Archive | Relationships and Marriage

Exploring the intricacies of human relationships and marriage.

Happy Single Awareness Day!

Absent a nagging wife or a neurotic girlfriend, I feel as if I can freely be myself on Valentine’s:

Dancing in Balloon SuitsOne of the things I’ve noticed over the past year is how at ease with myself I am not when I’m with other people, but when I’m completely alone.  Solitude is quiet, peaceful, stress-free, and kinda awesome.  If it weren’t due to some sense of obligation to friends and family I probably would never talk to anyone, at least not for lengthy periods of time.  In fact, I’m planning as an experiment of sorts to go completely dark and off grid for say, a week, just to see how well it helps me recharge.  Solitude, and I mean REAL solitude, seems to be the only thing that truly helps me rejuvenate and unwind.  It doesn’t matter where I go, it only matters that I’m completely ALONE.

People exhaust me.  They’re rude, uncivil, fickle, weird, strange, incorrigible, LOUD, inane, insufferable and intolerable to deal with.  Whenever I interact with the lot of them it always seems to be too much to expect even a modicum of basic civility and etiquette.  Women especially seem to magnify these traits to an absurd degree by injecting emotion and drama into EVERY.  LITTLE.  THING.  In fact, I had to cut off my last romantic interest because the neurosis was out of control.  I know not EVERYONE is like this, but too many are, and if I had to choose between the whirlwind drama of a flighty romance and peaceful solitude, I’ll choose the later every time.

I wonder if this is a masculine trait in some respects.  Is this why some men have garages to work alone in or a “man cave” they can otherwise call their own, free of any womanly influence and interference?  We’re not hard wired to deal with drama, while women seem to thrive on it, to the point of inventing it where none exists if necessary.  I see this so often that I wonder if it’s even possible to meet a girl who values the quiet as much as I do.  Whenever I think I’ve found someone who isn’t like that, it doesn’t take long before the potential relationship turns into an emotional freak circus, and I’m once again running for the hills.

I don’t get why so many guys opt for the drama instead of the solitude, but then again I’ve always been something of an anomaly.  I’ll never forget one night when I was at sports camp for high school and we were staying in this freezing cold cabin with more holes than a basketball net.  It was night and some of the seniors were out hazing the freshmen by tying them to their beds while they were sleeping.  I was a freshman as well, but I wasn’t worried, and planned to take a walk in the dark by myself later that night so I could watch the stars.  My roomie though was TERRIFIED and BEGGED me to stay.  He didn’t want to be alone and was afraid the seniors would get him.  He was one of the “cool” kids too, and at the time I couldn’t understand why he was so scared.  In the end I stayed, but I was annoyed that I had lost “me” time just so I could keep my roomie from wetting his bed.  The seniors got him anyway, but because I was there he was able to laugh it off.  I understood then, if only dimly, how some people’s need for human company and fear of solitude was so profound that they would even marry badly just to avoid being alone.

I do crave and value human company though, or more specifically female company, but as soon as it goes sideways I tend to exit stage left in a hurry.  I really have no patience for games, psychological warfare or drama, but this seems to be all women ever bring to the table.  Take away the sex appeal, and what’s left?

Spending Valentine’s Day alone used to bother me, but not so much anymore.  Life has always presented me with two choices: be alone, or be in a turbulent, one-sided relationship with endless drama, aggravation, and loss of income.  The later ironically enough is what would truly make one feel lonely, and yet that’s the option most people choose.  It’s a shame so many can’t learn to appreciate the benefits and serenity that comes from being alone, even for short periods of time.

As for me, maybe someday life will prove me wrong and I’ll meet someone I’m meant to be with who won’t drive me nuts, but I’ve come to enjoy the solitude, and crave it even more in the midst of a world that has lost all sense of decorum, sanity and civility.

My next bachelor pad (MacBook not shown)

My next bachelor pad (MacBook and other Apple toys not shown)

Marriage: The bell you can’t unring

I stumbled across a series of videos called Divorce Corps that highlights some of the abuses of the divorce/family court system in America.  Here’s one of them:

One of the reasons I’m so nitpicky about dating and marriage is that if things go wrong, I leave myself wide open for litigation that could literally drain my finances till they ship me off to the nursing home (or the looney bin, whichever comes first).  I simply have no defense for it (unless I was possibly rolling in tons of money and had a private jet that could take me to a country with a no-extradition treaty).  It also underscores the dangers of dating single moms, where men not only expose themselves to the risks of lifetime alimony, but also to paying decades of child support for children that are not theirs.

I’m still amazed at how I continue to be accused of being selfish for my reluctance to put my head on the chopping block at the behest of women who enjoy the benefits of a legal system that favor them at least 7 times out of 10.  I don’t believe I’m being selfish here, but I do believe I have a very healthy sense of self-preservation.

The reality of modern marriage has forced a cultural expansion of men who have become noncommittal, not because they’re ALL unwilling to be faithful and settle down, but because the risks have now absurdly outweighed the benefits.  One has to use razor-sharp intuition and top-notch vetting to avoid those women who at first might seem sweet as sugar and harmless as doves, only to morph into demonic hellspawn that will rain down nuclear fire on men for the most trivial or nonsensical of reasons.  (Our marriage just isn’t exciting anymore!)

As I contemplate the merits of marriage I wonder if I’ll ever be able to completely trust whoever I’m with.  Is it really possible to experience true love in a world where a loaded gun is perpetually pointed at my head?

That reality has helped me understand why we’re seeing an ever growing demographic of bachelors and players/pickup artists.  Short-term flings are not merely a quick way to experience sexual gratification and an artificial sense of romantic love without actual commitment, it’s also the safest way.  They simply have too much to lose otherwise.  Actions do indeed have consequences, and the actions of a feminist crazed society has wrought a lopsided divorce system that has all but ensured men who value commitment will become an endangered and perhaps even extinct species.

It’s tragic that most women will do nothing to change this, and even fail to connect the dots.  Compounding things even more is their notoriously fickle nature, by making their emotions the sole and authoritative arbiter of all that is right or wrong.  They FEEL, therefore it IS.  If they FEEL love, then it IS love, but if they FEEL unhappy, then that is also so.  Those who live this way will only stay in a marriage for as long as they FEEL happiness and love.  If they no longer do, they will not hesitate burn it down and salt the remains, then move on to their next emotional high.  Marriage for them is not a commitment for life, but an emotion.  How could we ever truly trust people who behave this way?

Too many women (and men to a lesser degree) let their emotions dictate their actions, yet the mark of wisdom is to recognize this pitfall and learn how our actions can dictate our emotions instead.  This is why it makes me so uneasy to see women who no longer “feel” a certain way about a man just… give up.  They don’t focus on the actionable nature of love and trust in its power to restore the feelings they so crave.   In short, they lack both patience and faith.

As a Christian, I have to accept that the true measure of love (and the romance that springs from it) will only be found to be genuine when it endures a fiery testing.  Romance is wonderful and something I crave beyond measure, but it masks the harsh realities of how much work it takes to build a successful relationship, work that takes both time and sacrifice, something very few people are willing to give.

And perhaps not without good reason.  We all have our fallen traits, our besetting sins, but who can know what’s in a person’s heart?  I may improperly judge a woman to be wicked, wayward, backslidden, not realizing that God is working in her a heart to please Him and that she would be one of the rare few who would take her marriage vows seriously and work to overcome all obstacles.  And yet I won’t persevere in pursuing her because I can only go by what I see.  We do indeed judge according to the appearance, but unless we are given a revelation about what is truly in a person’s heart, it’s often all we have to go on.  It is why we constantly choose our spouses poorly all while rejecting those whose hearts have been refined as gold tried in the fire.  The world will discard this as utter nonsense, but those who profess the name of Christ have access to the throne of grace, where we serve a Creator who is able to give wisdom abundantly to all who ask of Him and is certainly able to reveal to us the nature of a person’s heart (if we’re willing to listen).

Could I ever personally find my happy ending then?  All I know for sure is that I simply could not survive in this world without the hope and trust that God will direct me accordingly.  If I don’t have Him, I have nothing: no faith, no hope left that I’ll ever meet a girl who is meant for me, and I would succumb to the life of a perpetual and secular short term dater who will never make that leap to secure the woman of his dreams.  For in his world, there are no happy endings.

Is my dream girl real?

This is an old post about a dream I had that I published and rewritten a few times over the years, and while I no longer believe it means anything, I still remember it because it was one of the rare (if not only) times when I was aware that I was dreaming (like Inception). And who knows, maybe someday life may surprise me here and the dream will come true.

So in this dream I met the girl who would become my wife. I was sitting in a Subway (or some kind of sandwich joint) when all of a sudden she just appeared, sitting across from me and holding my hand. I couldn’t see her face too clearly, but she was thin, had long blonde hair, and a beautiful smile. Because I was conscious of my dream state, I held on to her hand tightly and told her I didn’t want to go, because I knew when I woke up she would be gone.

Her smile was warm and comforting, and as she interlocked her hand into mine, she promised me that I would see her soon. And then she was gone.

Usually I dismiss most of my dreams as being sheer nonsense (including the dreams where I’m Spider-man), but because this one was so especially vivid the memory of it stuck around, even years later. I have to wonder… was she real? Did the girl of my dreams really have blonde hair and a gorgeous smile? Will I meet her in a Subway-like restaurant some day?

I do know one thing: whenever I see a sandwich joint like a Subway (or better yet, Jimmy John’s), I take a peak inside, just in case. And then order some roast beef to go.

Lessons about true love from Stardust

A while back I saw the movie Stardust. Fantasy is not usually my cup of tea, but I had to admit this was a pretty good film. Here we had a guy who was doing his darndest best to win over the love of a beautiful (and shallow) town girl, but unfortunately, she sees him as nothing more than a lowly and clumsy shop boy. One night both of them witness a shooting star landing somewhere in the magical land of Stormhold, and desperate to prove his love for her, Tristan promises to retrieve the star and bring it to her as a birthday gift.

The star however actually turns out to be another beautiful woman named Yvaine. Apparently, learning that the star was actually a person didn’t seem to faze Tristan one bit, and he uses enchanted rope to tie Yvaine’s hands so he can take her with him:

Tristan: Now, if I’m not mistaken this means you have to come with me. You’re going to be a birthday gift for Victoria, my true love.

Yvaine: But of course! Nothing says “romance” like a kidnapped injured woman!

At this point Hollywood starts to do something weird here, like actually tell the truth about love. Yvaine points out the fallacy of pursuing after a girl who clearly would never reciprocate the same level of love and devotion Blaine had for her:

Yvaine: The little I know about love is that it’s unconditional. It’s not something you can buy.

Tristan: Hang on! This wasn’t about me trying to buy her love. This was to prove to her how I felt.

Yvaine: Ah… And what’s she doing to prove how she feels about you?

Tristan: Well… [stares blankly for a moment]

Yes, we men have a tendency to skip over that minor, niggling detail don’t we?  I suppose our rationale here is that by jumping through hoops of nuclear fire to prove our love for someone, it will somehow evoke the object of our desire to equally love us in return.

Does this really work? I guess, probably as frequently as people win the lottery though. Regardless, I don’t think being a dancing monkey to get someone’s attention is really the best way to start a relationship. If the attraction doesn’t spark easily, that’s a lot of energy wasted on someone who’s probably not even a good match to begin with.

But sometimes, it just happens, and you don’t really have to do anything to MAKE it happen, just merely LET it happen, as it (predictably) did between Yvaine and Tristan:

Yvaine: Yes, I know that love is unconditional. But I also know that it can be unpredictable, unexpected, uncontrollable, unbearable and strangely easy to mistake for loathing, and… What I’m trying to say, Tristan is… I think I love you. [begins to cry] Is this love, Tristan? I never imagined I’d know it for myself. My heart… It feels like my chest can barely contain it. Like it’s trying to escape because it doesn’t belong to me any more. It belongs to you. And if you wanted it, I’d wish for nothing in exchange – no gifts, no goods, no demonstrations of devotion. Nothing but knowing you loved me too. Just your heart, in exchange for mine.

I know there are plenty of things I can do to boost my appeal to women, but ultimately, that ever elusive moment where I finally experience mutual attraction seems to be largely out of my control. Either I’m attracted to her but she isn’t to me, or she is to me but I’m not to her. And so it goes.

I hate that I can’t seem to conjure up attraction in return when a woman genuinely likes me. I try to force it, try to give it a chance, try to do something to stoke the fire, but the magic never materializes. I don’t know why, or why it indeed seems to be so unpredictable and random. I do know that too many people give up and marry someone they’re not attracted to, and the results are almost always disastrous. Having chemistry is vital it seems, and yet there appears to be no way for me to nail down the mystery behind it, at least so I’d have better luck finding someone compatible.

Or maybe, I should take a cue from Stardust, and instead of trying to MAKE things happen, I should merely LET things happen. It’s frustrating to be sure, but as I grow older I learn frustration stems from not being able to let go of the things we ultimately can’t control.

Is it wrong to reject someone because they’ve had it easy their whole lives?

Railroad Change in TracksI’ve been going over this in my mind because it was a decision I made not too long ago, and while on the surface it might seem petty, I do believe it’s possible that people’s lives can be so vastly different, that the lack of camaraderie and understanding arising from those differences can ultimately doom the relationship.

In my case, I’ve endured a really long laundry list of hardships, difficulties and physical disabilities that very few people can relate to, and those experiences shaped my personality and perspective of the world in a very profound way.

It’s like going into combat.  For those who have never seen combat, mentally you know that it’s full of hardships and can be a terrifying ordeal, but unless you’ve SEEN it up close and personal, you can never really truly understand what combat veterans have had to endure.  It’s the same for drug addiction too, unless you’ve been a drug addict yourself, you have NO idea what it’s like to fight an addiction.  This doesn’t mean people who haven’t experienced these things for themselves can’t sympathize, it just means that their understanding is merely theoretical in nature.

So I meet a girl, and she’s a nice girl.  Grew with a large family, eventually graduated college, got a nice job, bought a house, joined a church.  She’s active in the community and volunteers all the time.  She has a wide circle of friends and family, an active social life, and lives a very healthy lifestyle.  She also enjoys a nice inheritance and owns a large plot of land.

In short, someone who’s had it easy their whole lives.  Their perception of suffering is entirely different from say, one who loses his home and spends a few years of his life as a virtual vagabond.  One who has no inheritance to draw from because it was stolen from him.  One whose nearly entire family disowned and abandoned him when he was a child.  One who has to fight physical disabilities and prejudice that impacts nearly every area of his life.  One who had to claw his way out of debt with no financial help from anyone.  One who had no church or a social network of friends to rely on for encouragement and support.

And try as I might to explain my past to her, she didn’t get it.  She couldn’t get it, because she never lived it.  It wasn’t her fault either, and I would never begrudge anyone whose life has clearly been blessed and privileged.  But that fundamental lack of understanding arising from our hugely different journeys through life was why I ended it.

Does this mean the only girl right for me needs to have lived exactly as I did?  No, but I think it’s important that we share some similarities in that vein.  Camaraderie and shared experiences are powerful factors that can deepen a couple’s bond with each other.  Younger couples have a better chance of developing this bond because they start their lives together, so any hardships they face, they face together.

I just wish my life hadn’t been so unusual that I can’t seem to find ANYONE who could even remotely relate (except for one person, who unsurprisingly has been my best friend for nearly 10 years, though I suspect in part it’s because he’s a glutton for punishment).  I didn’t think my experiences were THAT uncommon but apparently it is.  It’s telling when I have to bury my past and make like I’m any old average Joe, just so I can avoid that deer in the headlights look when I start to tell her my REAL life story.  It’s reaching the point that I just have to resign myself to the reality that the only way I can connect with people is to hide the past 30-odd years of my life in obscurity and mystery.  Just the same old boring American success story y’all, nothing to see here folks, move along now.

Ah well.  It is what it is.

Keeping a Christmas tradition alive, one last time

It's a Wonderful life Screenshot of FamilyIn spite of how awesome I am, I have never seen the Christmas classic, It’s a Wonderful Life.  I don’t know how I managed that feat, but over the past few years it got to be kind of a tradition, where I vowed I would not watch the movie until I finally met the girl of my dreams.

I’ve experienced and seen a lot of amazing things over the course of my life, experiences that all had one thing in common: I had no one to share those precious moments with.  Whether it was watching a great movie, or standing at the edge of the Grand Canyons, they all came and went without… her.  Moments that are now gone forever.

But It’s A Wonderful Life is one of those few moments left that I can still share with her for the first time.  Once that’s gone, it would really feel like I’ve given up for good.  I was actually planning to watch it this Christmas but my heart’s just not into it.  That leaves me one more year to see a dream fulfilled.

One last time.

Can soulmates make the wrong choice?

Been having a discussion with one of my blog commenters that had me thinking about soulmates.  I don’t believe in the idea that there is only ONE TRUE SOULMATE out there for every one of us, but as a Christian I do believe there are certain people that God means for us to be with.

There are several examples in Scripture showing us that God does indeed play a role at times in bringing man and woman together, beginning with Eve:  “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. – Mark 10:9″

From there, we see God either guiding others, such as Abraham’s chief servant to find a wife for Isaac (Genesis 24) and even instructing one of his prophets to marry a former adulteress (Hosea 3).  Proverbs also describes a prudent wife being from the LORD as well. (Proverbs 19:14)

In other examples we can see where God does the inverse, telling us who NOT to marry.  Whether it’s who to marry or who not, there’s enough biblical evidence to show that He doesn’t sit idly by while we blindly grope in the dark looking for THE ONE.

At the same time though, I also believe it’s possible to reject God’s providence and counsel, and just marry whoever you please.

Which leads me to the obvious question: does this mean whoever God had in mind for me might have already rejected me, or chose not to wait and is now married to someone else?

The funny thing is I was watching a Once Upon a Time episode (yes I know, but I can’t stop) where precisely that scenario took place: a fairy guided a woman to her soulmate, but she chose not to go through with the introduction and ran away instead.  Later on, the same fairy tells her how selfish her act was.  Perplexed, she asks the fairy how it could have been considered selfish.  “Because you didn’t just ruin your life,” the fairy says.  “You ruined his as well.”

Makes you wonder.  Although considering the omnipotent nature of our Creator, it’s also wholly possible that He would foresee this rejection and pair us with someone He knows WOULDN’T reject us.  Where His providence begins and our free will ultimately begins is always going to be something of a mystery.

One thing I do know for sure, it’s probably the hardest thing ever for those unmarried men and women to fully trust God to bring someone in their lives as they continue to get older while everyone around them pairs up, despite so much of it being a facade.  (That happy go lucky couple you just saw sucking face at Starbucks will more than likely divorce or call it splits down the road.)  I understand though why so many just throw up their hands and marry the first person they find that pays any attention to them.  But I’ve seen how the often disastrous consequence of doing that can seriously ruin people’s lives, and sometimes not just their lives, but the lives of those who had nothing to do with the relationship.  I don’t want to be one of those people, so I’m holding out for as long as I can.

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