13 May 2009

Credit where credit's due

A shout out to D-Mom. I know. You're thinking, "WTF? D is praising her mom? Did hell freeze over?"

OK. OK. I know I'm hard on my mom, but that's mostly because she's hard on me. But I realized something in this whole episode of D-friend Bek's marital difficulties. Bek can't talk to her parents. She can't tell them her life is falling apart. At least I used to be able to talk to my mom. We don't go that route so much anymore, but if I was having some serious shit, I'd at least feel comfortable opening up the truth. So go Mom! And yesterday she gave me some solid on dealing with Bek and offering up some advice. Which, following up on my earlier post about toxic relationships, got me to thinking about love.

When I was married, the thing that gave me the greatest stress was not the way that my husband treated me in private, but the way that he treated me in public. I suppose if I'm honest about it, in my mind one of the great sins is to behave badly in public. A spouse necessarily reflects on you. They are the one you chose to spend your life with (presumably). And when they berate you, do stupid shit, get shit-faced, ask to kiss your best friend at midnight on New Year's Eve, dirty dance with your boss (all things that have happened to me by less than well meaning boyfriends or spouses), well, you get my drift. It is embarassing to look everyone in the eye once dipshit has sobered up or come down off whatever high he was on.

My father was a model of temperance and restraint. I suppose he is the archetype. But there aren't many men out there like my father. He seemed to be predictable without making it look like a challenge.

Bek's husband flew into a rage, ran off to his mother's house, drug everyone from his step-brother's girlfriend to the pastor's wife into his marital problems and after three days thinks he can leave a voice mail message on her phone, apologize and come home and all is well.

Oh hell no. Bek couldn't even call her parents and tell them she was having marital troubles because she is such a private person. If it was me, and my spouse went slinging our business into the marketplace, there would be no reconciliation. Fuck. That. Shit.

I'm never going to be one of those people who can just say, "yeah, well, he's a free spirit that significant other of mine. He _____________ (flies off the handle, drinks too much, dances on tables, chases the cocktail waitress around the pool, etc.). Ha!" The problem with getting my shorts in a knot when someone I am with behaves badly is this: it suggests that I am responsible for another person's behavior and we all know that is balderdash. While I'd love to know my other completely, be in complete agreement with him, be able to count on the constancy of his behavior, and to trust him to know what to do in all situations, I don't think it's gonna happen. HOWEVER, I do think that if your spouse is so unpredictable that you dread going to places with people you care about, you have a problem. If your significant other is habitually behaving outrageously (this is the second time Bek's S.O. has run home to mommy and gotten EVERYONE involved), you might just want to consider that particular red flag a little gift from God and a great big sign that you should cut your losses and move on. I know that if I don't have some measure of behavioral predictability, I can't relax and be happy.

I remember the incredible betrayal I felt when my husband made a bawdy joke at my expense to the landlord. He actually embarrassed the landlord. I was humiliated. I felt betrayed. I felt like my husband was a man I couldn't trust. This is the man who should have been the protector of my honor and instead he was the one tearing it down.

I actually want the kind of relationship where I never have to worry whether my spouse is going to humiliate me in front of my family, his family, my friends, his friends, or the general public. And you know, I sort of think if I find that, that's half the battle. Because if someone respects me enough to behave in a manner acceptable to me while around me, it suggests a level of compatibility that shouldn't be discounted. And yes, I do realize that my standards have devolved to "I'll settle for someone who just won't embarrass me in public". Oh, I don't think that two people are ever going to be in complete agreement on how we are going to conduct ourselves in public at all times. But I don't think there is anything inherently unreasonable in having reasonable expectations. I didn't have it in my marriage, but I always thought I should have.

So anyone who is single, tall, dark and handsome and fits that description, well, just drop me a line.

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