Friday, April 12, 2013

Am I too cynical?

It's a fair question, seeing as I run an entire blog based on my divorce.

Someone told me today they were tired of my cynical opinion, and in specific it was relating to my opinion on marriage.

Which seems strange as I am currently excitedly getting ready to get married a second time, after the last one ended in a big ball o' flames that SHOULD have made me hate men forever. And wasn't even all that long ago really. I am cautious, at worst. Especially about those who marry young. When my brother and his wife got engaged, I told him I didn't think it was a good idea. They were 20. And I also had a 4 hour conversation with her about it. But I love them both and knew that if they made up their minds, it was going to happen, and that was the end of it. They seem to be doing just fine, and that's all I'm really concerned about. In the end, marriage is about what's right for you and your partner. Not what other people have to say.

But let's be real for just a moment...

People who marry young don't have great odds. I'm not saying that every couple that marries young will divorce, but the chances are higher for them than those who wait.

This entire episode today took place because this article was posted.
I married young. What are the rest of you waiting for?

It ruffled my feathers, to say the least.

Again, marriage is a decision each person has to make. And no one's solution is a one-size-fits-all. Mine certainly wasn't/isn't, but neither is the author of this piece's advice. The entire tone of it condescends to those who don't marry early, insinuating that either those who hold off and wait are under some misconception that marriage is a thing we do once we're done being kids, "all grown up" and ready to settle down for a life of boredom, or that the people don't get married young because they want to date around and find their "soul mate." She argues instead that it is it's own new learning experience and growing up experience, and that your partner "becomes" your soul mate, that there is no such thing all on it's own.

I don't disagree with the basic idea here, but I also know that most people don't finish changing psychologically until they are 25, if even then. And with divorce rates what they are, who isn't scared to get married and have it crash and burn? With the stigma still attached to divorce, no one wants such a public failure, especially after a lavish wedding! And the element of social media makes these break ups quite public. And why wouldn't I want to date around until I found the most compatible mate. Someone I know I can spend my life with? I'm not saying we all have to find a soul mate, marriage is a choice, but I'm still going to choose someone that is best suited to spend their life with me and I with them!

I fear for people around me. I am not cynical about marriage. I think it's great. It's why I'm such a strong supported of marriage equality. Because for those of us who want it, we should have it. I've said it before, marriage isn't for everyone. Some people function best without all that legal crap. And I respect that. But for those of us who do, marriage is a personal decision, best left to your personal beliefs, personal life, and personal relationships. Marrying young isn't for everyone. It's for a pretty select few as it turns out. I wasn't one of those, and I've seen enough of them crash and burn around me to not want to see people I care about fall there too.

People may think I write this blog to preach about my life, or how awful X was to me. People may think I do it to "hear my own voice." Maybe, in some way, that's true.

But the real reason I write this blog is because of how isolated and alone and ashamed I felt after X left me. Because no one around me could understand. Because I wanted so very badly to feel less alone, and the resources just weren't there. My life is a mostly open book, so I am putting it up here for people to read in hopes that my life, my poor choices can serve as a cautionary tale to those who may be where I was. I can't save everyone. I can't tell you what to do with your life, and I would never deign to do so.

This is another fact some people would likely contest and say I've butted my nose in where it doesn't belong regarding my friends' relationships.
This is also a direct result of my failed marriage.
In the weeks following my return to my hometown, almost 100% of my friends told me how they all thought X was a scumbag and all guessed that this would happen. They all said they knew he was not right for me.
And not a single one stepped up to say "Hey, he's being incredibly emotionally abusive." or "I don't think this behavior is healthy for you two, you should really think about this more."

No, instead, everyone just congratulated me on my engagement. And when I was getting cold feet and asking for second opinions? Just a second round of the above comments.

So I will not be silent. I will not shut up. I am not cynical about marriage. But I am cynical about our perceptions of what marriage is. The truth is... none of us know what marriage really is. Not me, and I've been married. But my former marriage was nothing like what my upcoming marriage will be. My parents' marriage is nothing like what yours is/will be. Marriage is as individual as those entering it. For some it is more traditional, but for some of us it is something completely new. And maybe I am preaching to the choir. But I'll keep preaching.

I do this because I love you. I love you even if I don't know you, and I want you to be happy. I don't want people to get hurt. If anything I write can serve as a warning to the things you shouldn't let happen to you, then I am happy to keep doing this. But if all this sounds like is a constant whine-fest about my life... then perhaps it is time to shut down this blog.

But I don't think that's the case. I think that I have readers who genuinely benefit from my posts. Even if it's my fellow divorcees who take solace in knowing they aren't alone in their struggles and pain. I know that you can't tell people some things. That people have to learn from their own mistakes. But that's not entirely true. So many of us DO learn from seeing those around us make bad decisions and knowing that's exactly what we don't want to do. So unless I get a resounded "STFU" response to this entry, I'll keep typing away for you.

Because I love you.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

"Don't ever change for anyone!" ..... Pshaw.

I'd like to address a common cliche people say. They say it to those who just experienced a break up the most, but it's said to lots of other people as well. It's come to my attention due to several people around me experiencing relationship woes, and their friends all leave comments on their statuses and pictures "You should never change yourself for anyone, they should love you exactly as you are!"

That's half true.

Yes, they should love you exactly as you are. But people, this is LIFE. Love is NOT the all-conquering power in the world. Determination is. And love is a two-way (or more for those poly readers of mine, I suppose?) street. Yes, Alan loves me exactly as I am, and we have had lots of conversations about behaviors and habits we both have that irritate the other. But we had to make a decision about those behaviors. Does Alan's nagging about my cluttered lifestyle bother me enough to break off the relationship? Of course not. Does my cluttered lifestyle bother Alan enough to break off the relationship? No, so we continue on as we are.

But there ARE behaviors that we have both had to compromise and learn to change. Alan has had some especially rough growing pains over our 3 years together, as I am his first truly long term relationship. There were lots of near misses and nasty bumps along the way, and he had to learn not only how to be in a relationship at all, but how to be in one with ME. I'm a tad high-maintenance and demanding and came with a bit more baggage than most. Poor guy! But he took it all in stride, he learned, he adapted and changed his behaviors, and if you met the Alan I met 3 years ago, you'd never know it was the same guy! The same can be said of me! I've become a more responsible, attentive, and considerate person thanks to Alan.

Now, a lot of people like to make the distinction "I'm making these changes for me, not for the other person." Let's all quit lying to ourselves about this right now. If we wanted to make those changes for just us, then why the hell are we dating and marrying anyways??? We're making those changes to make us a more complete person to make us more appealing to a possible mate. And there is NOTHING wrong with that. We learn from failed relationships and should often take some time after them to reflect on what went wrong, how we can avoid it in the future, what mistakes we made, what qualities in the other person we didn't find desirable, and what changes to make. We must GROW to continue on our search for happiness.

Now I know some people will say they are perfectly happy without a mate, and you know what, good for you. But the majority of us want a mate. Either to spend our lives with someone we love, to start a family, to find financial stability, whatever. Or just to have a steady partner in bed. Whatever the reason, most of us want some kind of mate. And in order to find happiness with a mate, we have to make ourselves "mate-able." And that means change.

And change is GOOD. Even if it's the wrong change, you can't learn from making the right choices all the time. Make the wrong change, and be like "OH SHIT that was.... that was just NOT the right path man." And then make another change. "Oh for fucks sake. Not door number 2 apparently." Until you get it right.

And finally, get the right tools. This is so important.

This often means stepping outside your comfort zone. If there is a need for it, see a counselor. Or get couples counseling. This isn't a sign of weakness, it's a sign of willingness to learn, willingness to make the changes needed to keep the relationship with the one you love more than anything. Don't make excuses, make time.

Or maybe the tools are something as simple as learning to let go a little. Or learning to cook (heh..... I'm pretty slow on that one), or learning to play a video game with your significant other. But if you need help with learning those things, seek it! Talk to a professional, OR talk to your friends. Sometimes your friends have a wealth of wisdom or experiences that might be valuable to you. Even if it means learning from them what not to do! Or both. But don't hide in your hole, don't be ashamed of relationship troubles. We all have them. Alan and I are a perfect match, but we are by no means perfect. We're human and we argue. Maybe a lot. Maybe a normal amount. Who knows, and who cares besides us? But bet your ass I go to my friends about our problems. I get advice, ideas, and perspective.

Take this to heart.