The more I talk to married and divorced people, the more I want to conclude that whether a marriage will last or break up is largely determined by the woman. I’m not “blaming” women; I just find that men in a committed relationship are better at accepting things even if it’s unhealthy. It’s like when a guy has something like giant boils all over his body and yet he claims, “I don’t need a doctor; I’m fine. I’ll walk it off.” Clearly, that isn’t the medical solution needed at that time, but it doesn’t matter. The guy would rather pretend he’s fine. The same thing can happen in relationships: “We’re fine; she’s just a little mad. If she really wanted to kill me, she would’ve taken more lessons at the gun range so she didn’t miss.” Most men would be content staying with their partner even if they never talked to each other; in some cases, this would even be preferred because that would mean they weren’t “fighting”. Women, on the other hand, they generally don’t put up with things being so unhealthy. They’re the ones saying, “There’s something wrong; I need to see a doctor.” When it comes to long term relationships, they’re also the ones saying, “There’s something wrong.” The variable is what comes next: “There’s something wrong…” “…we are done,” “…we need a counselor,” or “…we need to get married,” or if they’re married then it’s “…we need to have a baby.” Women won’t put up with things being unhealthy. They may do things that make the situation worse (e.g. getting married or having a baby to “fix” the relationship), but at least they’ll try something. Ultimately, a woman will determine whether the relationship will last a long time in two main ways:
1) She will pick a good guy (yes, they exist)
2) She will acknowledge he’s a good guy (you should only acknowledge this if he is a good guy)
In many cases a relationship doesn’t last because a woman picks a lousy guy. You ladies know what I mean. Every woman has been with or has a friend who’s been with a guy she later realized is a real turd bucket. The second step is the most important, however, because a good guy can be changed. A major cause of this is a guy whose partner never acknowledges his good qualities. Instead, he is stuck in an endless loop of criticism and increased demands where nothing he does seems to make his partner happy. Quite often, if a guy can’t make his partner happy he’ll eventually give up. This often leads to him either turtling (i.e. hiding in some way) or becoming the jerk she made him feel he was. I would argue that my parents’ marriage worked so well because my mom passed both of these categories: My mom married a good guy and she encouraged him to continue being a good guy. My dad wasn’t perfect; oh, he wasn’t, but was a good guy. There were even things he did he later admitted were dumb – we all have those things – but instead of feeling like a victim and/or attacking him, my mom did her best to be positive with him as she smoothed some of his male edges, which ultimately helped him become an even better guy for her. This, in turn, led to a very healthy relationship where he continued to try to make her happy until he died. This seems to be the common factor in all of the healthy marriages I see: the woman marries a good guy and acknowledges her man is a good guy so he becomes an even better guy who strives to make his wife happy all of his life.
I have to admit this thought that women are largely in control of a relationship lasting or not is terrifying for me as a man because I know that no matter what I do, no matter how good I am, if my partner doesn’t choose to see the good in me, I’m in trouble. Of course, if this is true then you could argue that a relationship lasts because of one feature:
**The guy chooses the right girl.
To be honest, I hope someone can prove this idea wrong. Unfortunately, I keep seeing this pattern in relationships ending: a girl either dates a booger-head (that’s a technical term) or she ends up making it seem like she’s with a booger-head. It really is a wonder why monasteries and convents aren’t more popular.
This week may we all strive to be better at seeing the good in those around us.
Rev Chad David, www.ChadDavid.ca, learning to love dumb people