I got into a discussion about relationships with a friend recently, and although I’ve had the thought before and have limited how often I share this opinion, I do believe I know why approximately 50 percent of marriages end in divorce … so considering that statistic I figure I have even odds on getting this one right.
Boy meets girl and loses his mind and it begins, while girl meets boy and all of the dreams she has ever held inside suddenly become an episode of Bridezillas in its early production stages with a swath of damage, physical and emotional, cut through the relationships that are this boy and girl’s families and friends.
In all fairness, I should tell you I have been married twice and divorced twice. I’m a big enough man to own up to my fault in both disastrous relationships, which was I wanted to do what I wanted to do and they didn’t want me to.
I don’t take instruction or direction very well, and it is what it is because at least if you’re going to consider being in any way associated with that part of my life I am totally upfront about where I want to go and what I want to do, and as long as it doesn’t create an issue for you, I’m good.
Back to why it doesn’t work.
It’s the expectations the two individuals in question have in mind when they even begin to discuss the insanity of marriage (cohabitate first … please do us — and the court system — a favor). There’s no REAL discussion of what expectations are, just the usual sappy pleas of be honest, loyal and fair with no discussion of, DUH, let’s overstate the obvious.
No, here are the expectations as they go undiscussed and certainly less understood. And because I am an equal opportunity semantic abuser, let’s begin with the men.
A man meets a woman, is attracted, enjoys her company, tunes her out when necessary (always sure to insert the appropriate nod or grunt at the right time), and when he knows in his heart he wants to spend his life with her, the clock stops immediately.
It’s THAT woman at THAT moment he wants to marry and spend his life with. He never wants her to grow up or be responsible, wear sensible shoes, or gain weight. Yeah, that was ugly, but true.
A man wants to marry the woman she is at that moment … he loves THAT woman, not some evolutionary byproduct he’s gifted a piece at a time over the length of his life, or however long he can stand it, whichever comes first.
Women, on the other hand, well … they fall in love with the guy but not really. What she falls in love with is his potential. Don’t get me wrong, there has to be an attraction there, some sort of chemistry, but in the end she loves the man she sees him capable of becoming, not who he is at that moment.
Over time she is going to expect him to mature, have different priorities, and put away childish things eventually leading him to that place of adulthood where the pleasure he derives from life is based almost entirely on the union of two people and their progeny … let’s not go there though.
So why do so many relationships fail or last what seems an interminably long lifetime?
A man marries a woman for who she is at that moment while a woman marries a man for who she thinks he can be.
As for me, well, if you happen to be one of those who sees the potential me, I hate to disappoint because at this point in my life I have no idea who I’m going to be in the morning, much less in 20 years.