Posted on June 11, 2010


if you don’t expect too much from me
you might not be let down
‘cause all i really want is to be with you
feeling like i matter, too
if i hadn’t blown the whole thing years ago
i might be here with you

~ “hey jealousy” – gin blossoms

the happy medium.  i’ve talked about it before and i’ve thought much about it, but i still haven’t figured it out.  does it exist?  or is it just a nice way to say “i’ve settled”?

not long ago, i sat in a restaurant and observed three different couples…

the olds.

they were each in their 70s, though their 80s could still be conservative estimates.  she had white hair, his matched.  the only words she spoke were her order.  the same for him.  they didn’t talk to each other.  they barely looked at each other.  neither of them smiled – not at each other, not at their server, not at the little baby sitting at the table next to them.  not even once.

part of me felt sad for them.  it was as if neither of them existed to each other.  another part of me thought it was humorous.  were they just sick of being stuck with each other, yet hungry?  and another part of me wondered, was this just how they did their “together” time?  the time you spend with the one you love, when no talking or interaction is required b/c everything’s already been said?  and then i became conflicted.  how can you spend forever with someone if everything has already been said?

the scaries.

they were in their early 30s, maybe mid.  she was larger than him, but pretty.  he was attractive, yet wore his frustration on his face.  he ordered for her, but she kept correcting him.  he ordered for himself, then shot her a nasty look and asked her loudly “or did i get it wrong?!”.  i heard her say the words “shut up” at least a dozen times.  each time, he muttered “quit bein’ a bitch”.  they bantered incoherently for their entire meal and i found myself wondering why they were even sitting at a table together, let alone married.  as they left, she grabbed his hand and he kissed her forehead.

i was beyond confused.  their entire interaction involved looks of annoyance from her and looks of utter embarrassment from him. they didn’t seem to  have anything in common and in this case, it was certainly clear that their opposites were not attracting.  was it the conflict that kept them together?  was it the degradation, by both parties really, that kept their relationship emotionally charged?

the innocents.

they had to still be in high school.  maybe recent graduates, but that might be stretching it.  they sat on the same side of the table, holding hands and kissing (gross).  she intently listened to him ramble on about his summer plans, making those cutesy little “i’m going to miss you so much” faces, then breaking out into baby-speak, saying “i’m going to miss you so much.”  he asked her if her food was good no less than 5 times.  they vomit inducingly fed each other a shared dessert.  laughing hysterically when a piece of cake hit the table.

i felt sick, then realized something… this is exactly how i felt when i was their age.  everything was so simple.  it was fun.  it was pretty.  it was… going to last forever b/c it was SO perfect.  until it wasn’t.  then it dawned on me – these kids have never been hurt.  their only reality is the perfect lasting forever hand holding dessert sharing RIGHTnow.  maybe it will last forever… though odds are most certainly stacked against them.  and i cynically cackled to myself and shook my head.

of course, me observing three couples makes this no scientific feat.  i know happy couples.  i know miserable couples.  i know couples that make it work just to prove to everyone else that it can be done, even if they would rather be apart.  i know couples that say “i love you” everyday.  i know couples who never say “i love you” at all.  i know couples who do everything together.  i know couples who do nothing together.

i read an article a few days ago that said happy couples shouldn’t “expect too much” from each other.  but let’s be realistic here.  when someone wants you to do something that you don’t want to do, isn’t that always asking “too much”?

in my case with M, i expected him not to cheat.  that was “too much”.  i expected him not to lie.  that was “too much”.  i expected him to co-parent his child.  that was “too much”.  i expected him to make time for his family.  that was “too much”.  i expected him to come home after a few beers with his buddies.  that was also, apparently, “too much”.

unreasonable?  absolutely not.  it was a set of compromises and a lot of common sense.  but to him, it was all asking for far “too much”.

i could go on and on and on and on, but in all honesty, if you don’t expect “too much”, is there any expectation at all?  i’m not advocating for perfection, i’m not asking for the sun & moon (bang, bang, bang), i’m not even implying that a man learn to keep the wet towels off the floor and not shake his wiener at you when he dresses.

what i am suggesting is this:  if we don’t expect “too much”, aren’t we just settling?  and if not, why am i so stifled on either/or?  all or nothing?

(see part one here)
(see part two here)
(see part three here)
(see part four here)
(see part five here)
(see part six here)