Thursday, July 26, 2007

Enough is Enough

Note: Profanity follows. Sue me. I’m in a snit. And, clearly, this entry refers to heterosexual relationships. I’d be interested to hear from our GLBT contingent on who gets the blame in their relationships.---Doxy

When a marriage goes sour, whose fault is it?

In addition to my own story, a number of my blog pals are in unhappy domestic situations at the moment. Based on some blog comments I’ve seen lately, the disintegration of a marriage appears to be—as usual—all the fault of the woman involved. The thing that shocks me is that so many of those comments appear to be coming from feminist women!

Among the comments I’ve read, one concluded that our relationship with our intimate partners is a reflection of our relationship with God. Presumably that means that—if our marriages are rocky—our relationship with God must be rocky as well.

I am tempted to ask, however, in which direction that causal arrow points? And if our spouses abuse us, does that mean that God is an abusive bastard (since, after all, our intimate relationships reflect our relationship with God)? Or does it mean that we deserve what we get in our intimate relationships, because…after all…God is God and can do whatever/demand whatever He wants and we are required to comply?

I’ve also read that every marriage has rocky periods, and it is our job to pray our way through them. While I agree that all marriages have ups and downs and that prayer is an important part of addressing those difficult times, I don’t believe I’ve ever seen anyone mention the responsibility of our partners to do the same. What do you do when your partner doesn’t pray? And what do you do when your prayers about your relationship seem to come back marked “Return to Sender”?

And just how many years of rocks are we supposed to endure before we finally conclude that the “period” has become permanent? Does “til death do us part” mean that you have to spend years—or decades—in abject misery? Do you get an extra star in your crown in heaven for the amount of suffering and misery you’ve endured in your intimate relationships?

If so, I think Christianity may be the wrong religion for me.

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Now it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that I’m personalizing general comments to my own situation. My sputtered “But! But! But!” is probably little more than rationalization of my own choices.

BUT.

I’m sick and tired of women being responsible for every-fucking-thing in the world—especially where relationships are concerned. If things aren’t hunky-dory, we are expected to fix them ourselves, or learn to live with the relationship as-is.

Why do we---and I mean women, men, feminists, etc.---let men off the hook for making the relationship work? When did the hard emotional work of committed relationships become the exclusive responsibility of those of us with vaginas?

Too often, I hear “Men are not brought up to talk about their feelings.” “Men are hardwired to want to act, not emote.” “They just can’t help themselves, bless their little hearts.”

I call “Bullshit!”

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There’s an old saying: “Every dog has his day.” Someone recently added “…even the bitches.” Well, this “bitch” (and you can take that any way you like…) has had enough of the sexist thinking about relationships. I’m turning the tables on you guys. It’s up to YOU to make US happy, for a change. Two million years of making it our responsibility to keep you happy is enough.

Men---listen up. Different women want different things, of course. But I feel pretty confident in saying that most women want to be cherished. We want to know that you think we hung the moon and stars. We want to know you think we are beautiful and sexy---even with the crows’ feet and baby-weight-that-never-disappeared and stretch marks. We want to know that you find us intelligent and scintillating company, despite the fact that we have just read Goodnight Moon for the umpty-millionth time, instead of Dostoyevsky or even the latest Oprah pick.

We do not want all our shortcomings catalogued when you are angry about something. We do not want to be yelled at, condescended to, or patronized. We do not want to be compared to other women (especially your mother) and found wanting. We do not want to be lectured about the way we handle money, or parent our children, or keep the house (and just what have YOU done lately to help out?).

We simply want to be loved, valued, and appreciated---in ways that are meaningful to us, not ways you think should be meaningful. Try asking us what makes us feel cherished.

And then, Just Do It.

No matter whether you think what we want is silly or unreasonable (within limits, of course). Do it because you love us and want us to know that you listened.

The marriage you save may be your own.

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As for the rest of you….if you don’t live in someone else’s marriage, may I bluntly suggest that you keep your moralizing about relationships to yourself? You aren’t the one paying the price, and---no matter how much you think you know---you probably only know a very small piece of the story.

I say this in Christian love, of course.

Offer to pray. Let the person in question vent. Be a shoulder to cry on. And please remember, because this is important---Listening does not make you complicit in anyone else’s decisions.

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By now, you are probably wishing I had kept to blogging about Jasper. But he said to tell you that he agrees wholeheartedly with me---and that he’ll bite you if you give me too much grief.

And I have to tell you...sometimes a good rant does make you feel better...