This morning, I woke early. So early in fact, I almost forgot it was Saturday! I decided to roll back over and try to go back asleep. The sand man quickly showed up, bringing me a dream about a hunk of a man cooking breakfast. I could smell the pancakes, bacon, eggs and fresh brewed coffee. He was about 6’1″, dressed in jeans, a flannel shirt with each sleeve rolled up to the elbow, wearing a full apron so as not get any spills on his clothes and barefoot. Truly the best part of waking up…until reality hit, abruptly jolting me awake, as a voice said, ‘That is what got you into trouble to begin with.’
When I first met my ex, I was 18 and he was 27. At that age, I perceived my ex as a guy full of wisdom, one who had the financial stability to take care of me, one who would pick up every piece of my brokenness and put it back together and one who would make my story turn into a fairy tale ending. Now, I have no idea how he perceived me as when we met, I was wearing jeans, a rather large t-shirt showcasing the #81-the year I graduated from high school, and no make up. Matter of fact, the first thing I noticed about him was how sexy his butt looked in his jeans. How shallow could I have been?!?!? (I am not ashamed to admit, I still notice a guy’s assets of wearing tight jeans, but I also realize there is a much bigger picture framing those assets.)
We dated for 4 years before marrying. During that time, my ex paid for everything. We went out to fancy restaurants, kept Thursday open for movie night, continued attending Christian retreats on the weekend and periodically traveled to Chicago to visit his family. We definitely, both of us, were on our best behavior, never revealing our true selves or showing an inch of vulnerability. Looking back, it really was a whirlwind type of romance, where fantasy drove the relationship. It wasn’t till after we had been married for a couple of years, reality showed up causing the masks of ourselves, trying to impress, to come down. And as our true selves emerged, the happy fantasy life we experienced during dating ended.
Here is what I believe was one aspect contributing to the demise of our marriage, the perception of how the other person should be versus who the other person really was. You see, even though we had dated other people, neither of us had allowed ourselves to grow, discovering who our true selves were, realizing the difference between unconditional love and conditional love, learning not to change the other person but change out attitude towards them, and not being afraid to reveal the true essence of ourselves to each other without facing rejection or judgment. Plus, neither of us had not been taught the inner tools to keep a relationship healthy nor how to make it survive.
Throughout my school age years, I attended public school. Fifth grade marked the year sex education was taught, without parents being notified. My mom remembers me coming home, saying ‘Mom, if you tell me this is true, I will believe it.’ Yes, in those days, 5th grade was still an age of innocence. Yet, after that, innocence flew out the window as middle school and high school, sex education continued with teachings delving into types of birth control, lessons on how the female body as well as the male body functioned and even lugging around a raw egg as a ‘substitute’ baby. Nowadays, I understand the same types of lessons still exist but what I believe needs to also be touched upon is some type of class focusing on relationships. It should be a mix of divorced couples, long married couples, newlyweds, unwed mothers, single people and single parents. It should also include pastors, marriage counselors and a psychologist. This may help instill, especially in young teens, the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships, as well as red flags indicating when a person is not the ‘right’ one. It also may benefit a person in realizing their worthiness resulting in not settling for less than what they deserve.
I don’t regret marriage. I have two wonderfully, handsome boys, now adults, who I am extremely proud of. However, I do occasionally experience moments when I wonder how long my marriage would have lasted, if I knew then what I kn0w now. But just as those doubts creep in, my intuition reminds me things had not changed or gotten better for years and staying was not going to make a difference.
As for my fantasy man…he sure makes my dreams fun!!! But, when I am wide awake, I know real life is much more preferable to a fairy tale. Today, I don’t need a man to make me happy…I already am. I don’t need a man to fix my brokenness…I have and continue to heal myself. I don’t need a man to financially take care of me…I am doing fine. And I don’t need a man to rescue me…God and Jesus have done that. As for companionship? It would be nice. But I don’t waste my life wishing or yearning for it. As a result, my life is more peaceful due to drama being voided out and trouble being washed away. I have all I need to be happy and content, which I know is a lot more than most people who are in a relationship. And I am grateful for every lesson I am learning, for growing up into a semi-adult, for learning to love who I was and who I have become and for having to struggle in order to find out how strong I really am.