Since sexuality is the overarching theme between Beltane and Midsummer here in the northern hemisphere, I’m going to return to that blog series I mentioned about discussing boyfriends past. The book I’m writing, Divorcing a Real Witch ((working title)) naturally raises the question, over and over, of where I went wrong. While I like to think that there are no mistakes in relationships, there are plenty. Much of mine came from a misunderstanding of how to conduct myself and how to express my desires. For all my fuck-ups when it comes to love, I’ve also made some smart choices over the years, too. Funny, but I’m only ruled by my hormones when I want to be. Maybe what I say will resonate. Some will be unintentionally funny. But I just want my experience on record, something that developed before we had the Sex and the City trope to draw from.
I think the core decision that made my love life different from the women around me was this: I never, ever set out to get a husband. While that has happened twice now, it was never my core objective. I went into relationships for what I could learn from them, not with an end goal in mind. At first that’s because I didn’t want marriage. While my parents loved each other as far as I can tell, the model they put forth and the model my maternal grandparents put forth made marriage completely unappealing to me. It looked like a con, and often still does to me: men installed women to take care of their needs while the woman eventually faded for lack of sunlight. The modern version of this was to spend half the day starving for light in an office, and the other half starving for light at home. Oh yeah, and the house needed to be cleaned, the kids dressed and dinner had to get on the table somehow. This did not seem to happen with co-habitation arrangements. The unmarried women with live-in boyfriends seemed like the happiest women I knew.
My mother’s loud disapproval when I told her this opinion (her actual words were to shout at me, “I do NOT approve,” suggesting that she rated her approval of much higher relevance than it actually was to me) did not dissuade me. My mother was the unhappiest woman I knew, and in a town like Crown Point, Indiana that’s saying something. The women there are just miserable human beings all around as a rule.
I realize now that my mother’s misery – and likely the mean-spirited behavior of most of the females in that town – stemmed from that very lack of sunlight. With no creative outlets except their children (which is a damned unhealthy place to put your creative energy, as kids are busy doing their own growing) they wound up venting that creativity into rage, passive aggressive behavior and the screwed up social maneuvering that earmarks the town where I grew up to this day. I would call it “hometown” but with that psychological atmosphere, it’s just not home.
But as I’ve aged, I’ve also learned that men are only as bad as women allow them to be. Yes, it’s a vast oversimplification, but I’m not sure how else to express it: at least in the initiatory phases of a relationship women can set exactly how they will be treated or can disengage early and quickly at the warning signs of mistreatment. The earlier it’s done, the easier it is to get a restraining order or have the freak tossed in jail if violence follows. It’s actually one of the evolutionary benefits of being a little bit shallow. Another oversimplification. But I hope you bear with me through the series – perhaps knowing the context will help. What happens though, is that women are convinced to ignore and second-guess their instincts.
While my views on cohabitation have refined quite a bit over the years, I am glad I chose that path. I know that living together before marriage was not a factor in ending my first marriage. Certainly cohabitation prior to marriage happened before the advent of what I call 20th century Victorianism, and sometimes I suspect with social approval.
Because I did not carry the psychological burden of “husband-hunting” into my romantic life I felt free to take more time and make more deliberate choices about who I spent my time with and with whom I shared my body. The only big screw-ups came when I tried to compromise and allow for the pseudo-Victorian ideals I learned in childhood. I wound up miserable, and nothing I ever did was going to make my family happy. What I’ve learned is that the core values that matter revolve around respect, and have a very different relevance to sexuality, marriage and partnership than what I expected.
I have a few stories to tell, and hopefully they will at least entertain you all.