I love men. I’ve loved them from the time my father loved me, to the day he left us when I was five; and I’ve continued to love men as they each — one by one – have taken my father’s place along the way until I married my husband, Bill, eighteen years ago.
Marriage is a funny thing. You jump into a union, giddy as hell because you’re with that one person who makes your toes curl. But not too many years after that walk down the aisle, our husbands show an imperfection (while we, of course, remain completely perfect), and those imperfections begin to build and build until we think we might go mad if he leaves that cereal bowl in the sink one more time without rinsing it out (are ya listening, Bill?!).
Pretty soon, we build up a long list of grievances: everything from the fact that they leave their (fill in the blanks) hairs in the sink/clothes on the floor/the toothpaste tube gooping up our hairbrush, all the way to the fact that they actually have a life (fill in the blanks): they play golf/work/watch way too much ESPN/nap on the weekends, etc.
When we first get married, we want to be with our husbands all the time, but unfortunately we let life get in the way and we morph into wanting them mostly when we need something (fill in the blanks): the trash taken out/a mad last-minute dash to the supermarket for parsley/long, lugubrious talks about our relationship during the broadcast of Tiger Woods at the 18th hole during the British Open, etc.
Someone once asked me if I loved my husband, because when I spoke about my life, I never used the word “we.” The conversation unnerved me and I spent weeks reflecting on it, calling friends who couldn’t talk because, “We’re going to the store,” or “We have plans,” or “We need to stay home today,” which just underlined how much I really do love my husband. Bill allows me to be exactly who I need to be, when I need to be that person. I can be perfect, hugely imperfect, kind, a neurotic mess, a strong woman, a cry baby, a great mother, a mother who just knows she’s completely ruining the life of her child, and I can be completely with him but still just be me, Sarah, with no extra bells and whistles and “we’s” attached.
Bill is the perfect man for me, and I am the perfect wife for him — not because I’m perfect (far from it), but because he wouldn’t want me any other way than the way that I am right now, this very minute.
Marriage, if done right, is a long ride — sometimes you want to get off at the next exit or pull over in the emergency lane to read the map, and, naturally you’re married to someone who would rather grow breasts than to ask for directions; but if we’re lucky, we stay on the road and find our way to where we need to be — hopefully which is 50 years down the way, still together, with a better knowledge of why we took the trip in the first place. Those of us who didn’t take the exits know the ride was worth the trip.
Sometimes I think about the exits I might have taken in my marriage and just the thought makes me lose my breath. Had I not stayed on this road with Billy, I probably would have ended up a “we,” with someone who didn’t really get me.
Bill, he gets me. And, I suspect, most women have (or have had) a man who gets them, too, because there is a legion of good men in this world, all willing to take the trip and not ask for directions – not because they want to be in control, but because they realize that once behind the wheel, they’ll have precious little chance at ever having control again, so why even bother looking at a map. While women are busy trying to look for all the signs, men know they just want to be on the road with us… that’s enough for them.
And that’s why I love men.