He does the California swing. You follow gracefully. He changes pace with the cha-cha. You follow suit (you have some fabulous moves). He then starts on the tango, and you start to ponder some future moves. He has you in a dazzle of fancy foot work, but you are not paying attention to the other signals he is displaying.
He leaves his wallet in the car; you pay for dinner. He sends back dinners half-eaten, complaining to the waiter it was not to his liking. He wants to go to two films on one ticket. He tells you he thinks going ‘Dutch’ is the cool thing modern women do.. He purchases $400 shoes for himself but gives you a birthday present that looks as if it’s from the “wedding closet.” And he asks if you participate in your company’s 401K program. Hmmmm. What are his actions really telling you?
Two-thirds of married women initiate the divorce process. Women tend to have higher expectations in marriage than their husbands. Women also spend more time thinking about marriage than their counterparts. So much of what goes on between women and men is fueled by fantasy, especially if the woman earns less than the man.
That was certainly true in my first marriage; he was a rising star litigator from Brown Undergrad and the NYU law review — he was very ambitious. When the marriage ended I did not feel I was entitled to alimony, although I wanted it. I thought we would have children and the whole nine yards. Nope. My second marriage was different. He was broke and I had the money. My fantasy was that he would wake up and become ambitious, make the big bucks so I could retire. Nope again.
In both cases, I was “drinking the Kool-Aid” — keeping the fantasy alive because I did not want to be alone and did not want the pressure to make money. I wanted to be taken cared of. I was living in denial. (That was a very expensive lifestyle choice). I had surrendered, given up control to the fantasy. Now that I have two marriages behind me, here are four things I have learned.
- Paying attention may be the most profound form of love, and it’s also a heartbreak saver.
- What you see is what you get. Don’t try to rationalize someone else’s behavior if it’s not to your liking. Don’t sit on your anger.
- TALK! Nothing trumps communication.
- Your instincts don’t lie. Know what you have respect for. Feel entitled to get what you want and deserve.
You may not be marrying him tomorrow, but don’t be blind to what you see today. Put that Kool-Aid down and see the realistic situation you’re in. You’ll thank yourself in the future!
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