Friday, March 20, 2009

On being second to last....

Carolyn is on vacation, so she posted a couple longer letters from readers (ones that didn't require answers) to fill the space. I thought this one was really sort of lovely, on why your ex married the next person he met after you......(the cartoon was published in the Washington Post next to the column--there is typically one for every column. It of course is the property of the artist and/or the Post, and not me, but I hope they won't mind me sharing it since I link back to where it's published).

Not that you ARE my husband's ex, but if you were:

1. He liked you a lot, but he had quirks you kept trying to change, quirks he didn't want to change. And I thought the same quirks were delightful. I really don't mind hearing his favorite anecdote over and over -- he and I have been together for seven years, I think I've heard it a million times now. I can recite it. I still think it's a great story.

2. You had quirks he didn't mind in a girlfriend, but made him want to kill himself when he considered marrying you. And they weren't bad things -- your obsession with making task lists, for example -- so he didn't feel like he had the right to ask you to change. His one attempt at asking you not to make lists for him didn't go well, and that wasn't your fault, but that didn't make him want to spend a lifetime looking at a fridge full of lists.

3. Your sex drives were different (yours was . . . higher). His and mine are compatible. 'Nuff said.

4. You thought his family was kind of tacky. They are. But I'm from an equally tacky family, and so I fit better from almost day one.

You are prettier than I am, sexier than I am, and a better person than I am, if I'm going to be honest. When I met you I went home and cried, because I could not fathom why he wanted to be with me, with someone like you in his past!

But he and I are two peas in a pod, with the same sense of humor, approach to life, attitude toward marriage and chores and money, the works. You had none of those things, just love and affection. That's not enough. The only way you could have married him was to resign you both to endless counseling and a nagging suspicion that a marriage shouldn't be so hard.

~It's Really Not You

4 comments:

thesamsanator said...

I agree that this letter is lovely all the way to the second to last paragraph. Being prettier, better, smarter, etc. are all a matter or perception, and I hope this woman has the self esteem enough to see that her husband probably thinks she is the prettier, smarter, better person. I mean, I hope he feels that way! It makes me sad to think that, for the past seven years, and maybe for the rest of her life, she'll be thinking that she wasn't the best, just the most adaptable to her husband's needs. While that is very important, that isn't everything, and hopefully she sees that.

Becky said...

Ashley, I see your point and agree with it, but somehow this woman's letter didn't make me afraid that she felt that way.

I got the impression that her description of "the other woman" was more about how she felt when she first met her...how intimidating it was to come after someone so beautiful (whether the HUSBAND) would "rank" them that way or not, and to assure that woman that it really "wasn't her" that caused the end of the relationship.

It would be sad if she thought her husband didn't think she was the prettiest, sexiest, and best woman he could choose to spend his life with--but I felt this was more woman-sizing-up-woman (girl politics again!) than a comment on how the man perceived either of them.

Becky said...

wow, sorry for the terrible grammar and rogue parentheses!! But you get my point....

thesamsanator said...

No apology for grammar needed. Just don't let Elwood see it. ;)

I suppose I know several women for whom this would be true; they might live the rest of their lives thinking they weren't the best woman in their husband's life, just the one that came at the right time or fit in with his quirks better, etc. It just makes me sad to think that this could happen. I mean, of COURSE I've looked at other women in my boyfriends' lives and thought "what the heck is he doing with me?" but I quickly realized that there must be something I have that she didn't (or don't have that she did, depending on the reason for the break up), or something in the timing or some other situation to make me the better match for him.

I guess that's my whole problem with girl politics/woman politics in general. Women are always comparing themselves to other women, asking themselves who is the better dressed, the smarter, the sexier, the happier, the prettier, etc. and generally coming to conclusions that either expose their low self esteem and make them inevitably jealous of the other woman, or show their confidence in themselves and what they have to offer and inevitably make them a cocky bitch who will never make a "good wife."

Rarely, with an exception in the beginning part of this letter here, do we see a focus on a MATCH between husband and wife rather than a proverbial girl-fight to the death.