Am I a better man?

July 5, 2012

Reading Aphron and his views on whether marriage is worth it or not made me think of this, along with a comment from one of my former blogger hotties, So Gone.

Is marriage worth it?  That is what is on my mind at the moment along with the companion question “Would I do anything differently or do it all over again?”

Those two things are what led me to my title question.  Because in the end, our experiences inform who we are and what we become.  And in order to fully appreciate that, you have to have some perspective on where the starting point was.

Before Arwyn, I was a moderate smoker, moderate drinker, a partier and generally did whatever the hell I wanted.  Yes, I was trying to live a half way decent and moral life.  Half way at least.  I went to church which is where I met my wife.  Fine, attractive Christian girl, she was.

So what did I get out of marriage?

Marriage reminds me a lot of basic training.  At least my marriage does, especially the part where we entered the gas chamber and had to take our masks off.  Yeah, 30 years ago when *I* was in Ft.Leonardwood we didn’t train with the gals but otherwise the drill is pretty much the same.  And we could NOT wait to get out of that place.  A year later, I was with ROTC and we had to do it again.  All us prior service guys made damn sure we were at the front of the line to get it over with.  Now that it occurs to me, I can’t tell you exactly how inhaling tear gas made me a better person but it DID make me a better soldier and made us scared to death of chemical warfare.

So Gone made the comment that divorced men make good material for marriage because they learned from their prior relationships.  And if they were in a bad one, it can make them more appreciative of a good one.  So I suppose one train of thought would say that this marriage is training me to appreciate any future ones that I might have.  When we are young, new and just starting out we stumble along and make big mistakes that we spend years paying for later.  There isn’t anything that can train a body for marriage like being married.  where better to make mistakes and learn from them?  I have freely admitted to Arwyn about the mistakes I made really early in our marriage where I took her for granted.  But she has never forgotten and I would argue that she has never forgiven.

What would I do differently?  If I were talking to a pre-marriage version of myself, I might advise him how dumb he was to let an earlier good one go just because of a few issues.  But there was no frame of reference.  I didn’t know.  Like the time I decided to buy a mobile home and thought it was such a good and intelligent and rational decision.  People DID try to tell me different but I didn’t listen.  So nothing means I would have chosen any differently.

However, if I was talking to my young married self, right after being getting married, I might have smacked him a bit and told me that I did not have years and years to wise up.  I better get on with with being married or get on with getting single.  The half-way crap was not going to serve.  Because by the time I finally came around, it was too late.  Arwyn had checked out.

Before I got married I had a lot of people tell me how precious she was and how I was going to be in big trouble if I ever hurt her.  To my knowledge no one said anything of the sort to her.  No one threatens a woman and says “Don’t you dare hurt this guy or we’re coming after you!”  I guess no one expects guys to get hurt.  We aren’t supposed to hurt.  And then they wonder why we fail to feel when we’re supposed to.

I would like to say that marriage has taught me some things about giving selflessly without expecting anything in return.  When that happens freely, it can feel pretty good.  But somewhere down the line when you feel forced into it, it doesn’t feel so good anymore.  You freely gave the first few times but now its expected all the time.  I suppose that’s how Arwyn felt about sex.  It was expected of her and that set in about 2 nights after we were married.  It wasn’t freely given and became a chore.  And the shit I had to do to get it became an even bigger chore.  I must’ve looked like a pretty pathetic and desperate fool to go to such extremes for a little piece of ass.

So I would say that was one important and maybe crucial lesson that has made me a better person than I was.  I’m not ruled so much by my dick.  I’m less of a dick head.  I’ve discovered a lot of other ways to spend my time and other priorities in life.  Sex is great when you can get it, but it is not worth most of the misery most guys put themselves through for it.  If you have to work that hard for it, it might be wise to just cut the losses and find something else to do. Put Rosie and her 5 sisters to work and it will all be better for awhile, if that is what it is about.

Intimacy.  I’ve learned that it is a rare thing and perhaps, maybe, I am ill suited for it.  I’ve had it and enjoyed it immensely when I did feel it, but it has beena very long time since I would describe anything I’ve had with anyone as real intimacy.  And I do okay.  Not great but okay.  Perhaps we put too much value on intimacy.

Suddenly I’m feeling like the writer of Ecclesiastes: “It’s all a crock of bullshit!”

Maybe I haven’t learned as much as I thought!  I can say that marriage is like basic training in that it is something I am glad I did.  I love my kids and am glad I have them.  But if I was going through life again, knowing what I do now I’m not sure I would do it again.  I would avoid Arwyn whenever I saw her coming and would look for someone else, leading to new struggles and a new path that would probably lead to suffering and drama of an entirely different sort.  I could end up with Aphron’s wife!  YIKES!

Fact is, when I look at the old blogging buddies and look at their wives, I can not think of any of them I would want to be with.  Even Craig’s wife who seems marvelous, cause I would be miserable even thinking about 11 kids!

I’ll have to remember to blog about my other two marriages.  The virtual ones.  I learned almost as much from them as I did from my real one.  And I know that no matter what…it is never easy.  ever.