Friday, 19 October 2012
44. 50 shades of green
At 20-something, I was an ardent serial dater but convinced that ‘THE one’ only existed in movies and fairytales. Thrice engaged, friends swiftly tagged me ‘the runaway bride’. But I couldn’t help it as I see-sawed between hurtling towards, and then running screaming from, the white-picket-fence-2.5 kids stereotype of my generation. Fueling my emotional schizophrenia, was my memory of being a bi-product of a union that imploded when my father’s two-timing came to light and a determination to never put myself in a position where I could be similarly cuckolded. And then, I met Matt. And in spite of myself and my fears, I fell head-over-heels (relatively cautiously) and allowed myself to be vulnerable (somewhat reluctantly!).
But for the first few years, I worried. Worried that my older brother would turn out to be right when he ‘sagely’ told me that ALL men cheat because they ‘simply cannot help it’. And the problem was, I often witnessed it myself. At work, wherever I sang, all sorts of men would pursue me with ardent declarations of love (only to cheekily turn up with their wives/girlfriends days/weeks or months later!); or later on, as a mother on the school run, having dads ‘hit’ on me. And I would feign ignorance – if only to avoid the entailing drama! Later I would ask Matt, “Am I SO old fashioned and such a prude that these guys’ behavior bother me?” Was I a prig to measure these situations against whether I would be comfortable with Matt behaving or talking that way with another girl; or how would he feel if I behaved that way? Was I over-reacting by then steering clear of that latest pesky geezer-in-question? But by the time I got to 30-something, it was evident that the cause of marriages collapsing was no longer male-dominated.
Which brings me to the topic de jour: why do some, BOTH men and women, feel that what they have at home is not enough? An acquaintance has recently started texting and going on ‘dates’ with a man she met at a nightclub on a girls’ night out. The problem? 1. She is married with the 'requisite' 2.5 children 2. The ‘other man’ doesn’t know she’s married – and the lies and half-truths just multiply!
Not wanting to play judge nor jury here because nobody knows what goes on behind closed doors, but using this scenario as an example, why do so many dabble with the taboo – be it flirting, ‘hooking up’, or a full blown affaire de Coeur in spite of the nagging feeling there cannot be a happy ending and at least one person will end up devastated. Why the sabotage? Men who say things they shouldn’t and make promises they couldn’t possibly keep because of prior 'commitments', women who risk everything in exchange for a little bit of attention or the ones who romanticise that bastard ex -- perhaps looking to recreate something they read in books like D H Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover or E L James’ Fifty Shades of Grey, to fabricate an ‘exciting’ diversion from what they consider their monotonous and dreary everyday.
This whole ‘grass is greener on the other side’ notion is often fiction at its 'best' because majority of the time, if you climbed over the ‘fence’, there’s a high likelihood that its astro-turf or worse, dyed! Over the years, I’ve had friends (both male and female) whom I’ve had to shake and ask “What were you thinking?”, only to be faced with responses of varying versions of how things weren’t perfect at home and blah, blah, blah.. They forget it takes two to tango.
And so, in spite of some 16 years together, I don’t assume that Matt and I are impervious to the relationship fallout's we have both since witnessed all around us and we try to keep a close eye of the state of our marriage, working very hard to keep things interesting between us. I am no gardener but I DO know that the grass is greener where it is watered, mowed, fertilised and taken care of.