Today, I was a bystander to a conversation that made me rather sad. A young woman was talking about her husband and from the gist of the discussion between the participants, it sounds like husband: doesn't want to vacation anywhere she's suggested for their upcoming trip, says derogatory things about the activities she suggests they do, doesn't like the food she enjoys, wants to move them cross country to a climate she's never experienced (and isn't sure she'll like), but won't consider that her career has less opportunities for her in that locale, and generally, makes the man sound like a selfish, spoiled prig.
I could have contributed to this discussion, as I know all the parties involved, but I knew that whatever I said would be met with a lot of the exact same rationalizations I gave twenty years ago.
That was my situation in a previous life. Sure, I made lemons out of it, and I derived a lot of enjoyment from my days, but 20 years on, I look at this person, the same age I was when my ex walked out and realize that damn, that's what my life was like. I didn't see it back then, but now, I want to just say 'You deserve what YOU want, too, for Pete's sake!'.
Yes, marriage is about compromise. There's a ying and yang and sometimes there are some really rough experiences that suck. Ed and I have been through a lot of crap, but we definitely have a balancing act going on. Sometimes it's 70/30, sometimes its 90/10, sometimes its 20/80, and hopefully, there's more 50/50 than less. But I came to him a little battle scarred, and less willing to put up with giving 90 and getting 10 for more than a short term situation.
There are some things I don't compromise on. He gets a lot of things his way, even if I don't agree, because they're just things that really don't matter in the long run. (TV? Have whatever show you want). Then again, he knows that if it's something I'm standing firm on the way it will be, it means a lot to me. For that, I am very fortunate.
Sad to say, what I heard today (and have heard quite a bit from this woman), is that she's doing all the compromising. It's okay if it is stuff that doesn't really mean much in the big picture, like where you're going to go for dinner that night. But it seems like these are pretty big, life-altering things that are coming up and she's the one who always has to give in.
It's just sad and a little frustrating to hear it and know that there's going to be a lot of tears and heartache if her life's partner is this way now. Or to mention how I admired a pair of shoes and Ed insisted I buy them, or last month, that we were at an outlet and he suggested I buy a piece of luggage I liked (but don't need) and the wistful responses she made.
My words won't make a difference, but I wish they could, because while she sounds like me 20 years ago, I wouldn't want her to repeat the experience the me 19 years ago went through...