William: 'All I'm asking for, is a normal amount of perspective'
Anna: 'The thing is, I've been dealing with this garbage for ten years. You've had it for ten minutes. Our *perspectives* are very different' - Notting Hill
Someone mentioned to me the other day, that people who come out of particularly devastating marriages - like, those who've been married to psychos and such - are somehow supremely happy in their second marriages. And since the observation came from someone closely connected to said people, I took it in.
And I get it. There's a simple logic to this. If a bad (and by that I mean psycho/abusive) marriage hasn't made you take off to the mountains and join some nudist cult or you know, made you plain old-fashioned cynical, then it is highly likely that you're one of the lucky few who has risen from the ashes with your expectations greatly lowered.
At least, I know for a fact that my expectations are nowhere close to where they used to be. I mean, the shallow Vrski and Edinburgh type fantasies aside, I have this renewed confidence in my ability to sustain a life-long monogamous relationship with a regular guy. Meaning, I don't anymore have issues with all the things that make a guy regular.
Seriously, I keep getting all these forwards on how husbands are like this and wives are like this or men are like this and women are like this and my eyes roll by default. I mean, I look at this very old and widely circulated forward from "The Guys" with points such as: 1) 'Men are not mind readers' 2) 'Crying is blackmail' 3) 'If we ask what is wrong and you say "nothing," we will act like nothing's wrong. We know you are lying but it is just not worth the hassle' 4) 'Come to us with a problem only if you want help solving it. It's what we do. Sympathy is what your girlfriends are for' and I just don't relate. At all. At any level. And worse, I don't find it funny anymore. Not because I don't think it's true but because I think it's SO true, it's sad. It's a reminder of the girl I used to be a very long time ago - a girl who was incapable of being happy no matter what she had going for her. And it breaks my heart that this forward is still in circulation because - jokes aside - it simply means that so many women are still in that place - incapable of appreciating The Regular Guy.
I have been dealing with serious, Hitchcock level (okay, not Hitchcock, more like Darr ) psycho problems now for about 8 years and you have no idea what I'd give to be in a relationship with a guy who watches cricket while "I'm telling him something really important" or "tells me he has work and is actually gaming with the guys" or have the luxury of complaining about such things as someone not being able to figure out what it is that I'm upset about, every time I'm upset about something. Perspectives. All it takes. Just switch shoes with someone else (usually, anyone else) for ten minutes to appreciate your own life more. I'm not saying the daily drudgery of living with The Regular Guy can't make you want to jump off a bridge sometimes - but unlike Anna in the quote above, I believe that a radically different perspective is sometimes just the thing we need.
Also, I've been single for years now - the longest I've ever gone without a relationship - and it's given me all the time in the world to chalk out a workable plan to peacefully coexist with The Regular Guy.
1) For starters, I have finally wrapped my head around a simple fact that I missed all those years ago: The Regular Guy is thick headed. It's just how it is. He may be able to pull your television apart and put it back together but he is simply not equipped to read the nuances in your tone or facial expressions. And even if can tell there's something off, he's usually completely wrong about it. This is not his fault, it's just how he's wired. So just spell it out. How difficult is it? I have found that my relationships with all my male friends have improved significantly since I learnt the fine art of spelling things out. He's not going to think you're a demanding bitch if you sweetly ask him if he can pick you up - even if you don't really have a valid reason for not wanting to get there by yourself on a particular day. He'll just take it at face value and say yes or no (which brings me to #2). If you try and hint at this however, it will confuse him and the whole thing could just go so horribly wrong.
2) 'No' is a valid response. It has to do with so many little things - practical things and very little to do with such things as not caring enough about you. Take the same situation with wanting to be picked up. There is the matter of time, distance and please, traffic is such a bitch these days. So if he says no, he means just that. 'No, not a practically workable situation.' Not 'No, you don't matter enough.' If you are tempted to compare this situation with some other situation when he picked up some other girl from the other end of the city in thick traffic, please don't. No good can come of this. That other girl is not in the picture now, you are. And the fact that he can be himself around you is actually a lovely thing. Let him be, no? And if it's really important to you to get to this place, find a way. Or stay home and don't complain. This is not his fault.
3) Ask nicely and say thank you. If you were an it-girl in high school or you're just one of those women who is used to guys kissing the ground you walk on, this may not come naturally to you but believe me, there is nothing cute about being a spoilt, entitled bitch. Also, these kissing-the-ground guys will disappear in some time so it's better to get used to doing your share of the heavy-lifting. This way, when someone offers to help - you really, genuinely, appreciate it and can easily let them know this.
4) If he's not moving his butt around the house, treat him like a seven year old. Make a list - assigning chores to him. And give him a deadline. If the deadline isn't met, withhold the treat (sex). This should work. If it doesn't, then NO TV, NO FOOD, NO STEPPING OUT OF THE HOUSE. Mommy is in session. But whatever you do, please do not clean up after him and then make mental records of the number of times he let you down. This will only leave you feeling mentally and physically depleted while he continues watching TV.
5) I have read a lot of stuff on obedience training for puppies and one of the things they say is - when your puppy takes a leak on your carpet or something, you have to express disapproval in the same instant. So when you catch your puppy red handed, you're supposed to point to the crime scene and say 'NO' firmly till he gets that you disapprove. They also tell you that there is no point yelling at a puppy hours after the crime. He will not understand what you're angry about and it will only confuse and sadden him. I have found that this is a wonderful rule to apply to your Regular Guy. So if you went to a party and your idiot flirted shamelessly with the hottest girl in the room while she rolled her eyes, you have to point out the idiocy immediately and not two months later. But when I say immediately, I mean, wait till you get home, of course. Don't make a scene. Because then, the focus will shift from his idiocy to yours.
6) There is no shame in admitting to feeling jealous or insecure every now and then. It means you're human and in touch with your feelings. However, admissions of jealousy are often accompanied by tears and screaming and this is not usually received well by The Regular Guy. If you're asking why is it that you are supposed to make all the effort to work around what he can or cannot take, you should know that I've spent years thinking about this. And I've really come to feel sorry for these guys. They are just not as complex and layered as we are. They cannot see your emotional outburst and conclude that you are simply hurt. My contention is, if they could really see this - that when you scream and cry and threaten to leave, you're simply saying 'I am hurting and I want you to hold me' - they probably will just hold you. But sadly, they are incapable of seeing this. They see tears and they think 'Oh, my God. She's accusing me of breaking her. Where's the exit? Oh, I can't breathe! I can't breathe! Where's the darn EXIT?'
I know, it's frustrating and sad. But I really think crying alone in a bathroom is so much more therapeutic anyway. Especially with mascara on. It's super dramatic and it's just the purging you need. So once you've dealt with the emotional aspect of the insecurity or jealousy or whatever, sit him down and have a matter-of-fact talk about how you've felt - listing out ways in which he can help. I swear, this works.
If he still makes a scene and accuses of 'suffocating' him and all that, just bang his head against a wooden block and see if it works. If that doesn't work, dump him. He's probably the emotional equivalent of a small rodent and we don't need that in the house.
7) I've noticed that the best couples have their own understanding of what's allowed and what's not. For example, there is an acceptable degree of flirtation with other people and this differs from couple to couple. But this is a fine balance and it can easily be tipped by one person having a bad day and too much tequila. This is why I prefer going with the no-amount-of-flirtation-is-okay rule. This is also why I'm still single.
But either way, when the balance does get tipped, I find that it is so much easier to confront and deal with it instead of flirting with someone else to get even. For starters, this game could go on and on and you will both end up coming across as two juvenile nincompoops to everyone else in your orbit. Swallow the pride and admit you're not okay with it. If he takes it badly or lashes out, that's not your fault. You have a right to not be okay with something even if the whole world is. You also have to be prepared to lose people for it.
I cannot say it enough - The Regular Guy is a simple, straightforward, non-record-keeping, usually forgetful, oblivious creature. There is no point reading into him and analyzing him to shreds. As Joey Tribbiani once famously put it - 'I don't have another level.' But he also comes with so many lovable qualities - which is why you picked him in the first place. I say, if you have a regular guy who annoys the crap out of you, keep him. Though he can be trying - especially on a daily basis. But all of that can be significantly reduced if you simply learnt to speak his language. Don't you adjust your conversations all the time according to the people around you? You don't talk to your seven year old the same way you talk to your parents and you don't talk to your boss, the way you talk to your colleagues (although this doesn't hold good in advertising). So why should it be any different with the guy? Don't talk to him like you talk to your chicas. That's all!
And seriously, if he's not a raving psycho hell bent on spiting you, maligning you or inflicting pain even years later, then consider yourself blessed. You have no idea how many of those are on the loose these days. Also, the question you need to address is this - do I want a life-long, monogamous relationship. If the answer is yes and you have a non-psycho but annoying guy in your possession, please just keep him and find a way to work around it? Or whatever you do, don't leave your relationship in the hope of finding Prince Charming please - especially not if you've hit 30. I mean, there is NO ONE on this side. I've spent a long time here and I promise you, it's a bleak land filled with commitment phobes, adulterers, casual-relationship-pers, one-night-stand-ers and the like - all the guys on Bridget Jones' Do-not-date list. SO. If you're married to The Regular Guy and complaining all the time, stop it. It's not cool.
'Married people need to step it up: I don't want to hear about the endless struggles it takes to keep sex exciting, or the work it takes to plan a date night. I want to hear that you guys watch every episode of The Bachelorette together in secret shame, or that one got the other hooked on Breaking Bad and if either watches it without the other, they're dead meat. I want to see you guys high-five each other like teammates on a recreational softball team you both do for fun. I want o hear about it because I know it's possible and because I want it for myself.
Married people, it's up to you. It's entirely on your shoulders to keep this sinking institution afloat. It's a stately old ship, and a lot of people, like me, want to get on board. Please be psyched and convey that psychedness to us. And always remember: so many, many people are envious of what you have. You're the star at the end of the Shakespearean play, wearing the wreath of flowers in your hair. The rest of us are just the little side characters.' - Mindy Kaling, Is everyone hanging out without me (and other concerns)