US social worker and writer Jennifer Gauvain in her Huffington Post column recently wrote that 30 per cent of women ‘‘dated and eventually married the wrong guy’’.
She sent a survey to divorced women, asking: ‘
‘Did you know you were making a mistake as you were walking down the aisle?’’
Within days their in-boxes were jammed as close to 1000 women gave detailed accounts about why they knowingly dated and eventually married the wrong guys.
These were some of the reasons: ‘‘The self-imposed biological clock is starting to tick a little louder.’’ ‘‘Marriage will make the relationship better.’’ ‘It’s my last chance to get married and no one else will come along.’’
‘‘If it doesn’t work out I can always get a divorce.’’
And a lot of women make the same mistake the second time around, too, motivated by loneliness, fear, physical needs, or the difficulty of bringing up kids alone.
I’m pondering all this now as a divorced woman. My current partner and I have been together quite a while but have only just taken the plunge of moving in, which is a de facto marriage after all. Why do I think it would be different this time? It’s not like he couldn’t be ‘‘the wrong guy’’. There are enough issues to sink us: step-kids, ex’s, two very different cultures to navigate.
There are co-dependencies — things I make him do that I should do, and vice versa. There are the usual teething problems when lovers move in. ‘‘Oh! You look like THAT in the morning?’’
But I’ve grown to realise that ‘‘wrong’’ in relationships is a state of mind. Expectation has a lot to do with it. I’ve changed. I don’t have the peachy views of a 29-year-old. Also, we are not growing kids together — rather, getting our own through their last teenage years, and we will soon have freedom for frivolity. Finally, we’ve worked on ourselves and can say things like ‘‘I’m sorry I’m putting my stuff on you’’ or ‘‘I take responsibility for causing that’’. Yes, we really do! Thirty years of therapy between us and you’d kinda hope there’d be some self-awareness.
But, most importantly, there’s gratitude. We had both been alone a long time. We both like the joy of two. And we’re both grateful for the love. Maybe that’s the key to relationship success. Knowing the truth. No one is going to be right, not really. But if you don’t make them wrong, then you’ve married the right person.
I’ve also always reckoned that if you are happy 35 per cent of the time; average 35 per cent of the time and unhappy 30 per cent of the time, that’s the right combo 70 percent is a good.
What’s your view?
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