Archive for August 16th, 2010

Re. Thinking.

I am a reader.  I love to read.  And I especially love summertime because the absence of a regular schedule means I have more time to read.  This summer, of course, I got the knuckleheaded idea to take the GRE and effectively ruin several weeks of stress-free read time.  Once I got the GRE studying and general freak-outing out of the way, I reassumed my Summer of Reading. 

Often I have three or four books going at once, since my mood from day to day tends to change.  Sometimes I’m able to really focus on the deep-thinky reading and other times I just need some speedy fiction to not tax my brain.  For all the advice I’ve heard about making your bed a place for sleep or sex only, I find that I cannot really relax unless I read a bit — in bed — before I turn out the lights.  As habits go, I guess that one’s not too bad.  Just don’t quiz me about the other ones.  I will admit to nothing. 

I just finished a book over the weekend titled, “This is Not the Story You Think It Is,” and it’s given me a couple moments of pause. 

Reviews for this book are kind of all over the place, so I guess it’s a good thing I don’t read reviews before I decide to read a book.  I mean, I’ve read some critically acclaimed books that left me sort of meh.  Fabulousity is in the mind of the beholder.  Basically, if it looks interesting and the story appeals to me, I’m in. 

The premise of this book is that of a marriage in crisis, due to the husband coming down with a case of the Midlife Quagmire and deciding he doesn’t love his wife any longer.  Her response to this is to do nothing. 

Having had more than a few friends with spouses gone over the edge, this tactic intrigued me.  Yours Truly would have probably (after a good cry and maybe a bender) toasted my spouse’s ass if this sort of thing came to light in my own marriage.  But instead, this woman decides to take control of her own happiness and leave it to her husband to sort things out on his own.  All without leaving him or throwing him out. 

Honey, I would have changed the locks. 

I suppose that’s something of a knee-jerk reaction, but the gentle way with which this woman handled her situation, focusing on what she could control, made me want to get up and shake some sense into her.  Perhaps I’m not as enlightened.  She encouraged her husband to figure out what it would be that would make him feel whole again, give him a sense of purpose and enjoyment. 

The end result is that the marriage survived this season of discontent, and I suspect the book would not have been published otherwise.  We all like a happy ending.  But it got me to thinking about how people within a marriage are still individuals, even if they’ve been together the better part of 25 years.  And yet, popular thinking is that marriage is a be-all, end-all for its’ occupants, and that both are expected to march in lockstep with one another, whether they want to or not. 

It’s certainly the view of marriage that I’ve had presented to me by my own parents, and they tend to look askance at me and my husband for the way we lead separate lives a lot of the time.  I find that I fall prey to this kind of thinking at my lowest moments, when I feel like wallowing in a pity pit.  No, my husband and I don’t have the same interests.  The things that pass for hobbies for each of us tend to leave the other cold.  And as much as I’d like for my husband to share my enthusiasm for the things that I do (and want to do) I know that it’s not going to happen. 

Of course, he still thinks that I’m going to be all on board for climbing into his four seater Cherokee and taking off into the wild blue yonder, but he is sorely delusional on that front.  I keep telling him that I have no desire.  He keeps thinking I’ll change my mind.  So far we’re at an impasse. 

But this book reminded me that he needs to have that thing, that one part of him that makes him feel alive, and not begrudge him of that.  He is weeks away from acquiring his license, and he wants to celebrate by flying somewhere far-flung for dinner.  Call your mother, I say.  I try not to be cruel about it, but I just really want nothing to do with it.  Enjoy yourself but leave me out of it.  And I’ll do the same for you when I finally scrape together enough money to take sailing lessons. 

— Mox

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