Saturday, July 6, 2013

Anatomy of a Marriage

Linda's first husband was a great guy. He was an entertainer, an extrovert, benevolent and fearless in matters of self worth. He'd dance badly, karaoke badly, drink badly, play sports badly and drive badly and never let it bother him. He was great fun to be with Linda tells me, a new adventure a minute.

He was a guy who controlled everything he touched, including his wife. They combined their monies as most couples do, and he kept her from ruining their financial status by not allowing her access to the bank at all. She was told where to work and how many hours were needed. Her friendships were his decision to make, her free time was documented with suggested approved activities listed on the calendar that was hung in an obvious space.

He sometimes complained about her weight (she was never overweight), about her hair style, about her smile and about the amount of time she spent paying attention to his needs. He treated her as if she were insignificant intellectually, average physically and mediocre cosmetically and daily offered suggestions on how to improve.

He was sweet and cute and the two played games and rode bikes and went on long walks together. He became an aerobics instructor and booked her into his classes so she could "tighten up".

He kept his vows for a little over a year so far as Linda can tell, and she didn't catch wind of his dalliances for a few more years. Once she knew he was screwing off site, she tried everything to make it go away; at least everything that she could change on her own without access to cash and while under his schedule thumb. But as he would only apologize for his "mistake" and refuse to try to find the root cause, (it's not you honey it's me) she would forever come up short in his eyes and her self worth dove like a rocket on its return to earth.

For ten years she forgave his trespasses, never really aware that every move he made was manipulative, that every breath he took had a purpose. She'd promised the "death do us part" thing and it was her honor at stake if she was to break her vows. So she hung on always hoping it would change, always seeing his good side as if even that wasn't just an act. It was her mistake, she thought. It was her duty to make things work.

Everyone of their friends knew exactly who he was and no one said a word. Even her own family treated him like a star; they were attuned to his entertaining nature and liked being doted on when he was around. That their daughter/sister was being mistreated by the man was of no consequence, she was a loser anyway; It's not like he was beating her or anything.

For 10 years she had no life of her own, and then he left her finally; her freedom had returned. Within a year she was attached to another man who did the exact same thing; belittled, controlled and modified to suit his ends. This guy, in fact, wouldn't even introduce her as his girlfriend nor admit that they were a couple in any way beyond whatever event had led them to appear together in public... say a volleyball tourney for example.

When he left her for another woman (who shortly left him for another woman lol) Linda admittedly flipped out and bed every man who would dance with her, using her newfound control to get what it was she thought she really wanted. But that didn't last long, orgasm is lovely but hardly fulfilling by itself over time except to the most hardcore addicts.

When we first toyed with cohabitation, she kept watching me for signs of liar and master. For a long time she expected I would turn on her just as every other man in her life had. While I have a reservoir of faults I'm way too lazy to control anyone, I have enough trouble controlling myself. And while I do embellish here and there on things that have no import beyond entertainment, I am not a liar in the main.

I would never tell her how to run her life, what friends she might have, what she grows up to be. She once decided that landscaping would be her perfect trade, so I paid our collective freight while she attended school. We'd been together a year. After two years as a student she discovered the business was far more cynical than she'd imagined and she'd likely never work in the field after all.

It didn't affect me in the slightest beyond wanting to comfort her for her mistake. Shit happens. She had a great time at school which made my life fun and interesting, and my purpose in agreeing was to help her find happiness, who am I to say she'd wasted her time?

I would never plan her time to suit my own, it's neither my right nor my desire. While I'm happy to take the ball when she hands it to me, to not at least find out what she has in mind when we have time to spend together, is not only dismissing her imagination and taste, but becomes demeaning as it becomes routine.

She has my absolute blessing to do whatever she likes because....

I trust her implicitly. It's faith, I can't prove she'd never make contact. Besides, I'm a realist; if I didn't trust her what would change beyond my own attitude? Nothing.

I'm sure there are those who would argue that I don't really care and if I did I'd set down boundaries and rules and demands to show my "love", that "give 'em an inch, they'll take a mile-give 'em enough rope" blah blah. I'd only rudely answer, that's absolute bullshit. If you need a leash, you've got a pet not a partner. I don't do pets. I don't need a dependent, sex or no sex; marriage isn't state sponsored prostitution. Maybe I'll be sorry someday, it's not as if I haven't been taken advantage of in the past; but I'll take that chance because in my world, happiness is directly proportional to freedom.

Her realizing her dreams only makes mine more possible, her happiness only adds to mine, her experience only serves to entertain and enlighten me, her friendships with others both male and female, make our love all the more real, all the more important and all the more obvious.

We have one rule; no physical sexual groping and that includes fornication obviously. That's pretty much it, everything else is covered by common sense. I can't imagine living any other way. Linda can, she spent most of her adult life in a cage.

I don't often know what to say when I see someone being mistreated. I certainly don't want to make it any worse by inciting a mate to grip more tightly so as to close down the possibility of people "getting the wrong idea". Neither do I want to highlight their pain by making an issue of my perceptions. I know what it's like to try to make the best of a miserable situation, life is hard enough without being reminded of your misery.

But I have to admit, I so want to reach out and hold those who are suffering that sometimes I just have to stand back or risk making a total fool of myself, and God knows being a fool makes me break out in hives. Linda doesn't like it when I keep her awake scratching all night.

It's funny really, that a big mouth like me would lay off at any time much less when someone might need someone of my ilk the most. It's just more proof that I don't have all the answers, that I'm just as confused as anyone, that in spite of my best intentions I still fail my friends as often as not.

I believe I would have let Linda suffer her fool had I known about it, I wouldn't have known what to do beyond kicking her husband’s ass and while that might teach him a lesson in the short term, it might only make him a more violent asshole in the long.

All I could have offered was shelter from the storm, an ear, a voice of reason, a platonic love and all the time I could spare. But I know she wouldn't have taken me up on my offer anyway. She wasn't looking for the truth, she just wanted her pain to go away. God, how lonely a life that is.

Linda deserves everything she gets from me, including her right to fly away without my interference if ever she decides that's best for her. It's the least I can do, it's all love really is to me; the freedom to be everything you can imagine, protected from predators, encouraged to succeed, forgiven if you fail. Everything else is cosmetics.

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