With respect to Socrates, my unexamined life is not worth living. The front room is the face we show everyone but we hide our true self in the back room.
As my good friend, Peter said, writing is like a power plant. Once it cools it takes effort to start it up again.
Oh, who am I kidding? I don’t have any friends. I have people for whom I care and care about me but I do not have go out to the movies, bar, library, park, gymnasium, cat parlor friends. I have been a solitary person looking for one other friend for most of my life.
I have found that person, or rather that person found me, and is now my wife.
But she’s it.
I don’t have friends. And it’s funny but my father is the same way. We did not ever gather up friends from our past or keep up with school chums when we became adults. We put all our eggs into our respective wives.
A 25 year difference and I am fortunate to see the future. My future. My parents have been each other’s best friend for almost fifty years. It would be amazing if my bride and I could make it that far but we’d both have to beat the genetic odds to get near to 90 years old.
I think about the future. I think about the future in my daily actions. Am I trying to be a better person and make each day count? Am I passing on good will to others? Am I experiencing life the way I wish? Am I providing the support and strengthening the partnership with my bride?
That last question gives me pause. I am still learning every day how to answer that question. I often stumble mistaking control for support. Wanting to make her happy rather than supporting her, being present with her as she makes herself happy. And the control is not always coming from the most generous place. Oftentimes, what is verbalized as support for her is actually a smokescreen for my selfish need to control.
If she is upset, I want to fix it. Not always so she will feel better but so the image of our perfect relationship can remain intact. When we were dating, I pleased her all the time. We didn’t have a single argument until a year into our relationship. As even as I write the words “it was a minor argument”, that is yet another way of how I try to control things, speaking for her, in testament to the strength of our love, rather than exploring with her if she feels it was in fact “a minor argument”.
Earlier this week, I realized how much of my father’s footsteps are my own. Though my mother became a nurse, my father worked while she raised four children. And in fascinating fashion, my three sisters all chose the same path, marrying men who would work while they raised their children. My sisters are starting to work as the children grow older but their husbands will always be the financial provider.
As for me and my bride, my desire to support her as she goes back to school runs smack into my desire to control her, to take care of her, and allow her complete freedom to follow her dream without worrying about money.
Yes. I did just read that sentence over again, uneasily acknowledging the cognitive dissonance. It takes a special kind of arrogance to believe you can emancipate someone through control.
Your adoring husband, well-trenched in his career, hears you talk about your own ambition and desire to do something you love and only wants to help. He tells you to quit a dead-end job and pursue your schooling full-time, maybe some volunteer work in the field of your choosing.
The problem is that good intentions are usually impractical. My bride told me she doesn’t want me to take care of her. She wants to take care of herself. She has had a lifetime of people telling her what to do and controlling her life. She wants to be independent and free, with a job she loves and making her own money. She wants to contribute equally to the relationship emotionally and financially.
I’m learning. I’m learning that support works best when it is cooperative. Rather than try to make my bride happy based upon what I think she wants I am learning to ask her what she wants and how I can support her. Support doesn’t require a hierarchy or an element of surprise to be effective.
Every day I awake thankful for another day. Thankful for the chance to do it better. Thankful for a woman who is helping me be a better person. Thankful for her support.