Did You Marry The Wrong Man?


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The garage door rolled up with a faint buzz that signaled to everyone inside that Sam was home. The Volvo wagon rolled to a stop in front of the second fridge and Sam climbed out and hefted a bag full of documents inside.

Chelsea sat in her usual seat with her back to the door, facing the television. Chris sat at the head of the table, face in a laptop, dinner done, just waiting for his daughter to finally give it up and eat her vegetables. Sam avoided a barrage of requests for intervention on both sides by heading upstairs to prepare a bit more work for the evening.

William yelled from upstairs, “Can someone help me with algebra?”

Chris headed up, peeking into the master on the way, “Can you keep an eye on Chelsea? She still hasn’t touched her peas and corn.” Not a single question about the workday. Not a single thought to what they might do later. Never a plan for a sitter and time alone on the weekend.

If Chris made more money, they could have taken a vacation together just the two of them. But writing hadn’t panned out yet. Sam had asked Chris to give it up a dozen times and get a real job but nothing ever changed.

Chris could have come in for a hug but that never ended well. Best to attend to William’s homework.

When the door closed upstairs, Sam came down and microwaved a pork chop, corn and peas.

“Do I really have to eat this stuff? It makes me sick,” Chelsea said.

Sam walked over, took Chelsea’s plate and scraped the vegetables into the garbage like she did every night. If Chris knew it’d spark a huge fight. Vegetables were important for the kids, but not important enough to fight with them every day.

A few hours later Sam tucked into bed with a novel in the master bedroom while Chris went back to work in the guest room he’d converted into an office.

Several people had told Sam that sleeping apart from her husband had them headed for trouble. But he snored and always worked late. He wanted sex whenever they were in the same bed and he just wasn’t giving her what she needed. He should earn more. He should care more about her and what was going on in her life. All he ever did was take care of the kids and the house and write those damned novels.

Chris worked late into the night and crawled into bed only when he couldn’t stay awake anymore. Still he felt the sting of rejection every night he slept alone, but at least at a distance it was bearable.

Psychology Today had a great article by Rebecca Webber that suggests a successful marriage is less about finding the right mate and more about becoming the right mate. The couple in the scene above illustrates two key points Ms. Webber makes in her article.

First, that we tend to idealize relationships and expect our partner can and should make us happy. When the one we marry fails to make us happy, we blame our unhappiness on them. Ms. Webber suggests that when we get to the point of disillusionment, we have found our chance to grow and become a better spouse but for most of us it is hard to see the role we play in strained relationships.

The second key point in the article is that couples that “turn toward” each other will work through differences and grow together where couples that “turn away” from each other as Chris and Sam do, are headed for disaster.

While thinking about this article today I considered the romantic relationships in Addicted To Love and how men and women tally the good and bad. According to Ms. Webber, women measure their spouses on various criteria including communication, income, romance and any number of other things important to them. They talk to their friends (and commiserate) about how their spouses fall short. Men it seems only do this in one area: sex.

Not surprising that women more often find themselves dissatisfied with their marriage and initiate divorce twice as often as their husbands do.

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8 Comments on “Did You Marry The Wrong Man?”

  1. Marcia says:

    Communication is key in a relationship. If you start sweeping bad feelings under the rug, they take on a life of their own and cause resentment. Resentment will kill any relationship. In situations like this one with Chris and Sam, it takes patience and cooperation in working together to fix the problems. Good fodder for writing. Thanks, CJ!

    • cjwestkills says:

      Thanks Marcia.

      One of the other things this article said was that it is key to be able to make your self vulnerable. To talk about your true needs and feelings. That is difficult work, but it is the key to getting what you really desire from a relationship and finding lasting happiness.

  2. Tammy says:

    I’ve been married twice and I can say without hesitation….no, I did not marry the wrong man. I experienced happiness in both cases and even though the first marriage ended in divorce, I have two wonderful children from that marriage and I am who I am today because I lived and grew through it.

    I agree with Ms. Webber. It takes two people to sustain a relationship. If you are unhappy, then YOU need to do something about it.

    “He wanted sex whenever they were in the same bed and he just wasn’t giving her what she needed. He should earn more. He should care more about her and what was going on in her life. All he ever did was take care of the kids and the house and write those damned novels.” – I read this and think to myself – perhaps if she put in a little effort herself, showed that she was interested in what he was doing, touched him in a way that made him feel like she cared, showed ANY appreciated for taking care of the house and the kids……well, maybe she would receive from him everything that SHE was wanting. Making someone feel wanted and appreciated, is that such a terrible thing? Won’t you get it back ten fold??

    Just my thoughts……you get what you give.

    • cjwestkills says:

      Exactly right Tammy.

      Everyone needs to take responsibility for their role in a relationship. To be able to communicate what they want and need and to invest themselves in understanding what is important to their partner. You can give all you want, but if you are not giving what is meaningful to your partner, it just doesn’t work.

  3. Terri says:

    The first one was a huge nightmare. I married too young (18 years old) and he turned violent once we were married. Marriage didn’t last six months.

    This one is a dream come true! To be honest I had no intentions of ever marrying again but he was determined to change my mind. Everyone thought I was marrying a florist because he brought me flowers every single day for 3 years! They were floored when they found out he is an engineer. He always goes out of his way to do romantic things for me even after almost 20 years of marriage. And yes, I still get fresh flowers every day.

  4. T. L. Cooper says:

    I’m always a little put off by phrases like “becoming the best mate” because we are who we are at our cores. If that doesn’t work with another person, we can’t become someone else to make it work. Yes, there should be compromises, give and take, and behaviorial changes to make sure each partner’s needs are met, but not at the expense of sacrificing one’s self.
    So often in our world though people go into marriages thinking they can “fix” the other person or that marriage will “change” the things they don’t like about someone. The truth is we can change everything we want, become someone completely different, and there are times when that’s never enough. And, then there’s the person at our core screaming to be let loose because we’ve changed to “become the best mate” and lost ourselves. I think there’s a delicate balance between meeting each other needs and giving up one’s self. It can become intoxicating to change to “become the best mate” and lead down a very painful road. Two people who are incompatible aren’t going to become truly compatible because they change to “become the best mate” because those kinds of changes can never be genuine nor can they survive the long haul. Perhaps, I’m nitpicking, but I just hate that phrase so much. I do realize that’s not exactly what the psychologist means, but making those changes can lead there very easily if one isn’t careful.
    And, let’s not forget too many marriages begin because two people have great sex together. It’s not until they are married that they come to understand great sex does not equal compatibility. It’s great sex, and when it’s gone, if there’s nothing left to build on, the entire foundation crumbles for both parties.
    I do agree that communication is key and pulling toward has a greater potential to resolve issues than pulling away, but sometimes people don’t open the lines of communication because then they actually have to face making a change one way or the other.
    There is no cure-all that can be applied to relationships in trouble. It varies as much as the individual couples and the individuals who are coupled do. We can never tell someone else we have the answers to fix “their” marriage. We don’t live in it. Only the two people in the marriage can figure out what works for them.
    Just my two cents worth… Oh, and if you’re wondering, I have been married to the same man for twenty years.

    • cjwestkills says:

      Wow TL

      I think when they talked about being the best mate they were actually talking about being a better person in general. Someone who is able to communicate and work through differences.

      I agree that we should find someone that we are really compatible with from the outset and that should lessen the inevitable conflicts.

      Congrats on your happy marriage. That’s an achievement today.


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