Sometimes I hear a story that I can't immediately make sense of, but it's interesting and so I stew on it for several days to make up my mind about how I feel about it. Today, it's about marriage, and what makes a good one, and what a woman's role should be in a marriage. Maybe by the end of this I'll have a good, coherent argument, but I think we can all agree that this is a polarizing topic. Or, maybe I'm just starting to realize that people have VASTLY different opinions on what makes a good marriage.
Yesterday I came into the tail end of a conversation between two co-workers. Both are male, both are divorced. They were talking about another co-worker, D. I missed most of the details, but it came down to that D. had taken a trip by herself, and this bewildered the male co-workers. They were trying to make sense of it, and were jumping to some pretty amazing conclusions.
D. is not your average person. She's different in a way that can be off putting. But I have gotten to know her a little better over the last few weeks and am now finding her much more interesting. She's definitely a more than meets the eye kind of person.
D. didn't think she'd ever get married and she was in her late 30s when she met her husband. She really didn't intend to meet a husband, but it happened. Then, she thought she was going through menopause, but it turned out that she was pregnant. So, in the span of a few short years, the landscape of D.'s life completely flip turned upside down.
She ran with it, and she obviously dotes on her son. You can't get through a shift without hearing some story, or several stories, about her son. You can see that he makes her very happy, even though she had previously not thought that she wanted to be a mother.
D. is a little older now, and her son is grown and out of the house. She's still married, but evidently she wanted to take a trip by herself, and she did. She did not want to go with her husband or her son, she wanted to go by herself. And this bothered the male co-workers.
These guys were saying several things about D. and her husband that didn't sit right with me. One of them had said that he asked D. why she didn't talk about her husband much at work and she responded, "Why would I?" This statement bothered the man immensely and he took to assuming that this meant that D. did not care about her husband.
"It's a marriage of convenience," he said.
Things that make you go hmmmm.
Is D.'s marriage one of convenience because she doesn't speak about her husband at every single opportunity? Because her husband doesn't visit her at work, does that mean that he does not love her? If D. wants to take a trip by herself, does that mean that she does not enjoy spending time with her husband?
I don't think so.
Because I am me and can't keep quiet when something bothers me, I spoke up. These two men weren't listening at all. They had made up their minds about it, and obviously, I would agree with D. because a.) I almost never talk about my husband at work because, why?, b.) neither of them have met my husband because he never comes into the store because, hassle, and c.) I said that I would pay someone to take care of my family in order to go on a trip by myself. I sigh happily when I think about solitary travel.
Obviously, I'm in the D. camp and, therefore, my marriage must be one of convenience as well.
This was really bothering me, that they would think that, and I could have gone on and on about my husband and how safe and secure our marriage is. But, it occurred to me that it really doesn't matter one bit what they think of my marriage, or frankly, what anyone thinks.
And, I can't lie, I looked at those two men (divorced) and compared them to D. and me with our husbands (still married) and I admit that I felt a little smug. So I let it go.
But it sat with me.
We all know those couples that can't help but profess their love for their spouses at every opportunity, and sometimes it's quite icky (ok, most times). Sometimes we are lucky enough to meet a couple that really IS that happy, and are obviously meant for each other. Other times, we see couples that are struggling. Maybe we want to help fix it. Maybe it isn't meant to be fixed.
But that's not our place to say. Two people that have the only say in how a marriage looks are the ones who signed that marriage license and said their I do's. That's it.
My husband is never going to be my entire world. That's not how I look at marriage. He is not equipped to be that for me, and honestly, I would think less of myself if I depended on a man to make me whole. I make me whole. He contributes parts. As do my children, my family, my friends, my hobbies.
Just like D.
I guess that I thought everyone thought that way, but apparently not.
It's always immensely interesting to me to get to peek into other people's lives. I remember one time sitting with my step-grandma, after eating. We were just watching people and not talking. I asked her if she wanted to leave and she said, "No, I'm enjoying watching." Maybe this explains the fascination people have with reality television. We like that inside information.
That's all fine and good, but when we make judgments based on a small snippet, that's just not fair. If I could have had those two guys' real attention, I would have said that more eloquently. But I think you have to be in the right place to hear a dissenting opinion. And, quite frankly, it's none of my business how they think about relationships. I hope they can find partners who believe they are everything.
And D. and I will go on trips by ourselves and feel just fine about that. And then come home to our husbands.
Maybe this is just me? I'm genuinely interested to hear how other people think a good marriage should look.