As a little girl I thought I had the most perfect parents in the world. As I've gotten older, I've realized that in some ways I was mostly right, but that they aren't- and never were-perfect.
Last night at the Goddard Center, I watched a theatrical production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and as I stood in line to pick up my ticket, I noticed how many elderly couples were there in front of me. As most women can attest, getting a man to go to the theater is something only besotted males will do, because after you've been together a while they revert back to their honest selves, and resist anything unrelated to sports. But what impressed me was that most of the people there were not young couples, but older, tried and true couples, who'd spent a lifetime together.
I began to wonder- did they go to the theater when they were young and he was besotted, or did this love for the performing arts exist over the long years? I know that the only thing my parents have ever done together on a regular basis is to attend church, and though I don't want to share too much of their personal lives, I do know that things aren't always rosy between them. Surely the elderly couples I witnessed last night have had their ups and downs too, right? But they've somehow managed to hang in there when so many other couples aren't able.
Couples have to have interests that grow with their relationships, don't they? Something new that comes along and sparks the light in their eyes. How can you tell before you get married whether or not you'll have the kind of relationship that lasts? I didn't know that I'd suddenly, in my 30s, decide to pursue my master's degree, nor did I know that I would ever consider teaching on the collegiate level. I've loved teaching forever, even during the rough first three years, and now here I am, thinking about moving from the public school area to teach at the college level? I never knew I'd change like that.
I've grown and changed in other ways over the years. It's taken me changing jobs three different times to realize that I've got wanderlust. I don't like staying in one place for too long because I always wonder what else is out there. How could a relationship survive that, especially if I had been with a person who didn't feel the same? And how could either of us know we felt that way, if it's taken me this long to recognize the pattern in myself?
I've been a Christian since I was twelve, and there have been some rock-solid times in my relationship with Christ, but there have also been many times in between where I questioned everything I ever knew about God and the Bible. How do relationships survive the faith roller coster, especially if that's what they were initially based upon?
I say all that to reiterate my earlier question- how does a couple know that they will grow and change together in a compatible manner? So many couples think because they're perfect for a few months that they'll be perfect for a lifetime, but I've seen the opposite happen time and again. Others outside the relationship may be able to recognize their incompatibility, but so few are ever honest about it, and in my own experience, when you are honest to the person "in love," you wind up harming your relationship with your friend, she ignores your advice, and you have to watch her go through some very hurtful life events before your prophecy comes true. And of course at that point she's bitter and hurt that you were right all along...
I read an article entitled "Swan Song: Scientists Claim That True Love Exists," in which one out of every ten mature couples showed a "mate for life" mentality similar to that of swans and foxes. One out of ten?! Every girl I know who wants to get married wants to be the ONE. In fact, in the movie, He's Just Not That Into You, it talked about being the exception to the rule. Every girl wants to be the exception, because the rule is that NINE out of ten couples don't get "happily ever after," if you can believe the Swan article. You don't even have to believe the article to recognize that couples all around you are, if not falling apart, unhappy.
I don't want that. I'd rather continue being happy by myself than miserable with the wrong person. It's not always easy. Valentine's day was a nightmare, thanks to the double date I got stuck on so that my sis wouldn't feel awkward on the "fix up," so naturally I was the one who got to feel awkward. But that was one day out of numerous others. I went to the theatre by myself last night. So what? I enjoyed it, and hey, it gave me something to write about! =)
I don't have a lot of options out there right now when it comes to dating, but I'd like to think that if I did, I wouldn't settle just to be in a relationship. I'm willing to wait around for the one man who makes us the exception, if that's what I have to do. Why shouldn't I? I'm fabulous all. by. my. self!