There’s an article making the internet rounds right now about a woman who made her boyfriend a particularly good sandwich and he, upon eating it, declared that if she made him 300 more he’d propose to her.
I’m not as offended by this as some. As someone very deeply in love I get the impulse to want to do things for the object of my affection simply because making them happy makes me happy too – and I think that deep down that’s really where the idea for this comes from. Sandwiches make this guy happy, she likes making him happy, and the engagement ring thing is probably a cute relationship joke that got a little out of hand. I’m certain that if their relationship is a happy one, he does an equal share of nice things for her too.
And on an unrelated note, the blog in question has some really tasty-looking sandwich recipes.
However, the article and people’s reaction to it gave me cause to think about what I’ve learned over the past decade of having what is, in my own opinion anyway, an extremely happy marriage. It’s far from a perfect one, there are certainly fights and disagreements and tears involved, but I consider Ted and I very successful simply because at no point in any of the bad did he ever cease to be both my best friend and the human being I always want to be around, every day, without exception. If that were not the case, I would not have married him – and he would not have married me.
This basically boils down the advice I am capable of giving on marriage to one fairly simple rule: marry somebody that you genuinely like more than you like anybody else.
That would seem like an obvious point, but over the years I’ve seen so many cases of married couples who appear to love one another, but in order to truly “relax” or “have fun” they need to “get away” from the person they married. They love one another, but they don’t seem to like one another very much.
I see this among the types of guys who seem to view women as a necessary thing in life: you’re supposed to have one and they’re good on many levels for many things – but they’re not truly people. In order to relax and enjoy life and be with people, they really need to be in the company of other men. Which of course makes me wonder why exactly that type of guy didn’t just, you know, marry a man in the first place. It’s not one sided, I’ve seen the reverse going on among women too. It’s almost as though some people view the opposite sex as an entire alien species altogether. One that they like but… don’t really want to spend time with if they’ve got another option.
The level on which the above mentioned article does frustrate and annoy me is that it perpetuates the sad, tired trope about women being marriage-hungry hunters and men the elusive prey who run and run until they’re finally trapped into this life situation that, deep down, they really don’t want – whether by persistence and nagging on the part of the female or the acquisition of enough sandwiches. If you don’t want to get married, then don’t. If your boyfriend doesn’t seem to genuinely want to marry you, then pressuring and/or bribing him into it is probably not going to be a good idea long-term. When Ted proposed to me he wasn’t 100% sure I would say yes (which is why he did it in private) and if both he and I hadn’t felt 100% sure about the match or were experiencing reluctance, we wouldn’t have done it. If at any time Ted had referred to me as “the ‘ole ball ‘n chain” or I him, then we would have told one another we didn’t want to pressure a person into something that wasn’t what they desired – and that they were free to go.
It’s pretty simple:
When I am out and having fun – Ted is who I want to be with.
When I am hiding out at home relaxing – Ted is who I want to be with.
When I am sad or angry or frustrated – Ted is who I want to be with.
If he were not that person who was the ideal match to my every mood, then it’s very simple – I would not have married him.
And now that I look at all these words I realize that I’m simply parroting back what my mother and father said to me much more simply from the time that I was a little girl: just marry your best friend.