My First Failed Fantasy

Image from restartmyheart

Ever watched Revolutionary Road?

I have. I watched it on a cold winter’s day, safe in the theatre from the cold outside. I watched it and I wondered if my life would be like that.

I too felt like I was in a couple that was different. We were ready to take over the world, stand up for what we believed in and pursue our dreams. But six months later we were both working the 8 to 5, getting by, being angry at one another, taking all of that petty work stress out on the one we loved the most. We were really angry at the fact that we weren’t different. We had to get by.

Fitting in our imagined ideas of our difference became harder and harder. Slowly we let that dream become weaker and weaker. Slowly things got better. We resolved petty fights and resolved to have less of them. We resolved to love one another. We grew stronger, got along better, the sex got better and better. It seemed like it was all going to work.

Image from beautyineverything.com

I grew up promising never to get married. I didn’t want to. My parents got divorced when I was young and I suppose all I understood of marriage was that it was complicated, it caused a lot of financial stress and paperwork. It didn’t seem like something I wanted. During university I became more committed to this. Marriage was something damaging for women. It held them back. It limited their options. It wouldn’t let me achieve what I wanted. It too would become a noose that trapped me into ‘normal’ middle-class life.

But as our dreams of being different started to become more difficult to negotiate, it began to be something that I wanted. If we were going to be ‘normal’, I wanted to be the best normal that there was. I wanted to get married. I believed that we could make it work. We would be the ones to show how it could last, could be self-affirming, mutually fulfilling. It could be a foundation to build our life together on.

I began to struggle with myself. How could I want something like this when I knew that it did little for women? How could I want something like this when it reinforced all the things I didn’t believe in? This could not be the thing that affirmed me. That would make me the woman that I didn’t want to be.

I realized that it was not only the marriage that I wanted. In fact, I wanted something more than the marriage.

I wanted the sparkle in his eye when he asked me to marry him. I wanted to dream about all the planning and anticipation that he had felt – that warm glowing bubble that was inside him waiting to ask me to stay with him forever. That surprise moment. The excitement. The hopefulness. The commitment that it takes to open your mouth and ask. The sheer power of the belief that it is worth asking. I wasn’t sure I could live without that.

But a proposal takes two people, no?

He said he didn’t believe in it. Marriage meant nothing. It was just something that people did for legal purposes, to reinforce their place in our problematic society. Perhaps it was something that lacked credibility for him because of his parents’ owned failed attempts. We are all broken children, we the generation after the divorcing ages. He was adamant.

The surprise moment will never happen. I should stop waiting for it. I am heartbroken.

5 thoughts on “My First Failed Fantasy

  1. You are right about us being a generation of broken children. But we should strive to surpass our childhoods and live our lives, and marry our partners, free of any preconceived ideas of marriage. We should not look around, but within ourselves, to find what we REALLY want. Everyone has choices, determined largely by society, but we are also individuals with free will. Perhaps in time, your boyfriend will come to see that whatever you do as a couple should be for the benefit of both.

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  2. “I don’t see much sense in that,” said Rabbit.
    “No,” said Pooh humbly, “there isn’t. But there was going to be when I began it. It’s just that something happened to it along the way.”
    I thought Winnie the Pooh might say it better than I could. Perhaps there was more sense in what your partner was saying when he began thinking it many years ago and now he is stuck in that thought…which doesn’t seem to make sense anymore now that there is you, but he can’t let go of it just yet.

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  3. You made some excellent points here. I did a search on this and most people agree with what your saying. Will you be updating this blog in the future? I bookmarked you and will check back later. Thanks for the info.

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  4. This is so honest it’s almost frightening. As women we spend a lot of time negotiating what we want from life and I often become preoccupied with the “why?” question. I recently thought I would quite like a pair of ankle boots. Then I sat and thought, Why do I want these boots when last year I thought they were hideous? Is it because I like them or is it because they’ve been on TV and in magazines on beautiful women? Likewise, I’ve never been sure if to be married was something I wanted or just something society made me need. It could also be that unlike you, the author of this post, I had a wonderful example from my parents who have an amazing marriage and have been inspiringly mutually supportive for 30-odd years. But wherever this need for a fairy tale comes from doesn’t stop it from being pressing. Sometimes you have to forget about “why?” and just do what makes you happiest. For me, being in love with someone makes me go to extreme measures to be as close to that person as possible. Society tells us that the way to do that is through marriage. I know that it doesn’t work for some people, but I’m willing to give it a try. I hope your boyfriend can find a way of giving you the forever without the chains.

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