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Love Means Never having to Apologise for Saying “Sorry, You don’t get to treat Me like that.”

Loving someone, even deeply and completely, does not automatically confer a sprinkling of pixie dust that creates compatibility.  It takes work. And even then, work will not make two people fit who do not. Like sanding, it may take off rough edges, but will not make something into a new shape. That would be to make a new person in a shape that fits. Such love is not for the person, but an image or ideal, an imagining. Work will not make a miss-sized or miss-shaped shoe fit. You may get it on, but it won’t get you anywhere.

There have been a spate of “Love me as I am” graphics on the Internet lately. The latest says “The person who really loves you sees what a mess you can be, how moody you can get, and how hard you are to handle. But still wants you in their life.” Bad punctuation aside, this is a load of trite, treacly tripe not worth the pixels it takes to render it. The “hard to handle” part of the poster is the part I find most, well… hard to handle. Sure, no one is perfect. As one friend said, we are “Perfectly imperfect works in progress.” But the poster isn’t saying that. Basically, the poster is saying this : “Hey, even if I’m a complete and utter basket-case that makes you crazy, so inconsistent that you cannot even build trust in me,  if you love me, you’ll put up with whatever the hell I do to you.”

There is a quote that has been going around that is attributed to Marilyn Monroe. “I’m selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control and at times hard to handle. But if you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best.”  Let’s look at this. That’s a bit like saying “You love me, so I’m going to feed you fishsticks. If you don’t like eating fishsticks, you sure as hell don’t deserve to eat fresh salmon.”   What we should be saying, both men and women, to our lovers, is this. “You love me and you deserve my best all the time. I love you and want you to have my best. But sometimes, like all people, I’m at my worse. And thank you for dealing as best as you can with that as well.”

Love doesn’t mean putting up with abuse. And love should mean doing our best to modify the inconsistencies, the moods, so there is stability.  Without stability, nothing can be built.

Look at is this way -these posters usually come with graphics that have beaches, and hearts, and flowers, denoting femininity in some way, so we know it is aimed at men and regarding women. What if we changed the graphics to denote something that is culturally understood as masculine.  For the sake of argument, perhaps a garage. Or a beer can. Telling women that, as a guy, I can be unstable, inconsistent, moody, snappish, and hard to handle but, if you love me, you’ll put up with my lack of desire to control myself, lack of interest in seeing how my behavior affects you, and whatever nonsense I dish out.  How far would that get?

And a guy who puts up with that, no matter how much he loves a woman? And, to be fair, any woman who puts up with that from a man? We’d say they have a lack in self-respect. Maybe they don’t love themselves or respect themselves enough. Or perhaps they feel they can’t do better or don’t deserve to be treated better.

These posters perpetuate an idea that any feminist, female or male, should rail against. The idea that a woman isn’t responsible for her behavior and, if a man loves her, he’ll just deal with it. That men are, by duty, stable and consistent – the emotional anchor in a relationship – and that women are creatures of emotion only and may be absolved of responsibility for upheavals in a relationship. Upheavals that men must simply weather. It’s time for these posters to go and for women to stop posting them. They owe it to their daughters. They owe it to their sons. They owe it to their lovers. They owe it to those who fought for women to stand on equal footing.  They owe it to themselves.

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Posted by on March 13, 2013 in Culture, psychology, Social

 

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A Better Wife

I am posting this, originally a response to a post on Route 153, a blog by a woman I know only by the name Indigo Bunting. She lives in Vermont, several universes from here, and is an editor friend of an editor friend. That is a double editor. I’m not going to argue with that. So when Craig said try writing short form and Indigo suggested posting my reply, a bit long, to her blog entry “Girl” as an entry of my own, I complied. I know what’s best.

“If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive.” Audre Lorde

My wife claims I am a much better wife than she.

I am not sure she has worn anything but dungarees in over two decades with the exception of three occasions. I can recall each of them. One wedding, one bar mitzvah and one charity event. I wish to point out that wedding was not even our own. To that we each wore dungarees and t-shirts. If I count pagan festivals, over the course of the last twenty-five years I think I might actually have worn skirts and such more often than she. Makeup? Ha! Cooking? My territory.

Sewing the holes in the clothes? Mine (after she threads the needle for me).

Her shoes are as sensible as can be – Merrels made for standing. The blow drier is never used except by my son. She is a pick the clothes from the pile, wash’n’go, no frills cheap-date of a gal I adore more than the bright stars and the loamy Earth.

And I don’t dare take her into a lesbian bookstore or I need to fight to keep her. I do this as often as I can.

If there were continuum for gender-behaviour, with guyishness staff and girlishness distaff, my Lee would be a bit right of center. I would be a bit left. It all balances out to who the hell cares.

But she does like her purses. Stone Mountain, Dooney and Bourke, Coach. She looks and looks and looks but never bought. She tells her patients they need to ditch their purses and use backpacks. She follows her own advice on this.

Last birthday she decided to treat herself to a purse she had long wanted. A Stone Mountain bag. She spent nearly two hundred on it. She used it for two days and returned it. Not worth what she spent. She was cured.

Then, a few months ago, I found at a local auction a Prada bag. I grabbed it for $35.00. She is delighted. She has her girlie-bag. It is a back pack, of course.

As far as myself, well, I don’t build, I do garden a bit but I do not do lawn work. Fix the house? HA! My father and wife, many years ago, got together and sold all my powertools while I was on a trip. For my own good, they told me. I didn’t argue. Of course, that is the same way I ended up moving in with my wife. That is a different story.

I love opera, but I always retranslate the songs. They are all about cows and barnyard life.

I would rather have a migraine than watch football. Really. I find them less painful and more interesting. They also don’t last as long.

I’ll play soccer but watch sports? Like on a TV? No thank you.

I use the same Jansport backpack my wife complained I overpaid for, at $35 dollars, when my daughter was three. That was twenty-three years ago.

I don’t tinker with my car. I sold my truck a few weeks ago. The truck festooned with breast cancer awareness magnets and a sticker that said “Real men change diapers.” You know, a real guy truck.

Not fitting into a set role makes it easier to allow other people not to fit into roles either.

Ok, now to rebuild what feels to be my diminishing masculinity, I’m going to go tell my wife to cook something and have her get me a beer.

I’d better go buy some beer first. And make dinner reservations.

 
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Posted by on September 14, 2008 in Culture, Family, psychology, Social

 

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