be your best, best, best friend…the bar should be really high. And, I also figure, if the bar is high and you don’t settle, your chances of landing the “right” person are good, so your chances of staying together are too.
But how do we know who that “right” person is?
We know by dating a whole bunch of the wrong ones.
Dating different people is like eating from a buffet. Grab one plate for each hand and try everything. If you’re not into something, move on. At least you gave it a shot and now you know a little more about what you like and what you don’t like.
Plus, dating different people helps us learn what our deal breakers are. And we ALL have deal breakers. Deal breakers pop up in almost every relationship, but if we stay strong and stand up for our convictions, they are very helpful in weeding out the wrong people.
Some deal breakers are big: “I need to break up with you because it has come to my attention that you’re sleeping with a whole bunch of other girls. I am not OK with that. By the way, I threw out all of your crap except for the things I’m going to keep. Tootles!”
And some deal breakers are even BIGGER: “I’m sorry. I thought this had a chance of working out but it’s kind of bugging me that you wear your jeans really high. No, I DON’T think that’s a stupid reason to break up. …What? I’m not “all that?” Well, that may be, but AT LEAST MY JEANS AREN’T UP TO MY ARMPITS. Later, Erkel.”
I believe it’s a good idea to date a lot of people because in the end, when we meet the right person, we’re ready. We know what we want and, more importantly, we know what we don’t want.
You may think that I’m painting with a broad brush (probably because I am) but please know I’m not saying that those who got married without dating a lot, or those who got married real young, did the wrong thing. I’m not saying that at all. I won’t be recommending it to my kids, but obviously there are some people who got really lucky and found their soul mate early on. I have some friends who got married to high school or college sweethearts and they are totally solid.
But look around. More often than not, it doesn’t.
It seems that most of the time those who pull the trigger too soon or for the wrong reasons end up divorced or married-but-miserable. Sure, it was great in the beginning. Everyone loved the little hot dog appetizers that Bride and Groom served at the wedding, and Bride was elated when she got the KitchenAid Tilt Head Classic Mixer she registered for (I got one too and if you want it, it’s in the closet of my laundry room) but one day Bride woke up and realized that she and Groom had grown apart.
How did that happen? Were they not paying attention, or were they always quite different?
No, they weren’t different. They were perfect. At least on paper.
When they got married everything matched up perfectly: Same religion? Check. Stable jobs? Check. So cute that they both love strawberry ice cream? Check. But now Bride is no longer the same person she was when she got married. Bride is not so into strawberry ice cream anymore. (WHAT? OH NO SHE DI’INT!) Oh yes, she’s likes mint chocolate chip now. But Groom…Groom still likes strawberry ice cream and not only does he not understand why Bride no longer likes it, he resents her for it. But guess what? Bride resents him too! She used to think it was so cute that he loved strawberry ice cream but now it’s annoying to her and what’s more, she resents that in 10 years he hasn’t changed one bit except for the fact that he is now older with a slower metabolism so the strawberry ice cream has manifested itself as a spare tire around his waist that could double as a flotation device.
That kind of scenario sometimes (many times) happens when we marry too young, too soon or for the wrong reasons.
So, how can we keep that from happening? What can we do to prevent ourselves from becoming disenchanted with our spouse?
I don’t know a lot, but I do know one thing: It’s a lot harder to be happy in a marriage when the person you’re married to is no longer the “right” person, and not only that—it’s possible that he never was.
Why rush it? What’s the hurry?
You’re getting too old? Please. Marry the wrong person and you’ll be even older when you have to start over. Plus, if you wait until you’re older to get married, you have a better chance of staying together because you won’t have as many years to get sick of him.
All of your friends are married? Keep those friends and find some new ones who aren’t. They’re out there (probably divorced because they married the wrong person).
You want a baby? Great. No one’s stopping you, mama. Adopt a baby. You don’t need a man for that. But adoption is expensive. Ain’t that the truth, but so are weddings, especially when they end in divorce.
There are no guarantees when we say “I do.” I know that. Most people don’t go into a marriage saying “Til death or divorce do us part,” but things happen over time, people change, and although most of us give it our best shot, sometimes a marriage just can’t be saved.
With friends, we have the luxury of calling on the ones we need depending on the circumstances. With a spouse, we have one only one, and I think (and this is just me) but I think it helps to sample as much as possible from the “dating buffet” before ultimately choosing the “one,” because otherwise, the one you take that ring from—the one you choose to lean on and grow old with—the one you think is Mr. Right…well, he might really be Mr. Right Now.
And Mr. Right Now is great. But only for now.
Thanks for being here!
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Lynne Golodner says
Very cool blog. You’re totally right – as a second-time-around-is-much-better gal, I know from experience that the problems in my first marriage were always there – no one changed; we just opened our eyes. The only problem with the “buffet” metaphor is that I find buffets always let me down – I’m so excited for the variety and the options and not having to choose ONE dish to order, and then I pile my plate high, sample everything, and it’s all just mediocre. Not sure where to take that one!
I’m so happy that it came across OK. I struggled a lot before putting this blog out but it is something I really want for my girls to have one day. I know not everyone will agree with me, and that’s OK. I am so thrilled that you “got it” and took a moment to comment. That means so much to me. And as for the buffet, I bet the next time you go back you’ll know what to get (and what not to get) or maybe you’ll just hit a new buffet all together. Let me know, I’ll go too! Thank you again, Lynne. So much. 🙂
I agree!! Now I will have to admit I married the guy I was dating at 16, 34 years ago. We will be married 31 years in May and I still love him and think he is a great guy. I also think you should keep growing in a relationship and that your likes and dislikes do change. I always knew my husband was really laid back. So laid back if he were anymore laid back he would be in a coma. Things that never bothered me then do bother me now and he will tell me he hasn’t changed and that is true but what is charming when you are young and have the hots for each other 24/7 isn’t the same when you are 51. Having said that he is a great dad to our 3 children 26, 9 and 7 and I still have hopes that I can get him a bit more motivated;).
Andrea, I’m dying. This line made me laugh HARD: “So laid back if he were anymore laid back he would be in a coma.” It made me laugh for 2 reasons: 1. It’s funny and 2. I KNOW!! My husband is the same way and at first I loved that about him but now I’m all “Can you step up once in awhile so I’m not always the one who has to do it????” Thank you so much for your comment. You validated ME!!!
You hit the nail on the head Robyn. As usual!My first marriage was a means to escape my home life (I was 25) and it was a “starter” marriage. I went into it (delusionally) thinking it was going to be forever, but quickly found that we were not meant to get married. But being the good Catholic girl I am, I stuck around for 7 long years! ugh! Luckily, I found the most wonderful match for me in Scott several years later. Even though the first one failed, it really did help me focus on what I needed in a spouse to make it for the long haul:) I know I am blessed to have him. I have already told my girls they are NOT allowed to get married before 30!!! Go have fun, travel, date lots of guys,buy lots of clothes and live life then settle in and be married.
Hi Lorelei!! I’m so excited to hear from you!!!!!!!!!!! You just brought back about 100 memories. I remember when you met Scott. I remember when you married him (I ate so much at your wedding and I was driving Mark D crazy until the cake came out). You totally had a Chapter 2 after your first marriage. You got your head together, you got all gorgeous and in shape and went on to find Mr. Right. I love that about you and I remember that I always though you were so brave to do so. Wow, I’m so happy you commented. I miss you and I can not convey nearly enough how happy I am to hear from you. XOXOXOXO
Hazel M. Wheeler says
I appreciated your post, Robyn. Add yourself into your own picture for your girls, too. The buffet may feature some top-quality dishes, and you’ll also need to be there to see the fuzz growing on some slop in the corner and go “uh, honey, I know I said Buffet, but not *that*…*that* will end you up in the hospital”… She can spoon them up, but you have the Mama-fork to poke them in the ass and away from your girl if need be.
So glad to hear from someone such as Andrea, who, after 31 years, sounds like there’s a lot of love, understanding and humor in her marriage.
I also highly recommend pre-marital counseling, and not just if you are part of a religion or church, not just if the pastor will only marry you after a series of sessions. There’s an automatic vetting process that goes with “let’s see if we’ll make a good couple” counseling. For example, you get to find out if your potential mate is able to “look at their stuff” and address any situations which may be problematic, or if they think they’re already perfect with no room for improvement and that you are the one that gets to make all the adjustments. Both my husband and I were previously divorced and it was great to have someone help us love each other better. Plus, when things get sticky, we still have an advocate to turn to and consult, someone who is in our mutual corner and remembers our story together, someone to help us reexamine our priorities as a family. It’s been invaluable.
You always poke at my brain with a stick and make me think, Robyn. Kudos.
I love that you brought up the counseling. UGH, I wish I had thought of that!! I have so much to say but my fingers aren’t moving as fast as my brain.
First, you totally reminded me that whenever someone would come to see my dad for a divorce, he would always make them to go to counseling first. I’m all about counseling. In fact, I always tell Cody I think we should go just for “tune ups” once in awhile but we still haven’t made it. I’m going to bump it up on my priority list though, you are so right. It’s just as important to go to counseling when things are good as it is when things are bad.
Second, you also reminded me that before Cody and I got married, the Rabbi who married us also made us go to counseling. We went to him. It was probably more so he could get to know us before he married us, but still–it was a good exercise for us as a couple. I love that you brought up counseling. YOU’RE SO FREAKIN’ SMART, GIRL!!!!
Thank you…as always. You know how much I appreciate you.
I read this with tears. Only YOU know why. Just add “isolated from family and lifelong friends” and you have me pegged.
I love you. And I miss you. A LOT.
I related especially to the part about not having to settle into a marriage and a man just to have kids…I didn’t!!! Don’t let society, even though we do live in the year 2012, tell you otherwise! You can be a SINGLE mom and be satisfied!!! I never felt that I wanted to settle for the guy to have the kid. I had the kid, and now, I will find (maybe???) the perfect guy for ME!!! I will never settle…and I would never want to pass that message along to any girl, or boy, that they have to do that for societal reasons! Your words and messages just state it so PERFECTLY!!! LOVE reading your posts. I can so relate…on a different level…but, I do relate! Thank you!
So happy to hear from Team “I DON’T NEED NO MAN TO HAVE A KID.”
I admire you more than you know for what you are doing and for the life you are giving you are giving your little man. I know from when Cody is at camp how hard it is to do it alone full time. It is not easy. When you’re divorced, you get to split the time so right when you’re ready to lose your mind, you can pass the kid on. You don’t have that luxury. It’s all you, all the time and I have no doubt that you are doing an amazing job. Just know that there is someone out there who admires you and thinks you are the shiz, cuz I do.
theresa kennedy says
I read once i Cosmo a woman has to date over 25 guys before she meets the right one..not screw all of them just date…but if you want too go ahead!…Love is fun and hard to find for sure…thanks for the blog! T
That is awesome, Theresa. I love that. (I especially love how you’re giving the go-ahead to screw all of them).
I don’t know if a woman needs to date 25 before meeting the right one–I don’t know if there is a magic number– but if the right one is somewhere in that 25, you gotta figure that by the time she’s done with all 25 of them, she’ll know who the right one is. Right?
Thank you so much for reading and for your comment. It made me laugh and I loved it.
Well I ate from the buffet and now I’m full. I also went back for seconds and thirds but just ended up feeling sick…
I agree wholeheartedly with your blog. I think where we as women go wrong is before we start trying out what we like and what we don’t, some of us are not secure about ourselves and our self esteem is questionable. We end up settling. Make sure your girls don’t settle , that was always my mistake. Also I thought when I did find someone it would be perfect, that only sets you up to be disappointed when issues arise, which they inevitably do….then you walk away without giving it a chance.
I’m lucky I only have a son….they’re not that deep. I did manage to raise him alone from a fairly young age without being in a fully committed/live in relationship. Maybe my path was to bring up a man who is going to treat women with respect and kindness so the girl who meets him doesn’t go through all my angst!
And maybe, just maybe, I’m feeling a bit peckish again….
You raise so many good points, Edwina.
You are probably right about settling having to do with self esteem. That never occured to me; I’m not sure why but it makes a lot of sense and Cody and I are really trying to teach our kids to have high self-esteem (though I’m not sure if that can be taught–maybe DRILLED is a better word for what we’re doing).
I also love what you said about putting someone on a pedestool and then being disappointed. That ineveitably seems to happen, doesn’t it? …and it’s so…deflating when it does. I know. I think everyone knows what that is like.
And lastly, I love what you said about your path in terms of raising a son, and how you’re raising your him. That is huge. I just love your whole comment and how you reflected on what I said and tied it into your life. That makes me happy–and if your son turns out to be half as awesome as you are, you will have done a great job with him.
Thanks Robyn….that means a lot.
I have read many blogs on the net…searching for one that makes sense to me. Thanks to my son going to Tanuga, I found yours.
I love your blogs…your words resonate with many. That’s a gift. Never stop doing what you do.
I don’t know how many they truly resonate with but even if it’s just you, I’m happy. Thank you for being so loyal. I’m grateful to have you and your comment today was KILLER.
Yep, I get really tired of doing most of the stuff or having to leave a detailed list of what to do as though the hubs is visiting and doesn’t live here enough to know what is supposed to be done. I almost feel sorry for him though because I start a new full job next week as opposed to the 20 to 33 hours I work now so I think reality is going to smack us both and we are going to have a “Come to Jesus” party if he doesn’t get the new reality.
I know all about those “Come to Jesus” parties. They are not fun but things always seem to better when they’re over. Get your list of demands ready, grab a bottle of wine and definitely have some cake during the “party.” All three of those things will help. 🙂 Good luck with the talk and with your new job!