I was recently talking to an acquaintance who revealed to me that she and her significant other were getting divorced after 5 years of marriage. While I was a bit surprised, I didn’t really know the couple very well, but what struck me was that it wasn’t fueled by the usual things, infidelity, a new baby, financial issues, it was as she put it, because he isn’t the man I fell in love with, he doesn’t pick up his clothes off the bedroom floor, and we never go out anymore. He just wants to sit home and watch ESPN, and I don’t. I asked her the obvious, “Did you try talking to him?” She looked at me quizzically, “Well I have said I’m unhappy, I told him I wanted to do things.” Yes, but did you sit down and have a heart to heart and tell him specifically what you needed?” “He should know, what I need'”she responded angrily, maybe I thought, but the reality is, this poor sap probably had no fucking clue what he was doing to drive his wife away. SMH!! Another sad statistic.
Psychologist’s describe the seven–yearitch as a psychological term, that suggests that happiness in a relationship declines after around year seven of a marriage. The phrase originated as a name for irritating and contagious skin complaints of a long duration. Let that sink in! For those of you not familiar with this phenomenon, which was made famous by the 1955 movie starring the sexy Marilyn Monroe, who is the neighbor of Tom Ewell, a middle age man who is in the midst of a midlife crisis, and sends his family away for the summer so he can contemplate his marriage nd whether he should have an affair, lo and behold Marilyn Monroe is right next door being sexy, and is weakening his resolve to stay faithful. If you have not seen this movie, please do, she dons that iconic white dress over the subway grate, it’s a great movie. It is said that after the 7 year mark of living with your significant other, the fractures of a marriage start to show, psychologist attribute this sudden change in the ebb and flow of marriage, to several factors, most notably the birth of a child, in a once childless marriage, a job transfer, and the most obvious one infidelity of a spouse. I think the 7 year term is more of an umbrella term, as many marriages begin a decline in satisfaction by one or both partners, soon after the honeymoon phase is over, shortly after the first year.
I did a paper in college about women in my generation growing up on Disney fairy tales, buying into the myth that your Prince Charming will ride up on the white horse and scoop you into his arms and take you to the castle where you will live a life of being pampered, bearing copious amounts of children, and live happily ever after with birds chirping and rejoicing in this internal bliss! Yes that may happen, Prince Harry is still on the market, albeit probably not for much longer. But ladies you have a better chance of running into Big Foot, or of being on a really bad blind date with a man who resembles Big Foot, before that happens. In this paper, I revealed how I felt that the more myths that were perpetuated by Hollywood, think Pretty Woman, ladies admit it, Julia Roberts, made the idea of spreading our legs for a hot rich guy, with an endless cash flow, seem like a glamorous profession for escorts! The fact that it was Richard Geer all the better! Yes please, sign me up! But the reality of this shit is, that you will NOT get Richard Geer, you may end up with Ted Bundy, (notorious serial killer) or worse. So in my paper for which I received and A+, thank you Professor Funicello, I explored the psychology of what buying into the fairytale did to the institute of marriage, hence spawning the “let down” of monogamy and marriage. Yes, yours truly coined a phrase! I know you’re impressed aren’t you? Admit it!!
For many women in my generation, and those prior, who were raised with the idea that we will grow up, pursue a career, and find a man to settle down with, raise a family with, and women will surrender the pieces of themselves that defined her as a woman, and concede to the higher purpose of motherhood. While feminist in the 70’s fought so vehemently to show woman that they could have it all, the one important thing they failed to see, or perhaps failed to understand is that the psychology of this stems from the myth that many couples do not yet comprehend, just because you are in love today, doesn’t mean you will feel the same way tomorrow, and that you better be fucking willing to work at this from every possible angle, and that living together will prove a herculean task to even the most patient, well-adjusted, easy-going person. Eventually, the little loveable quirks he has of slurping soup, or leaving hair trimmings in the bathroom sink, will soon lose their quirkiness, and you will find yourself up at 3:00 a.m. thinking, if he does that one more time, I think I may have to smoother him in his sleep. Is there a Forensic File on that? I jest here, but you get the point. You had better make a decision that you enter into a marriage with the notion of going all in, that all will not be rosy, that most days are filled with disorganized chaos, to which will feel like a descent into a black abyss, with a mortgage, kids, a small business, and all of the other responsibilities that make up a life. But if there is truly love there, if you both know that just a smile, or a touch will be enough to sustain these dark days, you can learn to make peace with the quirks, maybe even find them somewhat tolerable. Somewhat, being the operative word!
I think the problems arise when, the expectations of what you wanted in a partner, a life, in yourself, fall short, and you realize that it is simply not enough to be in love, you have to cultivate and grow love on a daily. Forget what Tom did for his wife, the reality is that may look good on paper to the outside world, but you will never truly know what goes on behind closed doors. I look at it like this, you have to be willing to put aside that vision in your head of what you believe the perfect love looks like, and see what is before you. Maybe you want your man to write you love poems to prove his eternal, undying love and devotion , but the reality is he isn’t really a wordsmith, but he can get under the hood of you car and make it hum, or scoop you up on his Harley and drive you to a surprise dinner at your favorite restaurant. Or men, maybe your woman has gained some weight, and you are thinking that the new 20 something “chicklet” in your office with that hard body is going to make you feel fabulous if you nail her. More than likely it will be a fleeting thing that feels really good for a few minutes, a few days, a few years, but sooner or later, the reality is we all show are warts, we all show our crazy, and we will all probably gain some weight. When all of that fanfare fades away you need the substance! The good stuff that goes beyond the superficial, the way a loved one looks into your eyes and knows you’re hurting, the way a touch can make you believe that it will all be ok, the naughty banter that comes from spending 24 years cultivating a relationship, that has seen dark days, happy days, three beautiful children, loss of parents, loss of a child, the things that if you’re not careful, not mindful of, and lose your self to, can end an otherwise beautiful marriage.
I have seen a lot of marriages fall apart because couples entered into a marriage believing that their love would stand the test of time without ever knowing that the ebbs and flows of marriage, the ripples, the good times, the bad times, are there as an undercurrent, they are always there, what sustains a love, is the belief that the love you once saw in your lover’s eyes is still there for you, even if it doesn’t match the image of fairy tale of what you believed it should, it’s in the way your coffee is made for you in the morning, the way your dinner is lovingly prepared, the way he laughs with his boys, and the way he looks at his daughter with softness, reverence, and a love that makes your heart melt.
We are all fucked up, we are all broken, we are all just trying to do the very best we can in this moment. If you are willing to work on the only one person you truly only can work on, yourself, maybe you can see that true love starts with loving yourself, when you get this, it will all fall into place, and the love you have come to curse before you, will come into view as the Prince or Princess of your soul, your heart, and your world. Maybe in doing all of this, you will never have to worry about scratching that itch!