I’m now 50 years old and first started dating when I was about 14. I’m sharing that to say I’ve had plenty of dating experiences and have been in relationships with different types of guys. I realized the breakup, regardless of whether it was my idea or not, was a good thing because it usually caused me to do some introspection and self-reflection.
I’ll be doing a YouTube series on this very topic for those who’d like to “see” me and hear my voice. My YouTube channel is https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCaiOktrp18wlhKWv3mefl8Q. Click on the Polyamorist or Mental Health Awareness playlist to view videos on this topic. If you subscribe and click the notification bell, you’ll be notified of when I upload new videos. I do various types of videos and title them accordingly so you can watch what you want to and ignore those you don’t have an interest in.
This article will focus on my marriages. I married at age 25 and, again, at age 35. The first marriage lasted about seven years, with a five year split in the middle. The second one lasted for six and a half years. I thought to myself, “I’ll never get married again.” However, once I sat back and took time to reflect on my decisions in men, I acknowledged that I would actually marry again because I felt I’d learned from my previous poor choices. My picker, as they say, was broken. I’m not saying I have it all figured out. I know I don’t. Although, I’ve learned a lot about myself and continue to do so on a regular basis.
What did I realize from my marriages?
I picked the same type of man. They both worked in security, liked to tinker with computers, took pride in their vehicles as a show piece, weren’t effective communicators, cared about how others viewed them to the extent of being pretentious, didn’t hold themselves accountable for their actions, bragged about me as if I were a captured prize, weren’t problem solvers, didn’t acknowledge problems, had poor financial skills and practices, came from a two parent household in which the mother was a stay-at-home parent and were passive-aggressive, and I could go on.
That probably sounds like a lot. It is, was, a lot. I chose to accept their marriage proposal, both within three or four months of knowing them. That was my first mistake. I didn’t take time to really get to know them as people. Things I learned include, but isn’t limited to:
One: I wanted physical security. My life had been very transient, so when offered the promise of a “good life,” I was all for it.
Two: I overlooked red flags in their behaviors and words. They both repeatedly said they wanted a marriage like their parents had. They didn’t understand we weren’t their parents and, therefore, our marriage wouldn’t mirror theirs.
Three: We never discussed our viewpoints of what we believed being a husband and wife meant. They both would tell me they wanted me to “be my wife.” I remember saying, “I’ve been your wife since I said my marriage vows. What do you mean be your wife?” Neither one was able to explain what they meant, which left me to figure it out on my own. That’s when I began reflecting on their upbringing. Both of their mothers were stay-at-home parents. It seemed their idea of a wife was a woman who didn’t work or worked from within the home. It was more apparent to me when I started working again two years into my second marriage and his attitude shifted toward me.
Four: I started working in both marriages due to financial problems i.e. receiving late notices on bills, my student loans becoming due, etc. Once I began working, both husbands claimed I didn’t need them. I didn’t understand that at the time because we had joint accounts. For each marriage I ended up working a second job due to them having poor spending habits. My working two jobs caused some resentment in me because they both insisted on working only one job while telling me not to obtain additional employment. We needed money and neither one was able to think of a solution. Both would say, “Things’ll work out.” I’d ask how and they never had an answer. So, I obtained a second job, which widened the wedge between us because they felt less needed and didn’t have the stay-at-home wife they expected.
Five: Neither seemed to realize relationships take work. They simply believed they’d go to work, come home, not save for retirement, not travel or have date nights, and our marriage would be healthy and look good from the outside like their parents’ marriage appeared to be without us ever discussing what our individual expectations were.
What did I learn about myself?
I learned to be more conscious of the men I date and engage in a relationship with; to focus on having intellectual conversations for us to understand each other’s expectations, wants, and needs; to slow down and not readily accept promises; to put my heart on hold; and, to think logically about what a relationship with someone may look like.
I need to take the time to find out what makes a man tick, what his thought processes are, is he a problem-solver, does he accept responsibility for his words and behaviors, what does he expect from a woman, does he recognize me for me and not compare me to someone else, is he financially responsible, is he thoughtful and compassionate, et al.
I need to take time and consider whether or not a man can meet my wants and needs, is he capable and willing to commit to the work necessary for a relationship to be healthy, does he support my lifestyle/hobbies, is he considerate of my disability and physical limitations, does he want to spend time with me and go on dates to maintain a spark in our relationship, is he a person of integrity, does he have emotional intelligence and maturity, is he more concerned with being a good person or simply appearing to be one to others. It’s not a one-way street. A healthy relationship is a reciprocal one. I also consider if I’m able to provide him with the above listed things.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on past or current relationships. What have you learned about yourself through introspection and self-reflection? What are some patterns of behaviors you realized about yourself? How have you overcome them?
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