dputiger commented to me the other night, regarding this post, that I’ve been very lucky. And I think in one sense he’s right. The chances that I’d find who I was looking for, that she would be attracted to me in return, and that she would turn out to be the treasure that avivahg is, are probably pretty slim.
On the other hand, I’m not sure luck has played a big part in the success of our marriage. We’ve been through periods in the 3 1/2 years we’ve been married that many, perhaps most couples would have gotten divorced over. I think the fact we are still together has more to do with a stubborn insistance on keeping to our commitments than with luck.
The most telling comment that he made was that for every successful marriage, there are several where one or both partners wake up one day to realize they made a terrible mistake. I think this reflects a difference in attitude between us and other couples. See, here’s the thing: I’ve been there. I have had those moments of realizing I made a terrible, rash, foolish mistake that I never should have made. But I didn’t stop there and give up. I made a commitment, and that means sticking with it even when it seems like an awful life-ruining mistake. And guess what? Things got better. And then they got worse again, and then they got even better, and so on, and I came to realize that having those moments of regret is probably a normal part of marriage. The question is, what do you do when you have them?
A lot of people these days seem to think “commitment” means popping the question and then walking down the aisle six months later without chickening out. Commitment to me is about honoring my word no matter how stupid it may seem in retrospect. It means being determined to make something work, because failure is not an option.
Another reason I think our happiness isn’t a result of chance is that by the time I got married, I had long rejected the myth of compatibility. I had realized that there is no such thing as “the one”, or even if there is, thinking of it in terms of finding “the one” is counterproductive. Many of your potential partners will seem like your perfect match at first, and all of them will seem like a terrible mismatch at some point if you stick with them long enough. Modern dating culture has become obsessed with the idea of shopping around for “the one”, to the point that relationships fall apart as soon as a couple comes across their first serious incompatibility. I think this, more than anything, contributes to how “unlucky” modern marriages seem to be – the idea that if you run into conflict, you must have picked the wrong person.
In the final analysis, I think I’ve been unbelievably lucky to have gotten avivahg, both as I met her and even more as she is now that we both have changed and evolved over the past few years. It’s difficult now to imagine anyone else bringing me the fulfillment that she does. But at the same time, we could have easily been just another “mistake”, terminated six months or a year after conception. And luck had nothing to do with the fact that we didn’t go that route.
indeed, you are lucky..
she’s been my friend & hasn’t given up, too
may blessings & peace fall upon both of you
Relationships are so hard to put into a box. I fell in love with Scott almost immediately when I met him. I wasn’t looking for him, in fact, I had decided I didn’t want a serious relationship. I’d dated a million guys and never really liked any of them much. Was it luck that I met him? Destiny? Fate? God? Who knows. I’m sure you’d get different opinions from different people.
Staying together hasn’t always been easy…. some of it is just a committment to make it through the hard times. Yet some of it has to do with truly not wanting to be apart, even when we aren’t happy with each other because we know that even when we exasperate each other, that deep down we fufill each other.
I think it’s extremely important to pick the right person, yet I also think it’s extremely important to evaluate what kind of committment you are actually willing to make and sticking to it. And even yet…. I think there is something to be said for being content with this short life we have, and if you and your significant other are truly ruining each others lives, I’m not sure if staying with them is for the best. A lot of judgement calls to be made and it’s hard to tell what effects the situations we find ourselves in. If it falls apart were we simply unlucky, did we choose wrong to begin with or did we simply lack the committment needed to make it through? If it works, were we lucky? Did we just do a great job choosing a mate? Or did we work hard to make a difficult relationship work?
I’d like to think that we truly have soul mates that are calling to each other and attracting each other through time and space and that if we search for them and continue to call them, we will find each other. And once we’ve found each other, our contentment will be so deep that even during the hard times, we will know that we can make it because we were meant to be together and truly fufill each other.
But I’ve been told that I was drawn to the word “quixotic” for a reason… *grin*
As a lesbian and a definite feminazi to anti-gay people, I must also recognize that we have brought some of the onus on ourselves by not standing up in public for the kind of commitment to relationships that you have expressed so movingly, here and elsewhere in your journal. Not that gays are less committed–from what I have seen, it is about the same as for straight people, with bonus points for our having to work harder in the absence of cultural support but minus points for concomitant stress and bullshit. Most of the gay people I know work very hard at our relationships, and I try to be one of them. But I haven’t seen as many as I would like come out in public saying that we, and indeed everyone, are making a promise before God, and that promise means 24 hours a day and not just when one feels like it. In the best of relationships (not always the easiest) there are times when one doesn’t feel like it. In the ones that work, and the ones that end up being the best, there are times it seems impossible. Of course, I had a couple like that that ended up ending, which could mean they were impossible or just that I am a fallen creature and didn’t make the cut for what God wanted.
The message of Christianity is that existence is not easy or painless: it’s the cross. But the promise of Jesus Christ is that we are the same as God; God has been through our worst suffering; God is waiting at the end. And it is for this reason, perhaps, that it was Jesus Christ who said, “what God has joined let no man put asunder.”
So anyway, my prayers with you and avivahg and your walk together with God.
You’re right – luck has nothing to do with it. I’m married to someone I’m totally incompatible with, from a common interests point of view. And yet, we’ve managed to have a stable 10-year relationship. Key to this is accepting the other person at face value with few expectations and of course, commitment. Commitment is a conscious choice, not a mutable feeling.
So what do you think people should look for in a marriage partner if not compatibility, or do you just disagree with the overuse or definition of the term?
There’s nothing wrong with looking for compatibility, although I think dating isn’t a particularly effective way of detecting it. I’m not sure most people even know what they mean when they say they are looking for compatibility though. How many actually write down a list of qualities they are looking for – and stick to it? Not many, I’d wager.
The problem is, most of the incompatibilities you’ll discover while dating are pretty superficial. The real incompatibilities don’t turn up until you’ve lived with a person for at least a few months. The most important qualities are on a meta-level – how you deal with conflicts. If you get into a fight with someone and resolve it by arguing until someone caves, or by sweeping it under the rug, the outlook is poor for when the real incompatibilities rear their heads. Conversely, if you find you can communicate, compromise, and resolve a conflict with them it’s a good sign for the future.
Other things to look for include general maturity, trustworthiness, readiness for commitment, and contentedness. Especially that last one. If they are desperate to get hitched, then Warning! Danger, Will Robinson! You want someone who is okay with themselves, but would like share their life with someone else.
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