Warning: Not for the faint of heart!
Recently I was talking to lifelong friend, and I asked about a mutual friend of ours we’ll call Bob. I knew Bob’s marriage had been on the rocks, and was hoping to hear that things were better. But no, I learned that his wife had told him that she wasn’t in love with him and didn’t even find him attractive, but she had no plans to leave the marriage, as they have two young children. Bob, on the other hand, is still very much in love with her, and lives in that heartbreak every day.
If I could have gotten my hands on that woman I would have shaken her till her teeth rattled. Bob is a handsome guy with a wonderful personality, funny and affectionate. He’s a great dad, and loves nothing more than doing stuff with his family. He’s a social person, and loves to get together with friends and their kids for cookouts and fun times. On top of that, he has a great job, and makes well over six figures, so his wife doesn’t even have to work. She has everything in the world she could ever want, and she takes it for granted.
I wish I could say that’s the only situation like that I know of. I have another friend who has checked out of her marriage sexually, and can’t understand why her husband feels the need for a sex life. She admits she isn’t really in love with him anymore, but she doesn’t want a divorce either, as they have four young children. She just expects that he will suck it up and take the marriage on her terms. I know several other women who checked out of their marriages and into affairs.
Now I know it takes two to make a marriage and takes two to break one, but as a single woman who is tired of trying to find a relatively undamaged man, I am ready to scream. The complete unfairness of women who have a good man, children and a family, and then stomp on it drives me crazy. I know it’s true that you never really know someone until you are married to him, but I’ve known these people for many years, and think I have a pretty good idea what kind of men these are by seeing them with their children, and in the years of friendship, both before they were married and since.
I don’t advocate divorce, but I don’t think it’s fair for one spouse to hold the other one as an emotional hostage either. What I wish these women would do is realize what they have, and move heaven and earth to make their husbands happy. If you loved the guy enough to marry him and then have children with him, what gives you the right to decide one day that you don’t want to love him anymore?
In my many years of singleness, I’ve observed a lot of marriages and relationships, including my parents’ 50-year example of how to do it right. I’ve learned how men think, and what men need, and how to make a man feel like a man. I’ve studied the biblical concept of marriage, and understand why marriage is the toughest relationship on earth because to make it successful, you have to eliminate selfishness. And selfishness is our nature. Selfishness is what makes a wife withhold love from her husband. Selfishness is what makes a person decide they can find something better somewhere else. Selfishness is what makes someone say, “He’s just not meeting my needs.” That’s the problem – too many women get married thinking they’ve found the person that will “complete” her and meet all her needs, without thinking about their responsibility for meeting the needs of her spouse.
I’ve also learned what not to do by watching many people around me crash and burn. What I haven’t learned, is how to overcome the damage inflicted by women who abuse their men with emotional blackmail and other manipulations. There are good men out there, but there are also many who find themselves stuck in loveless marriages, or kicked out of marriages, and find themselves alone, separated from the person they vowed to love ’til death, and often separated from children. For all the damage that divorce causes children, I’ve also seen the damage it causes men who never wanted to be an absentee dad.
It seems that dating past age 35 is like a bowl of granola – once you get past the fruits and nuts, all you have left are the flakes. The single life is hard. It’s hard financially, it’s hard emotionally. It’s lonely. Trust me – you do not want to be out here. For all the “freedom” I have as a single woman, I would trade it to be part of a loving partnership. I have to believe there are good men out there. I have to believe that it’s possible. I don’t know why God hasn’t seen fit to send that special man into my life (and believe me, I have asked), but if and when that happens, I will guard and protect that relationship with every fiber of my being. I just don’t understand women who take a good man for granted.
So if you’re lucky enough to have a good man, be grateful – and stay grateful.
Disclaimer: I know there are selfish men who do the same thing to women, but those are kind of easy to spot out here in the dating world. I know I don’t want one of those!