By Joseph Leavitt
"Fast forward a few years to a blind date where I indeed met the love of my life, Andrea. I did tell my dear friend who engineered this meeting that I would rather have hot oil poured up my nose than go on a blind date."
First, let me say by way of introduction, I am a guy, and by no means an expert on women. In fact, my ignorance on the subject, as is the case with most men, is rather profound. I am not a therapist, but like all of you, I have opinions. Those opinions were formed based on the fact my mother was a woman, my wonderful stepmother is a woman, my two grandmothers were women, my two sisters are women, my foster sister is a woman, the women I dated were women, the cheerleaders at my high school were women, I have an ex-wife who was a woman I wish I’d never met, and I am now married to the best woman in the world and have been for some twenty years.
Women are marvelous creatures. I love them. So, I should think given the previous list of factoids, I might just have a thing or two to say about the opposite sex. And, if everyone would just live according to my philosophy and opinions, the world would be a better place; boring, but better!
There’s a song performed by the character Henry Higgins in Lerner and Lowe’s classic musical “My Fair Lady” called “I’m an Ordinary Man”. Some of the lyrics go as follows: “Let a woman in your life And you invite eternal strife Let them buy their wedding bands For those anxious little hands... I'd be equally as willing for A dentist to be drilling than to ever let a woman in my life...I shall never let a woman in my life.” Well, no offense to Lerner and Lowe, but Henry Higgins is little more than a narcissistic dolt when it comes to things that really make life worthwhile.
Ever since God created Adam and Eve and placed them in the Garden of Eden, it was decreed that man and woman belonged together. A successful marriage is where the roots of true happiness are found. As Paul said, “...neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man...” I know there is plenty of anecdotal evidence to the contrary, and bashing marriage is the stuff of many a stand-up routine, but I have anecdotal evidence of my own, which of course, I am not shy about sharing.
Originally, the character of Henry Higgins was created by George Bernard Shaw. That should tell you something right there. Shaw was a despicable human being.
He did marry but never consummated the union, and was no stranger to extra-marital affairs with other women on a pretty much constant basis. His mother ran off with her voice teacher and left his father high and dry. So, it is little wonder that Shaw and his created character’s view of having a relationship, let alone a successful one with the opposite sex, would be somewhat skewed. It is a big deal when a man and a woman decide to unite their two lives.
It is also a good deal. If one desires to make a go of this union and not become a statistic, he/she must compromise. Not a compromise of personal values, but of always having things his or her way. I have heard all of my life, especially from guys that they are too set in their ways to make room for a woman in their lives.
I humbly submit if you are so short sighted and lazy, and commitment-phobic that you buy into this line of thinking and fail then to invest in your future happiness, by accepting a mate, then you truly are an idiot!
There is a significant “L” word involved with any successful relationship; love.
The word gets touted about like a volleyball being smacked back and forth over a net by barefoot; bikini-clad, tanned Amazons on a sandy beach. We hear things in pop culture like love hurts, love stinks, love is grand, love is blind, love me tender, love American style, love on the rocks, the Tunnel of Love, Love Canal, and my personal favorite, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” That last one, by the way, is a load of crap. I have receipts from florists for bouquets sent to my wife by way of apology to prove my assessment.
Love is so very multi-faceted, defining it is a Herculean task; nevertheless, here’s love as defined by yours truly: lust, deep affection, and friendship. These definitions are based solely on my experience. You may use your own inferior definition, when you’re the one on the other side of the keyboard.
The first aspect of our “L” word is eros or lust; aka hormones.
Now don’t gasp in shock. Frankly, there has to be some type of physical attraction. While this is not the primary element, it does play a part, but certainly is not the most salient. This is the front runner generally so that the other more significant aspects of love can come into play. Relationships based solely on chemistry tend to fizzle out as real life sets in. As film star, Rita Hayworth mused, “They go to bed with Gilda, they wake up with me.” I found this out the hard way.
I once dated and fell head over heels in lust with a girl named Bunny. (Bunny? Are you serious? That’s a train wreck just waiting to happen!) Bunny had long blond hair, and was aesthetically pleasing to the eye. My mouth watered like Pavlov’s salivating dog whenever she was around. All she had to do was say my name, and I was like, “Arf, arf,” with my tail wagging.
Unfortunately, the relationship only existed on my side. I was just someone with whom to have dinner until the guy she really loved came around. When she gave me the old heave-ho, it hurt for a long time. You would think I’d learned my lesson from that experience. But no-o-o-o-o-o-o! A couple of years after this, I fell hard for a pair of big brown eyes and a southern accent. My mother told me I lit up like a Christmas tree whenever this femme fatale was in close proximity to me. I married this one deluding myself that this time it was true love. Hah! It was lust all over again.
This was yet another woman who couldn’t see me for sour apples. I was absolutely Pavlovian again in this relationship; a puppy pining for a pat on the head or any sign of affection. Alas, she only saw me as a convenient vehicle to legitimize a pregnancy she was concealing that I had nothing to do with, nor knew anything about. She left me promptly after a miscarriage and cleaning out the bank account. She did call on her way out of town to say, “I don’t love you, and I never have!” Gee, that was just swell! Ninety days later, we were divorced.
I was now alone and bitter. (I often had vivid fantasies about her and her family going over a cliff in their car and bursting into flame as they plunged to their well-deserved deaths. The best part of the fantasy was that I would then go to the funeral and sing, “Ding, Dong, the Witch is Dead.”) I had truly now learned the hard way the harsh reality of what can happen when one enters into a relationship based solely on hormones.
The next aspect of love is perhaps the most crucial.
It’s the falling head-over-heels in love; the amour. the deep devotion for and the longing to be one physically, emotionally, and spiritually with the object of your affection. Granted, this does overlap some with the first aspect of attraction. This is when you are totally whipped and you make everyone around you nauseous because you are apt to quote or write bad poetry and say things like, “You complete me,” which make even the most cast iron of stomachs disgorge their contents. Years ago, I would occasionally pick up the phone to find my foster brother speaking sweet nothings to his girlfriend. I couldn’t hang up fast enough.
I was afraid if I eavesdropped a moment longer I would require an insulin shot, or worse I might be bitten and poisoned by the love bug to the point I’d willingly listen to Bobby Goldsboro singing “Honey” on the stereo. (I absolutely despise that song. It has always had an ill effect on my lower digestive tract.) I thought if I had to be that ridiculous, then I would just remain a bachelor for life.
I had steeled myself and hardened my resolve to never fall in love. No way was I going to sit on the sofa in ambient light with my one and only while we tickled each other’s tonsils with our tongues listening to the Captain and Tennile singing “Muskrat Love.” (I actually sat next to Toni Tennile years ago at a “Messiah” Sing-along at the Music Center in Los Angeles. She’s a lovely person; great alto voice as well.)
Since God has implanted in each of us an overwhelming drive to propagate the species, my steely resolve not to fall in love, wilted in light of those God-given urges, as evidenced by my aforementioned anecdotes. And, when I met my great and true love, I knew instantly we were destined to make beautiful music together! Speaking of music, I was glad she hated “Muskrat Love” and “Honey” as much as I did. We were more apt to listen to Judy Collins, Journey, and ABBA.
I found when I was with her I was just as corny, ridiculous, and nauseous-making as the best of them. I never said, “You complete me”, but I did try speaking French to her once. I wanted to say, “You fill up my heart. You are the apple of my eye.” It came out something like, “You fill up my large intestine. Your mother is a potato.” She informed me at that point as far as French goes, I should just stick with French fries and French kissing. Falling in love with someone and all the falderal that goes with it is a wonderful thing, especially with the right person.
The third aspect of love is friendship.
This element in the love equation is essential and is usually relegated to the back burner when all of the mad passionate stuff is happening with the other two. But, I would ask when the passion tapers off a bit as it is wont to do, the honeymoon ends as it must, and you emerge from your love coma and awaken to face the reality of real life, what then?
What are you going to talk about? Do you have anything in common? Your answer might be to put blinders on, ignore irritations you are feeling, the awkward silences, and just fall back on sex and passion as I did with my ex. But, these things cannot always be employed to fill the void, especially when she thinks you suck at romantic activities anyway.
Trust me, love does not conquer all. Falling in love is easy, and the unfortunate truth is that falling out of love can happen just as easily. I had a couple of good friends who were married for some three years when they had their first fight. Instead of working things out, they divorced.
In my own case, by the time my ex-wife left me, I was ready to strangle her and frankly fairly hated her. This all took place in eight weeks of being together. We were virtual strangers and had certainly not developed a friendship. We had absolutely nothing in common, and had little to talk about beyond the grocery list. We watched a lot of television, so we wouldn’t have to talk to each other. It was pathetic. Neither of us cared about the other enough to even fight. I just continued to let her ridicule me and make me miserable. I stayed away from the house as much as possible.
When I finally couldn’t take it anymore and gave voice to my irritations, she basically told me to go to Hell. My love for her at that point turned to loathing. We had certainly not taken the time to get to know each other and become friends, and when our marriage went pear shaped I was not willing for that to happen anyway. We parted bitter enemies.
Fast forward a few years to a blind date where I indeed met the love of my life, Andrea; I did tell my dear friend who engineered this meeting that I would rather have hot oil poured up my nose than go on a blind date. I did finally acquiesce to her pressure. She knew Andrea and I were destined to be together because we both owned a full set of the Rocky and Bullwinkle videos; something in common right off the bat!
The initial attraction was there for both of us, and as I said, I knew instantly that we were going to be together forever. I did not want to make the same mistakes I had in the past. We took the time to really get to know each other and fell helplessly in like. We became each other’s best friend. The passion and deep devotion was a natural outgrowth of our friendship. Once we got married, we were then loving devoted best friends with benefits; gotta’ love those benefits! It was friendship that got us through waking up in the morning and finding neither of us had minty fresh breath. Rather, the smell which emanated upon opening our mouths in the morning, was as if small gerbils had crawled into our snoring, gaping maws during the night and perished there.
It was also this friendship that gave us common ground, something to talk about, and the desire to forgive each other when we had differences. A solid base of friendship helps you get through finding your bathroom is now the Hanging Garden of Babylon for pantyhose and other delicates and that maxi pads are now a part of the bathroom’s decor. (I once directed a production of “Amahl and the Night Visitors." At that time, my sister-in-law and her son were living with us. I cast my nephew as a shepherd. Kneeling on the stage hurt his knees. I promised to get knee pads for him. Being the resourceful kid that he was, he grabbed a couple of his mom’s maxi-pads from the bathroom and tied them to his knees. I can’t remember ever laughing so hard. The kid sure knew how to think outside the box.)
Friendship helps you overcome the irritation when you reach for a tube of toothpaste and find out you have loaded your brush with Monistat 7 instead of Crest. Friendship helps your wife overcome her irritation that your clothes always end up on the floor by the hamper instead of in it, and that it is not in your DNA to put the toilet seat down or to rinse out the glass from which you’ve eaten your cereal, or hundreds of other little things.
So kids, here’s the deal, for the love of all that is holy, make sure that you are marrying your best friend, then all three aspects of love can work together to insure that you and your spouse are bonded happily together for the rest of your lives and beyond. Women, as I said are great. I am so glad that I lucked out and have my love and soul mate with whom to share my life’s journey. She is indeed my rock, my best friend, my best critic, my filter as I have a tendency for the inappropriate, there isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for her, and most importantly she laughs at all my bad jokes.
Marriage with true love in all its elements is worth all the sacrifice, compromise, and adjustments necessary to make it work.
At least, that’s my humble opinion.