While he was in the midst of folding towels tonight I remembered the first time John had attempted to help me with laundry. He had offered and I had agreed – reluctantly. And then, in my true defensive and self-protective fashion, I snapped something at him like, “you’re not folding them tight enough. Just let me do it.”
And then tonight there he was, months and many tests later, folding a massive pile of laundry – perfectly. That’s when I realized he’s been folding it perfectly all along. Okay, well maybe not perfectly, but close enough.
“I was so mean to you when we first started dating,” I told him.
And in true John Bear fashion he answered without defense, “No, you weren’t. You were just scared.”
“I was testing you. So many tests.”
“But you had to, because you wanted to make sure I wasn’t like him.”
By “him” he meant my ex-husband. My ex-husband who was less than helpful in all aspects of my life, not just with the laundry pile.
“And besides, I needed a good kick in the butt to snap me out of my bachelor lifestyle.”
“I know. But still…”
“Listen, Babe. It’s fine. We’re here now and everything worked out.”
He was right. It has worked out but, how? How did we survive all of that stuff at the beginning, all of those growing pains?
We both had to change, to compromise, to accept each other and all of our baggage and to learn that things like loose towels and a defensive reflex are not deal breakers but traits, things that can be improved with practice and in time. And having issues up front, hammering all of this away before moving in together, getting engaged, even allowing him to discipline Benjamin, in my eyes, doesn’t make our story any less romantic – it makes it practical and less risky.
We’re all single moms. We know the consequences of ignoring the obvious, of not working through relationship issues, of being with the wrong men for the wrong reasons.
Perhaps, that’s why I’ve become so engrossed in Lori Gottlieb’s Marry Him: The Case for Setting for Mr. Good Enough. I bought the book at a time when John and I’s relationship had reached a turning point. We were either going to work through some issues or… well, the “or” would not have been pretty.
The ultra condensed version of Marry Him is this: if you have a laundry list of traits you’re looking for in a man (like “perfect laundry folder”), there’s a good chance you’re eliminating just about every guy out there. You may just be too picky. And who can blame you? We’ve all had the Prince Charming Complex cast upon us since birth.
A classic example is this, women often say they want a man who is spontaneous and romantic but who also has a stable career and income. Or they want someone who is over 6′ tall but he can’t be balding or have any excess body hair – and don’t forget about his shoes – he has to have nice shoes.
There are so many reasons we can find to cast men aside. We have so many choices and also the ability to survive just fine without a man around. But, is there a consequence? Are we throwing away perfectly good men for reasons that, when you think about it, are really quite ridiculous?
Gottlieb isn’t asking you to settle for someone. She is just asking you to take an honest look at yourself and how you date. If the controversial title ruffles your feathers, ignore it. Seriously. You and every other woman on the planet – married, single, young, old – needs to read Marry Him.
Leave a comment and you’ll be entered to win a copy. Deadline to comment is Friday the 28th at Midnight (EST).
And… by the way, I didn’t always feel this way about Gottlieb’s theory.