Men and Women

I thought all marriages were like Mom and Dad’s. They were together for over sixty years and argued every single day.  About everything. As the oldest of their six children I gave little notice to the discord but when looking back, I see it clearly.  Around thirty-seven years in, Mom tearfully informed they were getting a divorce.

Talking individually with Dad, he said they’d been going to counseling. He really liked the guy they were seeing who, according to Dad, was on his side. He then remarked that Mom could get a divorce if she wanted to; all this was her fault anyway. She never followed through and life returned to the way it had always been.

I recall on my visits home, Dad always passed around the latest four-panel cartoon from the daily newspaper. It was called “The Bickerson’s.” He’d snicker as he recounted how the cartoon depicted the latest disagreement embroiling their daily life. Dad chuckled. Mom looked pained.

Their marriage wasn’t violent or physically abusive but there was always the undercurrent of tension and discord. A constant pick, pick, pick. I marveled that they stayed together but that was another time when divorce was shameful. Especially for my Catholic mother. By the time Dad retired they’d found ways to tolerate each other and get through the day.

You’d think I would have learned a valuable lesson from this. But no. I’d bought into the whole marriage myth. Hook, line and sinker. Pardon the cliché but that describes it perfectly. I chased that myth most of my adult life. I had to be married. I had to be part of a couple. Why didn’t I question that fallacy? I still wonder what was I thinking when insisted I was a “couples person.”

Back in my undergrad days in the 1960’s, I hung out with a boyfriend who would become my first husband. He and his friends belonged to the campus Vet’s Club. He dragged me everywhere with them. Picture me with a dozen boys making the rounds to the local townie bars in that small college town. I felt like one of the guys and really enjoyed that.

Too bad I didn’t realize how I felt; I could have stopped the runaway train, preventing me from entering into a marriage that had not been thought through very well. That also didn’t stop me from re-entering the comfortable world of couples a second time. And I wasn’t wise enough to see that the twelve years I’d spent alone between my two marriages had been the best time of my life.

Following that second marriage, I recall being at a board meeting of a non-profit I served on. After the meeting we went to dinner. There were four men and four women; all the men were married. We talked and laughed and had a great time.

Toward the end of the evening I leaned over to the woman next to me and commented how great this was. We could spend such a nice evening in the company of some really nice men and then go home alone. She commented we were possibly seeing the best side of these guys. Our snugness was palpable.

Sometime after my second divorce was finalized, the ex-husband started coming around again. I realized I didn’t want to go back. I liked my apartment decorated the way I wanted and not having to check with anyone before planning an activity.

I admit it would be nice to have a male companion. I really do like men. I just don’t want to be in an entanglement with one. And that’s what it is. An entanglement. Truthfully, I’d have liked it if that second husband and I could have lived apart and seen each other regularly for lunch, a movie or whatever. But no, he wanted a live-in housekeeper, etc.

And that’s the crux of it. Men and women are not compatible. They want and value different things. They come to diverse solutions for the same problem.  There’s always the bargaining that goes on. I’ll go with you to the hobby swap-meet if you go with me to a beach front vacation. Swerving from the bargain leads to resentment.

I wish I’d figured all that out earlier. I no longer buy the myth that happiness will be found by finding that soul mate, by teaming up with that perfect man. I’m no longer shocked when that couple who seemed to have it all together announce they’re getting divorced.



Discombobulated 2019

It’s one day after the new year.
A new plan, simple but fun.
Internet check shows yoga at 12:30.
After that, lunch with a book.
Off I go.

Great parking place found.
Look in my purse,
no wallet.
Where did I last have it?
How can I sign in to my class? Aghast!
At the desk I explain,
no problem they say.

Strange, as I approach the room
the class is in mid-pose.
I check the schedule on the door.
Yoga at 11:30 it says. Pshaw!
What a mess!

No wallet, so no lunch.
Home I go.
When I arrive, no wallet to be found
in all the usual places.
Yikes, now I’ll have to replace it all.
Then there it is
under the table on the chair seat.|

Rattled and unbalanced.
Oh, just another sign of aging.
Is that what this is?
Maybe I’m doomed to such discombobulation
for the rest of the year.
Welcome 2019!








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