Sometimes I get angry at myself. I look at my marriages and I think of all of the mistakes that I made. I think of all the pain that I caused by jumping into things and not thinking them through, and the lessons that pain has surely taught people. It does not feel good to be the one who caused that pain, even if it resulted in growth in the other person. Sometimes you get what’s going around and sometimes you are what’s coming around. That expression takes on a bittersweet meaning in our case, and what’s coming or going seems to be so destructive at the time. But volcanic eruptions leave behind extremely fertile lands allowing what was destroyed to grow back more beautiful than ever. I can pinpoint the source of most of these events down to a single mindset that I held each and every single time; the settling mindset.
With my first wife I was homesick, lonely, and depressed. Our relationship was never “fiery” or “passionate” but we had fun for the most part. I missed the memo where you don’t make relationships that are “fun” into marriages and I was over committed and in over my head. I had settled for someone with entirely different viewpoints on major issues and a completely different way of life than mine. Add to that to in-laws who REALLY didn’t like me and a lukewarm family reception and things weren’t off to a good start. A large lack of of trust and intimacy meant that the marriage didn’t last long before we were very unhappy. Add deception into the mix and we stood no chance. She was not the type of girl for me. She was emotionally distant and unfeeling on a lot of issues. She would tell me that she didn’t think “I could make it” in certain situations concerning my chosen profession (and sometimes life in general). I was never perfect, but I had abstained from offering remarks like that. I had settled on too many things to be with someone when I was just afraid of being alone.
In hindsight I may have settled for even more in my second marriage. How is it that we become so adept at lying to ourselves in the wake of such destruction? Why is it that we take a microscopic view of things instead of a macroscopic? Why do we look specifically at the few good traits and ignore the mountain of bad ones? In the case of my last wife there were a lot of red flags. Now, I didn’t have an epiphany and suddenly realize that she was not great for me. I came to this through therapy as I worked through my relationship with my counselor. I was still dedicated to making things work until he brought my perspective to an objective level regarding what I saw as positive relationship events. When I stepped back and looked at what she and I constructed for a relationship I was a little appalled. I had made similar mistakes although they were not because I didn’t want to be alone. I looked at the traits that I liked and I put too much emphasis on them because I thought that that was what I deserved. Hindsight is 20/20.
Never again. I will not settle for anything in a relationship again. If something is a deal breaker I will try to reach a compromise but I will not leave something like that without being discussed. If a compromise can’t be reached than the hard choice must be made. It’s a wiser, albeit more painful way to live but the dating world is a painful place. I am keeping my eyes open in this new relationship to see if there is something that I am settling for and so far I have been extremely pleased. The new woman has shown me things that I didn’t even know I needed. Things that might be done without a thought on her part but leave a lasting impact on me. It’s good to feel like this again, and I am excited to see where it goes.
Better days ahead everyone! Even if they take the long way around.
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