May 11, 2021

Coffee Break: Perry Tote

Coffee Break: Perry Tote

Yes. I am in a marriage like this and so are many people I know. I understand the genesis of the perspective you are expressing; women have been fed a completely unrealistic fantasy about marriage, which is that the only way a marriage works is if you meet someone who you find attractive (and is also at the “same level” of attractiveness as you); who shares all your interests; who has the exact same political philosophies; who matches your level of career ambition/orientation; who wants exactly what you want in terms of children, pets, religion, home decorating, vacations, etc. Two perfectly matched people meet and fall in love and live happily ever after with no problems except maybe a wacky cousin who shows up unexpectedly for a two-week visit or, maybe, a meddling mother-in-law. That’s every rom-com in the book, right? Problem is, that’s all fiction. But people take it as fact.

What marriage really is (speaking as someone who has been married over two decades) is two people who have ALIGNED priorities and A FEW, SIMILAR interests deciding they can negotiate their way through the differences that emerge and make a life together. From watching many couples come together and break up over the years, what I have seen is that the couple in the above scenario, who are simply simpatico in every way, either end up getting bored with each other and someone cheats with a person who is completely unlike their spouse, or they compete with each other constantly and break up because the acrimony is too much to bear. Which I definitely get. I mean, I like myself, but what am I going to get out of being coupled with another me? I need someone who is going to challenge my perceptions, open my eyes to new perspectives, push me to do things I wouldn’t do otherwise. My husband does that for me. I do that for him. We don’t agree on everything but we mostly agree on the big stuff and most importantly, when we don’t agree on something we are willing to listen to each other. We are willing to believe that the other person’s perspective, while different from ours, still has validity and we’re willing to consider it. No offense but that’s not an attitude I see many women here exhibiting. If the women here who stridently berate anyone who expresses an opinion different from their own on this board also do that in their personal lives, it’s not really a surprise why they’re lonely, either for partnership or for friends. People who insist on being right all the time and flat-out refuse to consider that someone with a different opinion might have a valid point are exhausting, full stop. There aren’t many people willing to take that on for life. I wouldn’t do it.

There are no relationships that do or don’t work “on paper” because relationships are living, breathing, dynamic things. A person is not a list of attributes on a piece of paper, and what’s more, people change over time and the “perfect person” you thought you were marrying at age 30 is likely going to evolve (maybe considerably!) between 30 and 50. What I see in Millennials and Gen Z is that regardless of their cynicism about everything else, they have bought into the ridiculous fantasies sold in romance novels and rom-coms that if they just wait it out their “perfect match” who looks, talks, acts and thinks exactly how they have envisioned will show up some day and everything will be perfect from then on out. NOPE. That’s not real life and it never will be. P.S. this is exactly why I found Indian Matchmaking so fascinating. Say what you want but there were some excellent nuggets about how relationships work in the real world that were shown in that show. Both the men and the women were guilty of looking for things that don’t really exist in real human relationships. I don’t think arranged marriages are any kind of answer but do very much think younger people need to get real about relationships. Or just admit that they’re happier and better off permanently single, which is completely OK.

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