How I discovered that I wanted to be married

Scott tells the story of how he came to see himself as a happily married man. 

Introduction

Last month, I made this comment in the “Opportunities” thread:

I am going to formulate my thoughts on how I became so almost obsessed with having a passionate life long love affair and write a post about it — if I can figure out a way to tell that story that actually helps men.

So I guess I am on a roll with Sigma Frame posts.  Here it goes.

I know almost the precise moment when I knew —

  1. I wanted to be married someday.
  2. I wanted to have a super high intensity, starstruck romance, with whomever that wife ended up being, that never ended.

My own parents, who stayed married 25 years–and divorced a couple years after I graduated high school–were never particularly loving and affectionate with each other, at least not that I could see.  They were nice enough to each other, and they kissed once in a while, but mostly they were like friends who lived in the same house as their kids and slept in the same room together.  At least that was my perception of it.  Don’t get me wrong–it was stable, loving, and better than it seemed most kids had.  I was a teenager in the 80’s–the height of latch key kids, divorces, blended families, all that stuff.  My friends were mostly pretty weirded out when they found out my mom was waiting for me to come home from school with snacks ready.

My first exposure to marital bliss

I was 12 years old when I met my friend Jesse.  He and his sister moved into town from the San Fernando Valley and started attending the small private Christian school were I had already been for several years.  His parents bought a few acres out in the country–had some farm animals, dirt bikes, that kind of stuff.  Jesse and I hit it off right away, and started hanging out as “best friends” pretty much all the time.  The first time he invited me to sleep over at his place, to go out in the hills, shoot, and ride dirt bikes, I couldn’t wait.

His mom brought us home from school that Friday and we hit the ground running.  Out the door we went to do risky stuff that most parents today would freak out about.  Up to this point, I had never met Jesse’s dad.  We were out riding dirt bikes and his dad came around the corner near where were riding, so we followed him home.

As the three of us walked in the door, I saw Jesse’s mom and dad gravitate towards each other like magnets.  They embraced and held it.  They kissed a little longer.  Jesse’s parents were sweethearts since high school, but even though it was just another work day, they acted like they had not seen each other in months.  Later that night, we were all in the living room watching a movie, and the two of them cuddled on the couch like teenagers in love.  I didn’t think they were being gross or anything like that.  It just felt so normal, which was strange because my own parents were never this way.

Over the next few years I never saw this subside.  They were always like that.  Once, they even snuck off to their bedroom, and looking back now, I know what they were doing.  I estimate they were in their late 30s — early 40s at the time.  I noticed that a feeling of warmth and love seemed to permeate that house, even when they weren’t home.  It lingered in the atmosphere like a security blanket.  I never felt this peaceful ambiance at my own house.

It was at precisely that moment in my development that I knew–I would never be happy in a marriage that was not like theirs.

family frame

My first “relationships” were loaded with expectations

Let me go back to the story I relayed in the “Meet Cute” video.  I wasn’t factually truthful when I said that particular Meet Cute was the “first” one that happened to me.  I actually started having that kind of interest as early as 12–right around the time I was hanging out with Jesse.  Her name was Trish.  But, we were 12, so…

I thought, “We’re 12!  We are too young to do anything serious.  I’ll wait a little longer.”  So I placed a huge amount of importance on that first high school relationship.  After all, I was determined that my version of Jesse’s parents’ relationship was going to happen right around 16-18 or so.  If not, the fairy tale would collapse.

After the first three LTR’s (one as a junior, another as a senior and then one about a year after high school), I started to despair.  My high school sweetheart did not materialize into what I wanted.  Neither did the next 3, or 4, or whatever.  But I took heart, as I always do, and I eventually married at the age of 23 to a girl who had demonstrated her extreme crush on me since junior high.  She literally waited for me, through all that time I had girlfriend after girlfriend–she just KNEW that I would eventually come around and see that she was the one for me.  The story leading up to my marriage was sufficiently romantic enough for me to internalize it as “the one.”

But my first marriage did not turn out well at all.  The end of the story with my first wife is a matter for a different thread.  It took me about two years to get over that divorce.  And by “over”, I only mean “able to enjoy going out on a date again”.  I continued to receive the IOI’s from random women.  I was set up on dates.  But none of them ever worked out.  If you have never seen the 1998 movie “Kissing a Fool” with David Schwimmer and Jason Lee, you should.  Every time I was set up on a date, I would sabotage it by being a disgruntled misanthrope, or by turning the conversation back to my ex and how much I missed her.  Like I said, this went on for about two years.

Framing my experiences

This story is totally understandable when read through two lenses:

  1. Rollo is absolutely right about men loving idealistically.  We are the true romantics and the entire culture has it backwards.
  2. I have deep blue pill conditioning about “the one”, and sometimes, I don’t really care.

That second one is hard.  There is a part of me that holds onto that blue pill conditioning just like a little kid clings to his favorite stuffed animal.  I am willing to take the risk that Mychael is not “the one” knowing that I put my male idealistic effort of love into it, even if she completely demolishes me one day.  I would rather have done that then die knowing that the relationship failed because of something I did, or didn’t do.

So here I am at 48 on my second marriage, that looks a lot like what I wanted.  But the path to getting here was filled with pain, regret and quite a bit of cognitive dissonance to be honest.  There is no way to reconcile some of it.

For example, I believe that my divorce was a sin.  I believe that a grave injustice occurred, but that God managed to make lemonade out of it, in spite of it all.  That means that I have to hold two conflicting things constant in my mind at all times.

  1. The divorce should not have happened
  2. If the divorce had not happened I would not be married to Mychael.  I would not have this family; these children would not exist.

It kind of messes with your head, so I try not to think too much about it.

Sometimes, Mychael and I say it would have been great to bypass all this and have met when we were 16.  Before all the failed relationships (for both of us) all the sex (for both of us) all the jealousy that we now have to guard against, etc.  But the person I was in high school may not have even been attractive to Mychael.  We just don’t know.  I’ve obviously seen pictures of her from that age, and she was super cute, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we would have hit it off.

I’ve seen social memes that say things like “I wish I could have met you sooner, so I could love you longer”, which expresses the same sentiment–one that I resonate with, as readers can tell.

What I have learned

Here are some things I have learned, despite my overblown, romantic mind.

First, the “soulmate” idea is, indeed, a myth.  However, it is only partially a myth.

From a mathematical perspective, it’s pretty obvious why.  It is inconceivable that God (or whatever) has ONE person picked out for you, (and by implication for her).  The idea fails to conform to some pretty basic logical, statistical and even metaphysical principles.  Not to mention its just not in the Bible.  What if your soulmate lived 5 thousand years ago in Africa?  What about all the people who have clearly never met their soulmate?  Is God simply being cruel to them?

Second, secular, conventional wisdom (i.e. the kinds of things I am supposed to say to my clients as a psychologist) is humanistic and is not consistent with what scripture says about why man (and in this case, woman) was created.

“And the Lord God said, it is not good that the man should be alone.  I will make him an help meet for him.” ~ Genesis 2:18 (KJV)

Got that?  For all the smoke and mirrors we hear in this time, this age about being independent, being autonomous, not becoming enmeshed, the text makes the complex simple.  God created the woman to solve the problem of man being alone.  (Or loneliness.) 

And this is what I meant when I wrote that the soulmate concept is partially a myth.  One could argue, that in this story, Eve was Adam’s “soulmate”.  Do you see?  A particular woman was made for a particular man to help him, be his companion, keep him from being alone or lonely.  Depending on how you read that part of the text, Adam may be seen in the light of the “every man” and Eve as the “every woman”.  In this regard, all the stuff about the “gift of singleness” seems like a really bizarre square peg to force into a round hole.  Are there people who really should stay single, for the Kingdom?  Sure.  But my reading of the scripture is, not many.

Marriage, is intended to be an indissoluble sacrament between a man and woman, and I can’t think of anything more “romantic” than that.  So, it occurs to me that my desire to find this type of relationship was in fact, normal, healthy and well placed.  The fact that that I could not articulate it then is irrelevant. The fact that my expression of it was without grounding in Christian principles but rather laden with cultural overlays is very relevant.  I “succeeded” in the arena of serial monogamy for a number of reasons which have been discussed already on this blog.  And, there are some for whom no matter how much I genuflect about it with insightful introspection, I am a carnal unrepentant libertine.  I’m just not going full morbid and be self-loathing.  I am not going to flog myself with a cat-o-nine tails until my back is open and gushing.

Rollo Tomassi of the blog “The Rational Male” hypothesizes that men love idealistically and women love opportunistically, and it has been my experience that this is a decent short hand reality.  It explains, for example, why men are usually the last to know when they are about to be ground up in the divorce grinder.  I consider this to be evidence that men are better at banishing divorce from their minds, which also demolishes the “men are afraid of commitment” canard.  The reality is, they believe that their wives also have banished divorce from their options and therefore they feel free to work out whatever issues arise within the context of marriage without fear of divorce.  I did precisely this in my first marriage.  There was no infidelity, no violence, no drinking/drugs, no yelling, none of that stuff.  My assumption was that, as long as I played by the rules, I was free to work on myself, my relationship under the blanket of total security that the marriage vows provided.

Only men do that.

Men, in fact, created the institution of marriage in the first place (spare me Gods authorship.  I get that.  But men are the authors of the Bible), as a just cause and moral context for the pursuit of sex and love.  (Thanks Dalrock!)

We live in an age where none of this matters unless the individuals who make up the marriage (a particular man and his wife) are taking this all very seriously.  It’s true, my life experience primed me to be like that.  It is also more likely that men would resonate with this perspective, because of who we are.  But it is not a lost case.

Concluding Statements

Yesterday, Mychael came home from her emergency room weekend and relayed a story to me.  She said that several of the women she works with were having a typical conversation that comes up from time to time.  Would you remarry if your husband passed away?

Every one of them had the same response.  “I could never go through having to train another man.

Mychael reported that she pleaded with these women, who seem like nice people otherwise.  She tried to be diplomatic, since she has to work with them.  Ultimately her argument was, “Did he have to train you at all?  Scott has taught me so much about life through his masculine viewpoint and I would be devastated if he was gone.  His shoes are too big to fill, and that’s why I would never remarry.” 

This was greeted with consternation and confusion.  How could a woman say such things about a man?  They are idiots who cannot do or remember anything right!

I’ll close this, because it is getting long.  I have no idea how I got here.  Sure, I “vetted” Mychael on our first few dates.  But at 34, I married her because I thought she was cute and I wanted to keep having sex with my cute girlfriend and have a piece of paper to validate it.  That’s what “people” do.  It provides an aura of legitimacy that people crave.  Not real deep, I know.

For vetting, my main criteria was that, even as I was a broke graduate student driving a piece of crap old Ford Ranger, living in a shitty neighborhood, she couldn’t keep her hands off me.  So I figured, if she is this into me in my 30 something broke graduate student phase, she’ll probably still be like this after I get it together.  That turned out to be a good rubric, because she is still like that.  Yes, I was a little more sophisticated than that, and better equipped to deal with the probability of failure after my divorce.  But I have backed in, accidentally to the relationship I wanted since the beginning.  Your “soulmate,” to the extent that this can be a thing, is the one you are married to.  You both have to believe that and work to make it true.

Related

This entry was posted in Attraction, Courtship and Marriage, Desire, Love, Maturity, Personal Growth and Development, Models of Success, Purpose, Relationships and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to How I discovered that I wanted to be married

  1. Adam says:

    Good post. My experiences are similar. It’s been 18 months since my divorce, (which blindsided me), and I have spent the entire time avoiding women.

    The part you describe about your wife’s conversation with her coworkers is the sum of all fears. It is the new reality. If ever a woman pops up on my future radar then I will be supremely zero-fucks-given just to avoid that awful fate. In fact, I have become more zero fucks given in all aspects of my life since my divorce. I used to be the life of the party, the small talk king, able to keep all social gatherings going. Now I don’t give a shit. Keep your own conversations going, I’m getting another beer.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Bruce Batsche says:

    I struggle with Rollo’s hypothesis of opportunistic (women) vs. idealistic (men) love. First, There’s no distinction between eros, philius, agape, etc.

    I assume he means eros – desire – and maybe the filial aspects that develop in a LTR.

    I guess men’s love is opportunistic in the sense that we love first for physical beauty (there is an “opportunity” indicated by the woman’s attractiveness/fertility/good breeding prospect). Some spin this by saying that men’s love is shallow too but at least the woman herself is the object “loved” and not what she can give the man. But the man still wants something given to him (the physical aspects of the relationship – we aren’t content to admire that beauty/fertility without touching, having).

    I think women can “love” for both physical attraction (same as men) and social/economic status/personality (ability to provide, protect, share investment in children). It seems to be the latter that leads to the accusation that women’s love is opportunistic.

    I think a better frame is that love and marriage involve reciprocity – both people want something from it that the other sex has (as well as the common interest of companionship). It is reasonable to frame it in terms of what men marry for and what women marry for. If each doesn’t accept this reciprocity, then they shouldn’t marry. No one talks about this – somehow love is this magical thing that just “happens” – independent of our needs, our biology, our psychology, our different interests as men and women, our common interests as men and women, etc. So when “the one” doesn’t fulfill your (opportunistic) needs, they must not really be “the one.”

    I don’t think simplistic frames like “men love idealistically, women opportunistically” are very helpful in fixing the institution of marriage. It just sounds like “men great, women suck.”

    Like

    • Scott says:

      Of course, I don’t speak for all men. And in today’s world one is required to offer disclaimers about any generalization to make sure everyone knows you are using it as a rough guide.

      But in my case, my future wife was an abstraction, like a murky figure behind one of those opaque shower doors. I had no idea what she looked like. I “felt” her. She was just there, in my chest. I almost thought that if I wanted her bad enough, she would materialize in front of me from sheer will. <—I don’t get the feeling most women can relate to this paragraph.

      So even though I have obviously always only been attracted to women I thought were cute, it was not the driver behind what I wanted.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Scott says:

        Sorry, hit “post” before I was done with that.

        Should read:

        But in my case, my future wife was an abstraction, like a murky figure behind one of those opaque shower doors. I had no idea what she looked like. I “felt” her. She was just there, in my chest. I almost thought that if I wanted her bad enough, she would materialize in front of me from sheer will. Once I found her, I knew without a doubt that I would use every bit of my energy to commit to and love her and take care of her until I was dead. <—I don’t get the feeling most women can relate to this paragraph.

        My gift, if I have one, is that I think I am pretty good at articulating what the male experience is like better than most men, and I can do it without sounding like a “simp” or a “beta chump” or whatever.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Bruce Batsche says:

        Yes, I think you do this well.

        As far as I can tell, a man falls in love with two things in a woman: 1. The physical (she’s physically attractive to him). 2. Personality attraction: a feminine, soft personality, compassion, kindness, etc. i.e. she has a heart. I think this is the tradespace for men’s love – with some men emphasizing the physical more – classic r-selected preference/strategy I’d guess?

        This may be classic K-selected “beta male” – who knows – but attraction is a threshold – a woman is either physically attractive or not – if she is, her personality is what matters. The “supermodel” is not preferable to the pretty girl next door.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Bruce Batsche says:

    As far as the “train the man” thing, that’s because husbands/fathers are held in low regard by popular culture and women are sensitive to social-environment cues. And too many men are nice and passive. It is bad to be a monster, but equally bad to be a wimp.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ed Hurst says:

    Excellent work, Scott. Sometimes it takes a lot of verbiage to disarm the folly inherent in Western social mythology. I keep trying to point out that the Bible arose from an entirely different intellectual background, with very different assumptions about reality. Too many people read their Western bias back into the Bible to make it say things it would not say to those who wrote it.

    Your story has redemption in it, but we cannot understand redemption on a merely intellectual level. It requires a wholly different faculty the Bible calls “faith.” The issue of failed marriage must be understood on multiple levels; we have a calling from God to raise our awareness above mere intellect.

    Liked by 2 people

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  6. Lance Roberts says:

    No, the men who “wrote” the Bible where just writing what God told them (as the Holy Spirit led them). God created the institution of marriage for many reasons, but at its core it’s the sign (type) that points to the Heavenly family.

    Liked by 1 person

    • larryzb says:

      Yes, God created the institution of marriage (the monogamous pairing of men and women), which predates by many thousands of years the rise of the religions in the Bronze Age.

      Like

  7. Scott says:

    I’ve been thinking all day about this comment I made earlier:

    But in my case, my future wife was an abstraction, like a murky figure behind one of those opaque shower doors. I had no idea what she looked like. I “felt” her. She was just there, in my chest. I almost thought that if I wanted her bad enough, she would materialize in front of me from sheer will. Once I found her, I knew without a doubt that I would use every bit of my energy to commit to and love her and take care of her until I was dead. <—I don’t get the feeling most women can relate to this paragraph.

    And I have an idea about it. It may be worth its own post someday, I don’t know.

    I think the reason most modern woman cannot engage with what I have written here is that for centuries (see Dalrocks writings on courtly love) they have been the object of this fantasy and as such have forgotten to, or it simply does not occur to them to be a participant in it.

    The soul-mate myth, however implausible it may be, has an element of God’s Truth in it, if the potential wife is playing her part and not just being the object of affection. Her “part” in that story is a piece of a much larger template. This is what Catholics mean when they say that the primary purpose in your marriage is to help your spouse get into heaven. Orthodoxy has a similar concept.

    Ed Hurst alludes to the idea of the story I have told here as having a redemptive quality to it, and that is entirely the point, actually. What has happened in my personal life cannot be distilled down to “ingredients of a healthy marriage” or any such thing. What an absolute failure I have been in that regard! It is only useful insofar as the facts of the story are transcended by an arc of redemption. It no longer matters to me what Mychael “does” in my marriage, if that makes sense.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Bruce Batsche says:

      “they have been the object of this fantasy and as such have forgotten to, or it simply does not occur to them to be a participant in it.”

      This suggests something not so much in woman’s nature as something they’re taught. So, yeah, down with Chivalry.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Scott says:

        The nature of men and women is for certain present. My hypothesis is that that our particular culture encourages and rewards the absolute worst parts of female nature, why severely restricting the things about men that we always have.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Bruce Batsche says:

        yes, that’s the feminine imperative – very true.

        Like

  8. Pingback: Idealism and Opportunism are not sex specific | Christianity and masculinity

  9. JPF says:

    Thank you for writing Scott.

    1. I wanted to be married someday.
    2. I wanted to have a super high intensity, starstruck romance, with whomever that wife ended up being, that never ended.

    I think this is common for many men. I also had this desire.
    For many men, this desire comes with the understanding that it involves service to the soon-to-arrive members of his family.
    Women do not seem to have the same, innate expectation that they will serve their husbands once married. This is one reason to check whether your potential bride is focused on serving her (current) family or whether she is pursuing career and the cock carousel.

    Like

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