The Way Things Are



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I know itís been said
2005-05-02, 11:57 a.m.

I know itís been said over and over and over again, and that people who are much wiser in the ways of science than I have figured this out, but itís one of those Life Lessons that nobody really gets til they learn it on their own. And here it is: You Canít Win.

Oh, yes, please do elaborate, Laura.

Splendid. Why, I donít mind if I do.

Hey, yíall remember when I was all miserable and unhappy and jealous and shrewish and harpish because DW was out all hours playing games with balls, i.e. games in which balls are thrown and caught, and then drinking with the guys afterward, and that I was all LOOOONELY and SAAAAD and I wanted my husband home NOW and I wanted him in bed next to me NOW and heíd better call me and tell me where he is NOW, and heíd better not be out having fun without me? Remember my conflict about assuming the role of strict hall monitor wife and losing the freedom of my fun girlfriend identity? Remember that? Remember?

Well, I have gotten over it. I donít care. I have detached myself from it sufficiently that the only things I really care about regarding his extra-homicular activities are that he: (1) not get hurt (2) not go to jail (3) not get a DWI, and (4) not come home drunk and bother me with drunky conversation or clumsy attempts at sex.

Because yíall, I do not have sex with drunk people unless Iím drunk, too. But I digress.

If heís home with me and we do nothing but lay on the couch in twin comas, thatís fine. If heís home with me and weíre lively and peppy and dancing around the living room and having sex, thatís even better. If heís home with me and we go out and have Mexican food and a few margaritas and go out in public with real live actual people, thatís really good.

But if heís out doing whatever, drinking and playing pool and playing that wretched golf video game that seems to have infested all the bars in our town, and discussing the flag football tournament ad nauseum, and Iím home sleeping in my bed soundly, Iím fine with that.

The good things make me happy, but the previously unacceptable things donít make my UNhappy. I have come to realize that having him there doesnít complete me any better than I can complete myself, and that IN FACT, I complete myself much better than he does.

The best way I can express this is ďI donít care.Ē

Itís not that I donít care in an uncaring, spiteful way. Itís that I donít care in a not unhappy, not crazy, not clingy, not possessive, not tearful way. I will clean the house. I will read a book. I will watch TV. I will have drinks after work with my co-workers. I will drink wine and bake cookies. I will go to sleep. Whatever. All the same stuff that I used to do when I was single, I am perfectly content to do now that I am married. When heís around, we can do stuff together. And when heís not around, Iíve got plenty to do on my own to stay busy and content and whole.

And this hurts his feelings.

Thatís right. It hurts his feelings. The man who spoke those horrible, horrible words- ďIím Not HappyĒ -to me a year or two ago because I was upset at our frequent sports-induced separations, now has his feelings hurt because I donít care.

I donít think it would hurt him if I just didnít mind. Saying ďI donít mindĒ implies that what he is doing is perfectly OK and that it is acceptable behavior and that I was wrong, and he was right, and please forgive me. I donít mind, honey.

Itís not that I donít mind, itís that I donít care. As long as my conditions are met (no injury, jail, DWI or drunken booty calls), it doesnít bother me BECAUSE I HAVE TAKEN A STEP BACK OUT OF HIS ASS and re-established myself as an individual whose fun-girlfriend psyche isnít completed or destroyed based on her husbandís behavior.

Itís not a way that he is treating me. It is his own behavior, his actions, and I donít own any part of it. It is a separate thing from me, and while I am concerned if his behavior and actions lead him into any kind of danger or trouble, the harmless part of it is something that I just canít care about.

I feel very good about it, because I had a really REALLY hard time with this when the possibility first raised its sleepy head in our relationship. You know, when the horneymoon is over and the two who shall become one shall begin to separate their personalities just a bit and re-establish their individuality. I didnít want that. I wanted us up in each otherís asses 24/7, and I looked with terror at our friends whose marriages seemed so dismal, so wrong, because they had their own separate lives to lead, and sometimes they ended up at home in the same bed at the same time.

I had unrealistic expectations when we were first married. Our marriage wasnít going to end up like that, and I would fight it tooth and nail to keep it from going into that good night.

And it didnít work. It is inevitable that two people who are each otherís long-lost twin, best friend, soul mate, and ďyou complete meĒ whatever, it is inevitable that even these two people will step back, will individualize a bit. The only way to stay joined at the hip is to have no real identity or personality at all.

DW was the first one in our relationship to step back. And it hurt me. I felt rejected. You all know that. Anyone who has read back a bit in here knows that. Thereís a smorgasbord of weepy entries for you to read if you wish to relive any of that.

Now that I have taken the same step back, he has his feelings hurt. I didnít act or do anything different. I just mentioned it in a conversation with another couple we know who face the same sports-related challenges.

ďI canít believe you donít care.Ē

ďItís not that I donít care about you, itís that I donít care how late you stay out at night.Ē

ďThat sounds really bad, that you donít care.Ē

ďI care about you, I just donít care if you party with your guy friends and I stay home.Ē

This was Saturday night. Heís still got his panties bunched up over it.

Re-reading this for the sake of grammar and continuity, I realize that I sound pretty bitchy. I refuse to say ďI donít mind.Ē I insist upon ďI donít care.Ē I have had to think long and hard about it, well, at least 10 minutes, and I have figured out that I enjoy that little dig, the little barbed end on ďI donít careĒ that provides just a nick of pain.

Not caring is freeing and releasing. It is blessedly unburdened by angst. But it is also the ratcheting down of expectations. So I Ďspose I am just a bit miffed at having had to crank Ďem down a little bit. But hereís the rub: he has told me that he will continue to do what he wants to do because he knows that even if I get mad, Iíll get over it. I think he thought he was being funny, but it was eye-opening, and it smarted. It was a declaration of no compromise.

So sure, I want it to prick just a little bit, because I am the one who has had to compromise her expectations. I did it, I feel better for it, thereís no fighting, no crying, no arguments. Iím free. I donít feel like he is responsible for my happiness. If we are out, and Iím tired, Iím going home and he doesnít have to come home with me if he doesnít want to. If heís out with the guys, he can stay out late with them, or come home to me if he wants to. Sure, Iíd love for him to want to, but after 4 years, I have figured out that he mostly doesnít want to.

My happiness does not hang on whether or not my husband does what I think he should do, or whether he wants what I think he should want. And now his feelings are hurt. I cannot win.

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