Monday, January 01, 2007

Connie's essay

There is a lady, Connie, over at the Personal Effects. She is an essayist and pens pieces about life. Her latest is about the power that women have over men, and she is right with most of her premise. Go read it.

You're back? Good. Most of her premise is correct. Our ladies have remarkable power over us, and that is how it should be. Women are the keepers of the hearth, the basis of the traditional family. However, Connie makes a mistake in interpretation and the particular paragraph is here:
There is nothing like the insanity of a man whose wife has left him. He will never fully recover. It will forever change him. He may find a new wife, but the scars left by the former one will be deep and festering. The man is an empty shell.

A man might want to control his surroundings. He may even think he has control over his life. But he doesn’t.
Respectfully, I disagree.

I've been left, you see, and have come through the fire stronger. My situation isn't necessarily unique.

In 1998 I found myself left. It hurt. Really badly. And I got a bit crazy during the trauma of the divorce. During my first marriage, I fell into some stereotypical behaviors that most men find themselves in at some point. I was trying to control my life, and in doing so, was trying to control the people in my life.

All because I wasn't in control of myself.

Then, slowly, the lesson dawned, as most of life's lessons dawn. If I couldn't control myself, how could I control the people around me? More particularly, why would I want to control anyone for any reason? I learned a lot of things during my divorce, things that made me stonger, things that made me wiser. I'm a better man for having gone through it.

I decided that if I couldn't control the people in my life, then I had to control who was in my life. I had to control myself. That if I wanted love, I had to be loveable. That if I wanted peace in my household I had to be peaceful. That if I didn't want strife, I had to avoid strife. That if I wanted my children to grow to be healthy adults, I had to provide the example. I still try to do that, even now that they are all grown.

In time, I met a lady who wanted to be part of my life, and I wanted her in it. We agreed on the big things we wanted. We agreed on the things we didn't want, and we formulated an understanding that allows us to live in a manner that pleases both of us.

We started dating in 2001. We became engaged on New Years Eve 2002-03 and we married in 2003. In five years, we haven't had an argument, we haven't spoken a cross word.

Don't think for a minute that either she or I are shrinking violets. We aren't. We both hold very particular opinions on a variety of topics. We both know who is in charge of particular pieces of our life. We agree to disagree on certain subjects, but we don't argue. It's just not worth it.

I know that there are behaviors she won't tolerate, so I don't commit those behaviors. She knows the same about me, and respects my boundaries. Anything else is up for negotiation, and we negotiate frequently. When we negotiate, it isn't in a adversarial sense, but one in which both our best interests are important.

For example: She is in charge of the interior decoration of the home. If she decides to paint the living room day-glo orange, I have no vote. That is her domain. It is my task to help her paint the room, but I have no vote on the color.

Other things are my domain. Our project house, for example. I am responsible for construction and design as it relates to ease of construction, materials, and maintenance. The time line is my domain. Whether it is done in a day or a year, she knows that I'll take care of it as I am able. She doesn't nag, although she watches the progress with a keen eye. She knows that there will come a time soon in which she will be tasked with picking colors and decorative style. Those are her domains and I won't participate in them, except as it relates to the actual painting. Whatever she chooses is okay by me.

I haven't been in a domestic argument in five years. I love my wife and she loves me. There are areas in our life that are particularly the province of the other, and we both respect those boundaries in things large and small.

I may not be in control of my life, but I am in control of myself. The things that swirl around me in this life are not my fault, except as it relates to choices I have made. I think I am a better man than I was ten years ago.


wst... said...

great post!

Anonymous said...

Good on you...getting better comes with age, but the age comes with expanding experience. It's up to us to decide how we will apply the learnings of age.

Anonymous said...

We're not all so lucky.