A Self Magazine essay by an anonymous author entitled “I Married the Wrong Guy” has been recirculating through social media. In the essay, the writer says after a stream of boyfriends unwilling to commit, she had met a guy who seemed to be an absent-minded scientist/techie who seemed to be a better bet for the husband and 1.5 kids route.
She eventually presented the marriage ultimatum and they seem to have had a rather tumultuous go of it after the first kid was born. When she was pregnant with kid number 2, she found a text between her husband and another woman. The writer shot off a missive to the woman to say “stay away” and had a talk with her husband, who admitted he wasn’t feeling especially valued by his wife. The couple seems to have worked things out at least temporarily.
Plenty of women (and more than likely a fair share of men) play the “find a willing candidate for the other side of the marital bed” game, putting the end game way ahead of the actual person. I visualize this as that toddler toy where you hammer in the corresponding shape. We’ve all watched a frustrated kid try to push a square peg into a circle.
You know, kind of like a woman trying to make a good marriage with the wrong guy?
The path to marriage might not be so different. Girls have long been socialized to “say yes to the dress.” Who among us didn’t have a Barbie in bridal regalia?
We watch rom-coms in the hope we might one day experience a meet-up that leads to the realization that he’s “The One.” We use our list of “must haves” to search Match.com for the guy who fits our preconceived idea of perfection. He must be at least 6-foot-tall, have a graduate degree, and possess his own hair and teeth.
Since you’re reading this article, you’re probably divorced from the wrong guy and have vowed to lets things happen organically rather than trying to cast a co-star the next time around. But old habits are hard to break. You may not be focused on the ring on your finger with such a sense of urgency. Life has become more complicated. You may have kids. Perhaps you’re focused on getting your career back on track. You’ve learned from your missteps.
But, online dating pushes us into the paint by numbers approach. We get to filter our searches for everything from appearance and age to profession, education and interests. If we build it, it will come.
When we try to force the square into the circle, replete with ultimatums, we likely end up in a dysfunctional relationship, with an onslaught of arguments and slammed doors. Ideally, our relationships, whether marriage or friendship, challenge us to be better and not worse versions of ourselves (or the shape-shift that happens when we try to accommodate our potential partner’s wants). Authenticity should be at the root of all our relationships to avoid the post-marital bait and switch.
If one is less than thrilled with a partner, there’s a tendency to nitpick at every grievance. We all want to be valued, especially by our partners. The above writer’s husband looked elsewhere for that appreciation, which I suspect isn’t all that unusual.
Marrying “the wrong guy” or woman happens when we place the role ahead of the person. If you’re questioning whether you really love that person standing at the end of the aisle (or the one walking down), perhaps it’s best to walk away. Beginning your marriage minus the passion and love is like starting somewhere at the bottom or hovering around the middle and hoping things get better. Sure, love and relationships change, but you need a foundation to grow.
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