Did You Marry The Wrong Man?Posted: April 11, 2012
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.