I’ll Know, There and Then

This blog goes out to my recently married and those in the conversation of marriage.

If it is actually hard to know when you have met the right one, it’s harder to know when you’ve met the wrong one. We have criteria that stretch all across the board, from hair colour to religion to sense of humor to shoe size, and when you have accepted, as we all must, that some of your criteria will not be met, it’s hard to know where to draw the line.

For some of us, it’s easy. We picture a life with the person we’re dating, and we see a path that is just so obviously one thousand times better than the path we are on now that it makes it easy to commit. I think, for a lot of people, being rich and handsome helps clear this up. If you are a rich and handsome man or woman than a) everyone pictures a life with you as easy and b) your life is already kind of easy, so you can move to the next set of criteria for choosing a mate.

I’m sure we’d like to pretend that this doesn’t still happen, but it does. People right now, our age, are getting married to people with money, people with American citizenship, people who own pizza parlors, because it clears up a bit of our future.

This hasn’t really happened with the group of people that I am friends with. We are sorta mired in lower-middle to middle-middle class, and we all know each other, and we’re all getting married anyway. And some of my friends who are doing quite well are finding it hard to find that special someone, so money doesn’t seem to be too much of a factor.

Ehtnicity doesn’t seem to be a huge factor, but I have to admit that none of my friends are dating outside the accepted ethnic structure. Everyone’s white, and you can go as far afield as Italian, Asian, maybe a little Spanish, but for the most part the ethnic specifics haven’t really been a point that has whittled down the field for too many people.

Just outside ethnicity is religion and politics, and honestly, for the most part, those things are so fluid that you really ought to not make a choice based on *only* this. My sister has said she wouldn’t date anyone who voted for George Bush, but, she’s still willing to date all of Washington State and, y’know, Illinois, so this shouldn’t be a problem. Besides all of that shifts under your feet, you can certainly change your mind about politics. And religion is something that becomes more important as you become more part of your community.

Looks… I mean, it really is mostly that, and you can’t argue against it. I’d always claimed to live a life devoid of such crass beauty issues, but when it was pointed out that I was willing to date really good looking dumb girls, I quit claiming it. I definitely have never had a *specific* thing I was looking for (like a big breast fetish)…(No, Ian, I’m not talking about you)…(why are you getting so defensive? I said I wasn’t talking about you)…, I’ve always had an appreciation of different kinds of beauty, but I also have generally steered toward the blowing skirts of ladies who gather me to their breasts, so to speak.

But, fine, that all fades and I know it. Not that I’ve ever been married to someone over the age of 28, but I have the hots for Mary Steenburgen, so hopefully I won’t turn in to an asshole. Beauty isn’t something you can rely on.

The truth is, there is no answer, no one thing. But I can tell you what it is for me, and if it is this for me, maybe it will be this for my pals and friends who are just married or are considering it.

It isn’t the girl you want to be in the foxhole with. The foxhole is an actual life threatening situation that you are pretending the two of you are in together. For me, it’s the opposite. A non-life threatening situation that you think you are actually in, and she jumps in with you.

My wife and I both have the crazies. You have them too, and so does the person you’re dating. I get the crazies sometimes, and I say, “I know I shouldn’t be taking this personally. I know it isn’t as bad as it feels. But I can’t sleep, I can’t eat, I’m fucking miserable”. When I tell her the sky is falling, she doesn’t even look up. She tells me to get inside and take cover, and she’ll let me know when it’s all over. She never tells me that the sky isn’t falling.

I know my friends hate this, that they might have to do it with their current or future girlfriends. I can think of one friend in particular who’s stomach is turning at the thought of having to make someone else’s crazy their own. (No, not you, Jonathan.)(Dude, I said not you!)

(Okay. Yeah, you.)

But a great relationship is one where the fine line of embracing the crazy without infantilizing or coddling is followed. “Yes, the sky is falling” met with “but you are strong enough to handle it, now put on your boots and keep walking.” Remember, you have to do it for them. But if you can, and if you can find a partner to do it for you, that’s really all you should be waiting for.