Definition: Steadfast in affection or allegiance
I've been reading Beck's musings about basis of comparision. It has engendered some interesting emotional and analytical responses within me. I lean more to the analytical side, spending a great deal of time there, and I realized this morning, that I do so because the emotional responses (and memories linked to them) are painful. So in the interest of introspection, I am searching through my emotions today, and all that is linked to them.
For some reason I still do not understand, the Lord loves me. I know this for several reasons, but chief among them is that I was able to meet and marry my husband--and he will be the main focus of my musings.
There have been numerous miracles in my life. I think Darrin is definitely one of them. In twenty years of marriage there has never been a HINT of infidelity from him. Quite the opposite. He has always made it very clear that he's in love with me--every day. That's roughly, about 7450 days. The only thing I've had to compete with for his attention is good, European chocolate, and since that's a passion we both share, it doesn't seem to get in the way. Honestly, I don't understand why he's still in love with me after all this time. It's not like we've had a life of amazing marital bliss. Our marriage has had MANY up/downs, twists/turns, conficts/resolutions--and most of those have been centered around me and my deficits.
I've talked to my female friends who have been married about as long as I have. Most of them can't say that there has never been a time when their husbands' eyes have strayed. Most have had at least one episodic crisis when love had to be reaffirmed, apologies made, repentance initiated. The actual incidents usually involved things like porn addiction, inappropriate behavior with a co-worker, or just simply desiring another woman, but a few involved adultery--sometimes over an extended period of time and with numerous partners. My friends discuss these things as if it's all part of life, and very normal--after all, they'll say, we're talking about MEN... I'm always confused by that comment. I feel that it's their way of saying the behavior is expected and excusable.
On the other hand, I've had similar discussions with male friends with lengthy marriages. Many of them have had infidelity issues from their wives. They don't talk about those things easily. There is an element of deep betrayal in their voices as they discuss the feelings they experienced during those times. Regardless of how much time has past, they're still hurting, suspicious, and vulnerable. Most of the incidents were actually more innocent than the ones I've discussed with my female friends, and involved flirting, perhaps a stolen kiss, or online/email correspondence. Those that involved adultery have, without exception, ended in divorce--which is not the case with my female friends whose spouses were caught in adultery. Again, I find this confusing.
My own feeling is that if Darrin ever chose to stray, I'd cut him loose without hesitation. I'm not sure why I feel that way--maybe because I expect the same standard from him that I demand of myself. I've never been able to make concessions for bad behavior based on gender. Darrin and I have both been clear about our expectations of what constitutes full fidelity within our marriage. I wonder if my female friends forgot to explore that option within their marriages. I wonder if there was always some tacit understanding that some degree of male infidelity was expected and excusable, but there were limits on the venial transgressions allowed to the female spouses.
I married Darrin and committed the rest of my life to him. That was pretty scary. But I haven't regretted that decision, even though I haven't exactly sailed easily through the last 20 years. And I've never been tempted to stray--ever. So I've been wondering what makes me different from my friends--my marriage different from theirs--and the following things come to mind:
1. I'm not attracted to men (that's an obvious difference). That makes it easy to resist any flirting that may come my way. It also helps Darrin to never feel territorial or jealous, which I've been told are major male emotions when it comes to their girlfriends and spouses. It also helps me interact easily with men, because I feel no sexual tension--however, Darrin always points out that feeling is one-sided. Men ALWAYS feel sexual tension with other women. "Fat women?" I ask. "Sometimes," he answers. "Ugly women?" I ask. "Sometimes," he answers. "Loud, scary women?" I ask. "Not usually, but sometimes," he answers. Hmmm...so I obviously don't catch any of those signals when I'm with men. So Darrin has been trying to let me know what men do to subtly let women know they find them attractive. I am not a quick study. My little brother was present during one of these "educational" sessions. He does not know I am attracted to women. He listened as Darrin gave me a list of behaviors that I could identify. Then my brother said, "Sam, you've always been oblivious to guys." Then he named four men in our ward that he said had "it" for me (what does that MEAN????). And since all those men were married, it was really kind of disgusting, and even though I didn't believe him, I haven't been able to shake their hands since--THANKS A LOT, LITTLE BROTHER!!
2. Darrin is the ONLY man with whom I've felt safe. That probably makes me less likely to fantisize about being with anyone else--male or female. Safety is something I've craved for most of my life. Darrin makes me feel safe without feeling smothered. I feel protected when I'm with him--and I'm not talking about physical protection. I just know he'll be on my side no matter what, that he'll hold my hand if I'm feeling insecure, and that I'm more important to him than his work, a favorite sport or television program, or any hobby/interest. Even when he was REALLY angry at the situation surrounding my relapse last week--even though he was frustrated with me for being weak--when I was at my lowest point, he pulled me onto his lap, kissed me, and rocked me like a child while I wept. And he still loved me. I find that incredible.
3. Darrin encourages me to try new things, to excel at those I'm good at. I notice many of my friends' husbands put them down or compete with them. Also, some of them make comments like: "Yeah, she's pretty good at her job--wish she was as good at being a mom/wife/homemaker/lover..." Wow...I think if Darrin said anything like that about me there would be hell to pay--but he never would. He comes to every one of my performances--he records them, and watched them again when we get home. He listens to me talk about preparing taxes and investing opportunities with my clients. He tells me he thinks I'm very smart, incredibly beautiful, and he is blessed and lucky to be with me. And even if he's not sincere, how many people can resist hearing nice things about themselves??? I can't... :)
4. Darrin lets me be me--he has NEVER tried to change anything about me. He doesn't understand how I can listen endlessly to 20th century music, switch to Mozart or Beethoven, and end with Fall Out Boy (compliments of DJ needing me to screen just one more song). He hates running and tennis, but indulges my need to do/play both. He takes me to eat at vegetarian restaurants--and occasionally eats the fake meat there. He understands that I don't care for ice cream and watermelon--and that's okay. He doesn't always like the way I dress, but never makes suggestions for how to improve. He never tells me what to do with my hair. He doesn't insist that I wear my wedding rings (it's nearly impossible to practice without being distracted by them, so I only wear them occasionally). He allows me to make low-fat, low-cholesterol food for him, so he won't get heart disease like his parents had at age 40. He lets me laugh at things that really aren't funny. He takes walks with me, even though he'd rather go to a movie. In short--I am never more ME than when I'm with Darrin.
Sometimes I'm glad I don't understand the ins and outs of heterosexuality. It sometimes seems to me that they deal with more infidelity of the mind than I have to. Although, Darrin promises me that not everyone feels the same levels of attraction, and for some (indicating himself) it's easier than for others. I'm not sure if I believe him...but I don't intend to spend much time worrying about it either.
Will my marriage survive another 20 years? With all my heart, I hope so. If, for whatever reason, it doesn't, I know I'll remain single. There's no one else like Darrin. And I'm back to that "basis of comparison" thing. I've tasted what it's like to have a real, positive relationship with someone who knows all the bad stuff about me, who's suffered through some pretty trying times, and who still likes me as a friend, and loves me as a lover. I don't think anything or anyone else can stand up to my basis of comparison. I hope I never have to find out.