i just finished reading elizabeth gilbert’s newest book…
and even more so after having a conversation with someone i haven’t really had contact with in several years who made some off-hand remark about knowing how much i wanted to be married…which may have been true the last time we truly had a conversation about relationships. i am sure it followed a break-up i had gone through, the place i was at, the devastation i felt, and the intense longing for another in my life. i am sure. but i thought it ironic that she assumed this was still the place i was in…
which couldn’t be further from the truth.
when i met fk, i was in a place of beginnings. new job, new apartment, new life…
i was excited about the possibilities…no expectations of meeting anyone, not really wanting to as the world was my oyster, so to speak. but i began spending time with this man anyway.
it wasn’t until we broke up a few months later that i began to see my part in our downfall. i realized i had too many expectations of him. too many in the sense of expecting too much. expecting him to meet all my needs. expecting him to be my everything…when he was just my boyfriend. seems like i have had similar expectations in previous relationships as well. seems like it had become a pattern.
so the second go-around six weeks later, i was in a different spot. somewhat jaded. even more cautious. care-free. more sure of myself. less sure of this thing called relationship. more skeptical, you could say. so this time, needless to say, i vowed not to make many of the same mistakes twice. i, then, began to realize when i was placing too many expectations on the one man…instead of looking to my friends to meet some of my emotional needs, some of my needs of companionship, some of my needs of socialization. and i was taken by surprise.
surprised that i so easily entered into this thing called relationship…again, so quickly.
surprised that several months later i would find myself thinking and talking openly about our lives together, our future, marriage…when i had just come from such a closed-off place, when i was scared to death of such commitment now, when this wasn’t quite the way i had planned things.
surprised that i was so willing to take a risk.
so it seems apropos that i would choose this book merely weeks before becoming committed myself. apropos that it’s subtitle “a skeptic makes peace with marriage” seems not so far from where i had come as of late. apropos that some of the same subjects gilbert addresses, i had just or was now facing…questioning, debating, mulling over in my own mind.
on the subject of expectations, gilbert writes,
but how does marriage become hard work? here’s how: marriage becomes hard work once you have poured the entirety of your life’s expectations into the hands of one mere person. keeping that going is hard work….that our very job description as spouses was to be each other’s everything….for the first time in my life, it occurred to me that perhaps i was asking too much of love. or, at least, perhaps i was asking too much of marriage. ~pages48-49.
and perhaps that is a simplification of what makes marriages hard work…but i think there is merit to the statements made. at least i find it to be true that when i look to fk to be my everything it tends to complicate things…and, in fact, makes things much harder.
on the subject of what she calls infatuation, but what i will call realistic expectations, she writes in his words [about her husband’s professional gemstone buying], followed by her own,
you have to ignore the perfect gemstones. don’t even look at them twice because they’re blinding. just put them away and have a careful look at the really bad stones. look at them for a long time, and then ask yourself honestly, ‘can i work with these? can i make something of this?’ otherwise, you’ve just spent a whole lot of money on one or two gorgeous aquamarines buried inside a big heap of worthless crap….
can you look at your partner’s faults honestly and say, ‘i can work around that. i can make something out of that?’ because the good stuff is always going to be there, and it’s always going to be pretty and sparkly, but the crap underneath can ruin you. ~pages 129-130.
and that’s what love is. that’s what marriage is.
it is living with the crap so you can live with the beauty.
it is taking the good with the bad.
it is accepting all of one person–the parts you love, and the parts you would rather not love.
and this is the undertaking i will begin in less than 4 days.
and i am…