In case for the not so happily ever after
Is the grass really greener on the other side? Take it from a self-professed, perennially single girl. It’s not greener, it’s just a different shade of green. Here’s to, perhaps, not tying the knot.
rowing up, I always envisioned “having it all.” A star-status acting career, adored and emulated by many, loads of hard-cold cash to buy the big, beautiful sprawling estate in Malibu, which would, by the way, house my relentless penchant for antique-white wares and wicker chairs, replete with matching white floors exquisitely accented with Tiffany Blue walls. A life-size dollhouse in the vein of the legendary jewelry brand. And, a tall, dark handsome hubby and two equally gorgeous, healthy children – preferably one boy and one girl. I wasn’t asking for much.
Or, was I?
I was a little girl with a big heart and even bigger dreams. The oldest of four siblings, I spawn from a modest, middle-class working family from New Jersey. My two, hard-working parents loved us all immeasurably, provided for us without pause, and loved each other. They embodied the all-American, quintessential love story, my father proclaiming it was always love at first sight. My grandfather used to always tell his eight grandchildren, “We may not be rich in money, but we’re rich in love and family.” His words still resonate to this day. Oh, how I miss that man.
So, it really shouldn’t have come as a surprise that at the age of 23, I left the comfort of the East Coast and made my way West to embark on an adventure-filled life filled of fame, fortune, and, just maybe...family. Already the recipient of two broken hearts, including a long list of other disappointments in the dubious dating department, I wasn’t too invested in finding Mr. Right at the moment. The world was my oyster! Fresh out of the cap and gown with the hard-earned college degree snugly packed away in one of my many moving boxes, I hit the Los Angeles ground running in search of my first talent agent who would no doubt catapult me to the red-carpet, feverishly awaiting my first of many Oscars.
Why had I unceremoniously become blissfully content flying solo? Was I unknowingly relinquishing a childhood plan of having the hot hubby, huge house, and 2.5 kids? Was I giving up? Absolutely not. At least it didn't feel that way. Was I happy? You betcha! Maybe it was because I didn’t need a father figure or a man to complete me or define my identity. When I was a teen-ager, my father demanded, “Don’t ever depend on a man. Be independent like your mother. Your mother
doesn’t need me. I need her.” The men in my family sure do have a way of providing sage love and life advice, don’t they? Was it a healthy, robust familial love and support system that had, by default, satisfied my need for finding “the one?” So, the only things left on my bucket list were acquiring celeb-status, copious amounts of cash to support and sustain my already unhealthy and shameless shoe and skincare addictions, and annual world travel?
Plus, that maternal pull I had as a child all but completely vanished into the sunny, smoggy skies of SoCal. While my girlfriends, colleagues, cousins, and sister yearned for motherhood, their eager uteruses swelling at the mere innocent giggle from a baby, I had yet to hear a peep from my so-called biological clock. I often wondered if I even had one. I always joked I was a man tragically trapped within the confines of the female form. But, nevertheless, motherhood and wifery were things I simply no longer wanted. And, that is okay. This is 2018 and I don't need to fear being publicly burned at the stake for being a rebellious, “inadequate” woman. Imagine that.
Already in my mid-forties, I am, and have been, happily living the supposedly dreaded, desperate, and undesirable single life. And, it’s absolutely glorious! I get to do whatever I want, whenever I want without having to answer to anyone. I get to live life on my terms. I regret nothing. I sleep soundly, like a bug in a rug, knowing no one is out there cheating on me with random, wanton women. No man can ever blame me for ruining his life by selfishly confiscating half of whatever he owned. These are just some of the endless lamentations I hear from disgruntled divorcees, both men and women, including the real-life desperate housewives and their emotionally-spent, sex-starved husbands. The spinster 2.0 life is quite liberating and stress-free. No commitment required. I finally think I nailed the reason for the seemingly unstoppable slew of not-so-happily-ever-after’s that continue to plague those who were so desperate to tie the knot. Here's what I've learned from my self-proclaimed husband-hungry counterparts while on my own “table-for-one” journey.
When I was in my late 20s, about two months before the tragic 9/11 terrorist attacks that would forever change the course of the American way of life took place, I ventured back home to Jersey to
attend my cousin Chrissy’s much-anticipated nuptials. A fairytale-esque ceremony and reception literally fit for a princess – and an only child. Chrissy was five years my junior and sans siblings, a realty which caused her debilitating disquiet growing up. She had real, big beautiful butterflies that were released from glass mason jars when she and her new husband exited the church after the ceremony. From the beautiful butterflies to the jaw-dropping dress to the breathtaking flowers to the favors to the food to the cake with the little groom and bride perfectly positioned on top, it was pure perfection wedding-wise.
Until it wasn’t.
About six months later, I awoke to the phone ringing one early Sunday morning. It was my dad. He suggested I give my aunt a call because she was feeling a bit besides herself. Chrissy and Steve were headed for Splitsville. No chance of reconciliation. Nada. Over. Curtain call. Wait... what? Through streaming crocodile tears and heart-wrenching admission, Chrissy conceded she wanted
the fairytale wedding. Marriage, she realized, was not something she had signed up for. Oh, really? The hot, bed-busting honeymoon phase had fizzled before the leftover mini bottles of champagne favors. Enter: the aftermath, aka, marriage. As per usual, Chrissy was on a quest for the “next big thing.” The never ending human hunger for more. And, also as per usual, she didn’t disappoint. She had already snagged someone else. Fresh meat. A new adventure. Chrissy was never one to exit without a well-prepared back-up plan, aka, boyfriend.
And, I have to say, my cousin isn’t the only runaway wife. (By the way, she did it again.) As I get older, I cannot help but be witness to this matrimonial mayhem amongst so many of my peers, as well as younger couples. It surely doesn’t discriminate. The tales of fairytale wedding chasers pervade my online social feeds more than cute cat videos and political memes combined, rife with regretful wives feeling more and more unfilled, infinitely longing for something new, someone new, something exciting, something else. A female version of the mid-life crisis? Or, in my cousin’s case, quarter-life crisis? Maybe, maybe not. So, what gives? Personally, I think women fail to see the bigger picture and really think things through before walking down that aisle dressed all in white. Whether they say “I do” to the first guy who asks them fearing no one else ever will, or the blaring tick-tock of the biological clock, or cultural/societal pressure to couple-up and procreate, the woes of weary wives is ever-increasing.
Or, could it simply be being a princess for a day is worth all the pain and regret down the road? That seems like a lot of unnecessary misery for a mere 24 hours of non-stop adulation from friends and family. What seems to be even worse is that the men are left holding the bag. On average, it takes women a few solid years to successfully convince their guys to pop the question with the little blue box and white bow in hand. When the guy finally acquiesces to the ultimatums and nagging for nuptials, plus building the “Barbie” dream house filled to the brim with mini-me’s, the woman suddenly wants out. I find this on-going trend increasingly common amongst married women in their 30s and older. And, equally concerning. Whether it was for financial security, cultural pressure, or posterity, these women really haven’t thought the entire process through. The institution of marriage isn’t one to be taken so cavalierly. Wedding vows don’t come with an expiration date, whether the honeymoon phase ends in two months or 20 years. You really need to do some soul-searching and know what you’re getting yourself into – long term. Figure out what you want and how you and your potential s.o. can build a lifetime partnership that's both fulfilling and rewarding. It won’t always be easy, but I’m sure it will be worth it if you dive in for all the right reasons. Because, there will inevitably come a time when the embers of romantic love cool and companion love begins to bud. Are you ready for that? It’s not exactly heart-stopping in an unceremonious “sex-on-the-staircase” sort of way. Maybe, sometimes it will be, but not most of the time. Someone else’s grass isn’t always greener. There isn’t something better around the next corner, just something different. Don’t jump from the frying pan into the fryer because you may get burned.
Decidedly, not all marriages are made in Heaven, but I’d be willing to go through Hell just to get there – if that’s what I truly wanted. I could’ve stayed back in Jersey, settled for a “secure” job working for the phone company, and enthusiastically said “yes” to the first guy who asked me. But, in my heart of hearts, I knew there was so much more out there and I was determined to get it. Honestly, if I could extract each excellent quality from all my past beaus and guys I dated and put them in a Boyfriend Bullet blender, I’d have the perfect man! But, would I have the perfect marriage?
I’m not taking my chances.