Tuesday, November 22, 2011


From my married girlfriends, I gather that everyone pretty much goes through the same thing once they’ve gotten engaged. The woman is excited and ready to march on into the lovely future she’s envisioned for herself and her fiancé, but her fiancé can’t stop looking over his shoulder longingly at his single buddies and tugging at the proverbial leash. The woman begins to plan and nest and settle into the idea of moving forward to the next chapter. The man starts staying out a little later than he should, attaches himself to the lowest common denominator in his group of friends and occasionally gets embarrassingly drunk in front of the wrong group of people. Like many of us do at times in relationships, I foolishly thought B and I would be different.

You see, we both afford each other a great deal of freedom – he does his thing with his friends when he wants to and I do mine.  He still goes to ballgames and drinks beers and spends Sundays watching football and screaming at the screen with a buddy or two. He does steak nights with the guys whenever he likes and goes to concerts 15 times a year. We travel quite a bit and have wonderful adventures – together and apart. He still camps and skis and hikes and explores. We enjoy good food and great music and amazing friends on our free time. We both do well at our jobs so he’s free from the burden of supporting another person. On top of all that, I cook for him, wash his clothes, plan our vacations, sew his buttons, sweep his floors. “What man with that kind of life would feel trapped?” I thought.

Well between turning 40 and our engagement, he was feeling something. He didn’t exactly go nuts, but for about 2 months he pushed our well defined boundaries just a little bit once or twice a week. He’d come in a little later than usual from a baseball game, come home a little rosy-cheeked and blood-shot from a round of golf. There were days when he wasn’t his usual attentive, patient self and a few hangovers that got in the way of our usual farmer’s market Saturday mornings. To him, he was just spreading his wings a little before he gets them clipped. To me, he was breaking “our” rules more often than I had the desire to write-off and his wing-spreading was affecting our routine.  I decided there was no rational need or justification for him to “act out” and so I had no patience for it. After a few strikes, I even told him I was going to have a t-shirt made for all the pissed off fiancées out there. “On the front it will say ‘this is NOT what I signed up for’ and on the back, ‘asshole’.”

I was so busy blowing his harmless transgressions out of proportion that that I didn’t realize I was playing as big a part as he was in rocking the engagement boat. I didn’t want him to behave like “any other man” but I pushed him in that direction by failing to recognize that what was in front of him was overwhelming, and his behavior was normal. I single-handedly turned what could have been a few minor disagreements into a two month long self-fulfilling prophecy.  It’s funny how that happens sometimes; but any stubborn woman will tell you that once you’ve decided something to be true and your emotions get the best of you, it’s a slippery slippery slope. He should have had a t-shirt made for me that said “crazy” on the front and “bitch fiancée” on the back.

With my “I’m right and you’re an asshole” blinders fastened on tight, I didn’t take much time to consider his side of the story. He is about to sign up for 50 years with an ever-evolving species that changes the game every time he learns the rules. He is marrying a woman that is too hard on herself, and often too hard on the people in her life.  He’s facing a lifetime of being held accountable for his actions by someone that isn’t as forgiving as she should be. His “freedom” is on someone else’s terms now. “Go out with your friends whenever you like, but don’t drink too much! And be home at a reasonable hour or sleep on the couch!”

His unbridled adventures have evolved into camping with an air mattress and Whole Foods provisions. Double black diamonds are traded for green runs and tangled skis; hikes are riddled with petty “you don’t want to wait for me? I’ll make you think I fell into a ditch” games.  He is always being nudged into making healthier choices with food, exercise, stress by someone that has high expectations of self-control and discipline.  On top of all that, he is expected to take care of anything to do with the car and  ½ the grocery shopping and chores around the house. This is where I should probably also admit that he even shines my work shoes for me too.

Bottom line? B is an amazing partner and a good man. He’s warm, loving, loyal and entirely non-judgmental.  He’s silent through my hormonally charged moods, patient when I’m tired and cranky. He doesn’t question or comment on the fact that I am not the same woman he met 6 years ago; in fact he rode on the roller coaster of my 20’s right next to me and held my hand through all the ups and downs. He was patient while I worked through major life changes and I couldn’t be patient with him acting out of character for 2 months. He deserved the benefit of the doubt when he needed a little time to adjust to being 40 and engaged.  After all, he accepts who I am and what I do and pays no mind to anything else as long as I love him.  He takes the bad with the good and accepts all of it with that big bright smile on his face. Looks like I could stand to learn from him even when he is being a typical man.