Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Love is a crapshoot.


Or? I’m a demanding bitch.

Allow me to explain.

A week ago, my great Uncle died. He lived a good life for 82 years. He was married for over 60 of them. He had 10 kids and too many grandkids too count. He was well respected in our community.

At his funeral – the line for visitation extended all the way outside the church onto the sidewalk and the wait was for more than an hour.

He
Lived
A
Good
Life.

And I’m not here to bash a man that has passed away. I’m actually here to comment on the woman he left behind.

I didn’t know him well. I knew her. She is an angel here on Earth.

When our Priest spoke at her husband’s funeral he spoke of their love and their marriage that lasted over 60 years – because that’s something to be proud of. Something rare in today’s world.

Rare? Maybe. Good? Depends on who you ask I suppose.

I just think real, true love is a crapshoot...and it takes work - from TWO people.

Their marriage was good but he was kind of a gruff old man. He didn’t let her drive. If she wanted to go somewhere – that meant she only went if he felt like driving her there. He guarded THEIR money like nobody’s business so she didn’t have a lot and learned not to even ask.

Like for instance:

Every single day HE met his friends at the local gas station for coffee. To bullshit. For hours every morning. HE insisted she go too because – duh – it was fun. Why wouldn’t she want to go? It was their routine – it was what they did.

The day after he died her daughters asked her if she’d like one of them to take her up to the gas station for coffee every day like she was used to and her reply shocked them all.

She said:  Absolutely not. I hate going there. I can’t hear anything that is being said. I sit there for hours and nod and pretend I’m listening. I never want to go there again.

Jesus, Mary and Bart. They about fell down.  Not a single person knew she hated it.  Can you believe that?

First of all – they all knew she was having trouble hearing but he was too tight with their money to buy his own wife a damn hearing aid.

Second – she learned in their marriage not to even bother asking for one.

Third – for years – Y.E.A.R.S. – she sat in a gas station for hours – nodding her head and pretending to care and listen – hating every moment of it – never telling him any different.

Just typing that out makes ME resent him. Makes ME angry. Makes ME want to burn my bra and scream for women’s lib or something like that.

If that is what a rare 60 years of marriage and hour long lines at your funeral brings you – I don’t want it.

I don’t.

If that’s what my significant other can say about our daily routine once I’m gone – I have failed.

I’ll be damned if I could sit for even one week pretending I was listening and happy, while not hearing a damn thing knowing the whole that we had the money so I could hear if HE would let me. Knowing he didn’t care enough to spend our money to make me happy. Knowing he never asked how I felt or what I wanted to do.

And now it’s too late. He’s dead. His money he didn’t take with him. She resents him. Part of her is happy he’s gone because she never has to sit in that gas station ever again – and pretend. She can go wherever the hell she wants when she wants.

The sad part is she’s old now too – and her health is fading – and it’s too late to enjoy her newfound freedom. I just keep feeling sad for her. Her life became his. What he wanted, when he wanted and he didn’t even notice.

To me – THAT is not love. To everyone in town – it was a 60 year solid marriage that everyone else hoped to have one day.

Everyone but me because I know some of the inner details of it.

And yes, I know – no marriage is perfect and I’m sounding judgemental. I suppose I’m defending my own marriage demands. And Rambo’s.

We both grew up watching imperfect marriages and as hard as that was – it taught us both what we never, ever wanted. More often than not – we demand to be heard. We demand to be treated with respect. We demand discussions. We demand everything that in our opinion is what makes our marriage what we want.

And we have the balls to say that if the demands aren’t met – we’re willing to walk because as kids we both promised ourselves we’d never settle like our parents did.

It’s never something we talk about daily. It’s just always been understood since the beginning. I refuse to settle. So does he. I believe he deserves the best and I want to be that for him. He believes the same. Those feelings come out in our actions every single day and that’s how we always dreamed it would be.

So when I hear about my great Aunt – a woman with the gentlest soul ever – and I think about how unhappy she has been while she pretended to be fine…and I think about the regrets she has now and I think about what she may have said or done had he just once asked how she felt….it breaks my heart.

She deserved more than that from him. I wish she could have loved herself enough to demand it from him.

Literal years people. Years.

Think about that.

Five words. She couldn’t bring herself to say. For her own happiness.

I want a hearing aid.

Makes me wonder…how many of us aren’t saying words we need to say?

And how much will you regret not saying them one day….when it’s too late….and no one is listening anymore?

Say them now.

Please.

22 comments:

Banded Mommy (Angie) said...

Hmmm... To be honest with you this relationship reminds me of my in-laws in a way. My FIL is old school and grow it, make it, build it... everything yourself. They have a camper (one of the ones with the truck in the front) from 1982. It is falling apart and has needed to be replaced for eons. My MIL loves going out to dinner... even if all she eats is chicken tenders and fries... she loves going out. Just getting out and not being at home. Not having to do the dishes. Its not that my FIL is cheap its just the only way he knows. I always feel bad for my MIL because I know that she would love to go more places, in the camper, because she loves to travel. But he will NEVER buy a newer one for them to do that. They travel a few hours here and there to the same places every year. It's funny how people from their day are different. We were taught by them to be our own person and speak for ourselves and here they are (our mom's, grandmom's and great aunts) not doing that for themselves. Makes you think huh? All I know is that my husband knows that I will tell him what I want and if I really want it bad I will not shut up about it until we are able to get it.
Great post!!

Rachel said...

I love this post - makes me reflect on my own relationship as it grows... I met my better half last July, moved in with him in December, got engaged in May and celebrated one year last week. We've learned (quickly) that the only way to make it last and make it work is by communicating. Thanks for the reminder! xx

Miss Vickie "The Queen Bee" said...

Well, I had to go through a bad marriage the first time to figure out that I am worth something. Thank goodness I met John who treats me like a queen bee and I treat him like a king!

Karen Butler Ogle said...

Good post. Communication is so important in a marriage. I can say anything to Dail without fear that he will jump me. We both have touchy places but we are sensitive to those and tread carefully around them. It is so good to be really loved and RESPECTED by the person I love and respect most.

Janis said...

I was fortunate in that my parents got along well, and we were still poor enough that all I remember from when I was a kid is them working and working and working to raise us. The only reasons my brothers and I have all of our teeth is because my parents didn't have theirs.

And BOTH of my grandmothers had to defend themselves against abuse, one with a carving knife and one with a cast-iron frying pan. Both figured that they had to cook, clean, bow and scrape before those two, empty their effing spitoons and get dragged out of bed when their husbands would come home at all hours to cook for their tavern buddies who they would bring home, and it wouldn't even occur to them NOT to get their damned wives out of bed to cook at 3am ... but they would not have fists raised to them.

And these are the days of yore that we're supposed to praise as "simpler" when "women knew the value of their sexual mystery" or whatever garbage the pole-dancer variety of feminists is spewing nowdays. My mother was the first woman in her entire family to marry happily and have a decent husband, and she still worked herself to the bone to raise us, as did he.

Meanwhile, I wake up on weekend mornings whenever my eyes open, make some coffee for myself, and play the piano before taking a walk to get the blood moving, then come back and play piano some more or knit and crochet. In peace and quiet. Marriage comes with very few advantages, especially for women.

Dawn said...

I would feel upset for your aunt too that she spent so many years not speaking up for herself. I'm with you though that to make a marriage work both people have to be getting what they need. Good post!

Shannon said...

you are justified in your feelings for your aunt. Like you said marraige is a hard and takes communication. Just remember though that they are form a different generation and thats how alot of marraiges were back then.

I though am right on track with telling each other whatever needs to be said. My husband and I have a great relationship of equals because of it.

never settle!

Rachellabelle - My Hips Don't Lie said...

That is a sad, sad story. You would think 60 years married would mean they had the right connection. Rather, she was just capitulating to him.

I hope someone gets her a hearing aid now! :(

Joey said...

I just texted my hubs to say I love him :)

Jess said...

Very good post....I don't have anyone in my family like this but just hearing about it is sad in so many ways. My own fears and phobias about getting older and having too many regrets resonates from things like this very story. It's hard to deal with.

MandaPanda said...

Goodness! I couldn't live that way either but it was a different time and a different generation. I think the most anyone can do is take the story as a lesson to not settle. Great post!

Dawnya said...

Well you better believe I ain't settling. Even if I have to threaten to leave I will. He either gets it together or he gets going.

We have been there. Told him I wasn't happy. He sat on his hands and didn't change. He got a wakeup when he answered the phone one day and a man said please tell Ms. Ivey her apartment is ready and she can move in at anytime.

Yeah...I don't play.

Elizabeth said...

That is so sad! Great post tho! I think I settle more often then I should!

Anonymous said...

the job i used to work at for the last three years woul have about broken your heart in relation to this we had a guy who would call in and demand o2 tanks to be delivered no charge everyday because he would use his elcetricity to run his wife's concentrator .....cause it used to much "juice" and there is air all around or (and he would always say this) if we just didn't care neough to bring her tanks he figured she could just suffocate and die......every day this man called in.

and yes it takes two...i just wish more people knew this.

Anonymous said...

btw for some reason i can't post in my google acount^^^^^ that was me wendy

Kelly said...

I just told my Mom I loved her. :)

Cat said...

I just read this entire thing to my hubby. He loves your writing too. :) I asked him to make sure he's telling me what he needs if he feels like some needs aren't being met. I know mine are because I am a very loved and pampered woman who can get just about anything reasonable that I want. He said he feels absolutely loved and cherished in our relationship and he wants for nothing. I feel very happy and stable in my relationship. Thank you for this wake up call though because I'm certain that many of us just go through the motions sometimes because it is easier than making waves. It's too important though to not go through life happy. Love you dearest. *hearts*

Stace said...

I better go see if JAke needs a hearing aid! lol.

Great post. I feel so lucky too to be in a great marriage where I can say "you better be nice to be punk" :o)

AutumnLeaves said...

She is a very strong woman with fortitude beyond the pale. Different generation who saw/believed differently than we do now. At any rate, my problem is just the opposite. I never know when to shut up with my husband.

Laura Belle said...

I think what your Aunt went through was horrible. However, our generation feels differently about relationships than her generation did. Even my mother's generation is different than ours. We are all like, "WHA? you treat me bad?! I kick your ass!" We don't take shit from no one and we definitely think it's ridiculous to settle or not express ourselves.

But in you Aunt's era...they were bred to 'obey' their husbands, no matter what. It's what their mothers taught them and their mothers before. I bet your Aunt didn't even think twice about not doing what 'she wanted'. Because, she wasn't brought up to.

Even my mom does that. She stayed in a horrible marriage for 12 years and basically accepted my dad for who he was, which was not a very good husband, putting it lightly. Next came Mike, he was an awesome husband, but he was needy and I saw her bend to him and forget about herself or her own feelings. Same goes with her new BF.

I knew exactly what I wanted in a husband. You knew exactly what you wanted. And we weren't going to lower our standards for anyone. Because we were raised to stand up for ourselves and our feelings.

That being said...You're right, you have to work at love, but I don't mind. And now I'm going to work on my communication....

Ms. Chunky Chick said...

I would want a damn hearing aid too! And it is sad that there were expectations of wives(servants) in the past. That many wives had no voice in so many parts of there own lives. I will not be silent in my own life. I believe that there is no master/servant in a working relationship. And though hard I am learning my own voice in my relationships. Thanks for the great post!`

Joanna said...

Wow, reading this made me think of my grandparents.... I know that if my grandpa goes first - this will be the feeling of my grandmother.

The sad part is, that I know these feelings now - while he's still alive. I've asked her so many times why she puts up with it...why he has the control, and she says nothing.

Her response is always the same: It's just what I'm used to, and as messed up as it sounds - she wouldn't want it any other way.

It angers me, sometimes infuriates me the way he treats her - but it's what she's used to. They've been married for 40 years...and in a weird way, she's happy.

I agree with you - if being married for 40 or 60 years is like that... I don't want it. I'm so glad that I have what I have, and hopefully the legacy left behind by me will be a truly happy and equal one.