To be honest, if the title of this post drove you to read it and you have never visited my blog before, I am a bit worried about you. Rather than waste your time, I will say that if you believe you will find some yardstick herein by which you can evaluate the quality of your relationship you are bound to be disappointed – and you are probably not mature enough to be in an adult relationship anyway and so should immediately telephone your significant other and break up with them. In doing so, you are all but guaranteed to make the world a better place.
I had coffee with a friend yesterday, and she related to me the story of someone she knows who is constantly embroiled in dramatic relationships. Quite often one or both of them left their previous relationship because one or both of the people in that relationship had been unfaithful in the context of that relationship more than once and eventually their infidelity came to light. This caused that relationship to blow apart, quite often despite the fact that neither partner had been faithful to the relationship, which in turn led to another relationship with more drama and infidelity. You might say that these relationships are cesspools of infidelity, betrayal, obsessive behavior, and people far to immature to even think about being a relationship with anything but a pet goldfish. As an aside, one would hope that by the time a person is pushing forty years old they would be capable of relating to a being that is bipedal.
That’s right. We aren’t talking about people my daughter’s age – in their early twenties – for whom non-theatrical drama is a career path. Last night she (my daughter) left to go save the day in one of her friends’ relationships because that friend’s relationships, no matter with men or women, are always “intense.” I have learned that “intense” usually means drama-filled, immature, dysfunctional, stupid, and a waste of oxygen. So and so is going to beat the hell out of such and such and, without fail, make sure that at least one child under the age of ten is present to witness it. After all, what fun would all of this be if we didn’t perpetuate the suffering?
Whether we are examining couples who are nearing forty or who have just passed their twenty-first birthday, those of us who are shocked by their stupidity often look for answers. We declare that they just don’t love themselves enough, or they have some character flaw, or their parents didn’t model parenting or marriage very well, or any of a number of other proposed explanations. Many of these suggestions may have some validity, but the more important question may well be how does someone get to be pushing forty without having at least tried to address their own issues?
The answer, of course, is that people are assholes. Not just any old assholes, mind you, but second, third, or even fourth generation assholes. Their assholes run deep.
I happen to be of the opinion that, somewhere in the early to middle part of the last century, married couples lost the sense of the common struggle that united them in relationship. A couple on the farm recognized that they needed to work together to make everything on the farm run smoothly. The same was true back when we were in a production economy. Someone, most often the husband, we working at hard physical labor most of the day and really needed someone else to make the household run – especially as his body deteriorated as a direct result of the physical labor to which he had given himself. It certainly was true that there were unhappy marriages in those days, and it was also an undesirable truth that the economic reality for women was that there was no escape from a bad relationship. I do not for one moment claim those were desirable situations at all. What I am claiming is that there was a reason, a shared goal, that forced couples to work at their relationships and not just walk away from them at the first sign of distress.
Fast forward to the last half of the last century and we see a service based economy developing, and with it a very good increase in independence and income for both men and women. No longer having to stay together united in a common goal, divorce increased exponentially. Talk of things like “starter homes” expanded to “starter spouses,” an expression that conveniently cast the blame for the “starter spouse” at the feet of said spouse’s alleged deficiency rather than at the feet of the individual insensitive enough to use such an expression. It would seem that absent the need for a true life partner for physical survival, most people have a rough time making the shift to the idea of choosing a life partner for mutual support, encouragement, and sharing the journey together. I further want to suggest that, absent a product that proves one’s work has produced fruit, we have turned to various status symbols in a misguided, doomed from the start attempt to prove our worth. Rather, or perhaps in addition to, climbing the career ladder we seek to acquire and trade in all sorts of external talismans in our hope to convince ourselves of a truth that can only come from within: We are OK.
But we aren’t OK, we are assholes, because we have spent months or years or decades attempting to convince ourselves that we are OK at the expense of other sentient beings! We enter into relationships because of our biological imperative to reproduce, also known as chronic horniness, with the expectation that our future partners or objects of temporary surrender will meet all sorts of needs we carry which by definition must be met by us! Now, quite possibly this wouldn’t be such a bad thing if we all were responsible and used birth control, but we don’t. Before long we have observant little information sponges joining us on our journey and watching our apparent obsessions with inappropriate partners and doing what children need to do to survive – assuming their parents’ behavior is normal. Welcome to multi-generational asshole-dom.
Ironically, small-minded morons like Rick Santorum believe the solution to societal ills is to ban birth control. Perfect. Let’s provide more observers for the asshole dance. Mind you, I’m not opposed to children. I think they are just grand. So grand, in fact, that they deserve households with parents who are at least willing to entertain the notion that the whole family just might be OK. That would be a household that recognized that “dangerous guys” who act like Vin Diesel are not suitable for anything involving direct contact with another human being, where parents are free from addictions and all sort of other self-destructive behavior and can manage to pull their cell phone away from their ears at night and actually spend time with their children. To get to this point in our society we are going to have to stop listening to politicians are start listening to social scientists and spiritual leaders – and anyone else unwilling to prostitute themselves to the lowest bidder or rely on magical thinking as the foundation for making decisions.
I am probably asking too much, I realize. Hope springs eternal!