Am I a better man?

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.


12 Responses to Am I a better man?

  1. So Gone says:

    You know how I feel about things. I think I started blogging when I was 22ish, and no matter what any of you guys told me, I just thought I wasn’t strong enough to leave that relationship, and instead continued to just cheat. That was basically my pattern until I found someone where I had literally no desire to cheat – which was weird for me. Having never been married before, but in several serious relationships, I had a frame of reference for what I knew WOULDN’T work – i.e., being with someone and cheating on them. It was just hard for me to picture a scenario where I wouldn’t want to cheat. I never thought I’d find it.

    My husband was about 19 when he met his ex-wife. She was older and they sort of progressed how she felt they should – engagement and then marriage… and ended up married, then separated, then divorced within 3 years. He wanted the commitment, understood the compromise, and knew how to make a marriage work – except that he couldn’t deny the nagging feeling she wasn’t the right one for him. She controlled everything (I was friends with both of them and always saw her as a mother-type figure vs a wife). Lesson I learned from watching them? All men wanted to be treated like a man, so I treat him like a man. He has a mom, I’m not it – and I think that’s a hard lesson for some women… to be a wife, not his mother and to try off the mommy switch when you are with your husband.

    I think things are shaped not only by your past relationships, but also by what you witness around you, including the relationship of your parents and friends.

  2. Xavier says:

    most marriages I have witnessed (or been in) are a discovery process. Sometimes the relationship can manage through the early experiments, other times not so much.

  3. Ginny says:

    Very well-written and I don’t have much to add, but did want to say that you and about 90% of all other long-married folk I know have this same opinion–that you’d probably avoid doing it again. Many men I know who’ve been married at least 10-15 yrs. or longer most definitely do not want to try it again if ever given the chance. I think marriage is extremely difficult even in the best of circumstances and most people do not have the best of circumstances. Mostly I have seen people both young and old marry for all the wrong reasons, even though they would be impossible to convince at the time of the wedding. Still, despite everything you’ve been through you make some excellent positive points about your own self-growth as a result of your marriage to Arwyn. I have come to believe that it all comes down to one thing: your relationship with yourself, first and foremost, and you have to start there and work outward…

  4. Aphron says:

    Well, I’m glad I could help you improve how you feel about your situation. It’s funny how people put on masks. Your comment about how people said they would hurt you, if you hurt Arwyn, drove that home. Outwardly, Sybil is great. Living with her…well…Dante wrote about it. I have to echo your comments, though. Long time married people just try to take things one day at a time and try not to kill each other in the process.

  5. I’d say that being married really put me in touch as to what I want from a relationship, which was a real eye opener for me. It was so radically different from what I initially expected. Now I really understand the power and the value of deep intimacy. As much of a barren wasteland my marriage was, it taught me some very important lessons as far as my wants and needs and the validity of both. I don’t think I would have learned any of this on my own.

  6. Dave says:

    I wonder if any “betterment” has as much to do with a marriage, as it does growth and maturity? I know in many ways I’m better *off* being married, but (and maybe I’m simply too close to things to see clearly), I don’t know that I’m a better person for it.

    Interesting question, making me think- thanks!

  7. Cat says:

    Well I know everyone tells me never to say never but I honestly don’t think I will get married again. I love my boys and I wouldn’t change one thing I’ve done BUT I don’t need a 2nd try with marriage. I think it’s outdated, it was meant for people who had no chance to live as long as we do, it was meant for a subordinate and a leader not equals, and it was meant as a contract to betterment and wealth not Sleepless in Seattle which is what modern day folks expect. I hope to have intimacy and a meaningful relationship in my future but I am not even sure if pursuing that is the same as pursuing marriage.

  8. Craig says:

    Hmmmmm. . . I have to confess, it’s a little weird to have you blogging again after so long. I’ve sort-of reprogrammed my on-line routine, so it might take a little while to remember that you’re not ‘dormant’ anymore. . .

    I had to chuckle a bit at your passing comment re my wife. ‘Cuz yeah, we have a really strong, life-giving marriage. I know that there are some really strong ‘basic principles’ as to what makes for a strong marriage. But both spouses have to be committed to them; if only one is, it won’t work.

    And yeah, it’s mainly been our kids that have caused the heartbreak in our lives. Not that there’s so many of ’em, I don’t think. But somehow, between Jen and me, our gene pool seems to bequeath ’em with some manner of proclivity to mental illness of one degree or another.

    But on the plus side, there has seemed to be a kind of Law of Conservation of Filial Craziness – we don’t get a new case until one of the old ones is mostly played out. The ones who were giving us grief a few years ago are mostly doing much better now, but there are new ones stepping in to take their places. . .

    But, as someone once said, God is more interested in our holiness than our happiness. And that’s just a hard concept for us 21st-century Americans to wrap our minds around. . .

  9. Xavier says:

    “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.”

    Same here. And while Queenie was definitely not threatened I did take this very seriously and that has served me well. As men many of us have been taught to be rough, direct, straight-forward emotion-constrained beasts and that simply does not serve the ‘typical’ woman well as an intimate mate. In the average Biblical account the woman is considered the weaker vessel but I have come to believe that would more accurately be termed as the more vulnerable vessel. Women are more open to emotional intimacy and can be left vulnerable as a result and we as men need to know that and be prepared to deal with the, well, consequences of that. In this case consequences is probably not completely accurate but hopefully you get the idea. This is not in any way a failing, but rather is a strength that women (you know, in the general sense) have over us.

    Weird, now I have no idea where I was going with this. Normally I would just delete and try again later or leave it be altogether but instead I’m gonna leave myself vulnerable and leave this out there. Whatever it is ….

  10. I’ve just recently been re-married to a man who has also been married before (a few times) we’ll see if it works. We seem to have all of the right “ingredients” in place for a successful relationship, but we’re both well aware we’ve not made great choices in the past, and that people change. We’ve been very upfront with each other about what doesn’t work for us. What does, so far we are discovering together. Ask me how it’s going in a few years. I might have some better insight then.

  11. Malcolm says:

    When you toss a dozen of punches in just a minute and constantly for an hour or two, you will surely see major developments in your arm muscles. So are you wanting to study martial arts, practical self defense that works for real-world scenarios. You have no doubt come across a website here and there that takes forever to load.

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