Hump Day Hmmm 1-30-08

Today’s Hump Day theme is to discuss a pivotal childhood memory or event. For more takes on this topic, check out Julie at Using My Words. It would be even better if you used YOUR words and joined us!

Childhood is such a melange of memories. It’s hard to put my finger on any one time or place or event that was pivotal. And it is so intensely personal. I’ve never really put anything this personal on the blog before. I would have to say (since I’m writing this part after I wrote the post), it is the most difficult post I have written. I almost skipped today, to be honest. But that would be chicken of me. One of the most pivotal times in my younger life would have to be the time I was with my first “real” boyfriend, when I was about 16.

What made “Fred” different from the others, both before and after, was that he actually cared about what was going on inside of my head. He was interested in what I had to say, not just what I looked like. He wasn’t threatened by my intelligence or drive. He was a friend first. But, alas, it ended, as most high school things do. Even though it was a pretty mature relationship, we were not. We were still growing up, and our lives were going to be on different paths.

So why was “Fred” so important? Because this relationship set the standard for what I would look for in a spouse. After “Fred”, and I broke up, I dated. A lot. And since “Fred” had been my first boyfriend, I naively thought that all guys would be that way. I was genuinely shocked to find out that many guys felt threatened by woman with a strong personality. It surprised me that most guys would not take the time to learn about my interests the way I would learn about theirs. I was blown away by the fact that most guys did not view the relationship as a partnership. (Ok, you can stop laughing now). Frankly, I was dismayed. But I did know what I was looking for, and I wouldn’t settle.

My friends thought I was a bit crazy when I started dating Spouse. So did his actually, as I had achieved a bit of a “rep” from all of my casual dating. Except for the German part, Spouse did not fit the “profile”. That is, the exterior “profile” of what girls like me would date. The inside, though, was perfect. His mother is a total battle-axe, so a strong personality would not only be desired, but required to survive in his family. He is intensely driven to succeed, so any partner would have to match that intensity or be left behind. And he likes to talk WITH people, not TO people, so you’d better have something to say, because he is actually LISTENING. Instead of feeling threatened by my interests, he enjoys them because he knows it makes me a more complete person. And although it goes without saying, he is my bestest friend ever!

My time with “Fred” was important. It taught me to not settle in a relationship. It showed me what a relationship should be. It helped me to be open to the right person when that person finally came along. Without that experience, I’m not sure I would have been ready or recognized it for what it was. I might have just taken what was left. And I cannot imagine how different my life would be today.

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8 responses to “Hump Day Hmmm 1-30-08

  1. I know what you mean about someone you date opening your eyes. The first girl I ever went out – our first date was a tragedy. But many months later, she realized that a “friend” had screwed it up as much as anyone, so she and I went out again. And it turned out to be the best thing for her and for me that we did. I became her “boyfriend barometer” because she decided whether or not to keep a guy around by whether she’d rather dump him to date me. I was not at all hurt by this because we were just friends and agreed to only date as friends, so I had no expectation of being more. When she finally met her husband, she knew he was the one because she preferred going out with him to me. I was glad for her, and I’m good friends with both of them to this day.

    I also learned a lot from that relationship, and it was somewhat of a barometer for me when I really considered what I wanted in a wife. I appreciated that she did not fear eating steak on a date. I appreciated that she and I could disagree but remain friends. Most of all I appreciated her high moral standards, and I often thought “One day, I’d love to marry a girl like that.”

    When I met my wife, I was not looking for anyone. I had literally gotten out of a relationship because I just felt wrong being in one that was not going anywhere just to not be alone. I was immediately captivated by my wife’s conversation. We talked about life, religion, college, interests, books… so many things. And that was the first time we met. The next day we talked again, and she said “You’re right, that book you suggested was good.” I said “What do you mean ‘was’?” She had gone to the library and read it THE NEXT DAY. I was captivated. How does this relate? She had the same faith and moral standards as the first girl I dated, and I saw that right away. The two of them are actually good friends and talk even without me knowing it.

    It’s great to see people in a relationship that is a partnership. I never wanted a subjugant wife. That’s one thing that drives me nuts about the “typical” Southern wife – many people expect them to dote on their husbands. I am glad every day for the woman I married and the broad range of interests (many of them very different from my own, though I enjoy them with her).

    Great post.

  2. I think it’s lovely that you expected guys like Fred, and found that sort, first. It shows a good interior image of you, KWIM?

    There are the ones who don’t match up, who not only aren’t right, but who can’t be a fair partner.

    I guess they were important too because when you met your husband, you saw the gem.

    Your husband must be flattered by this…it’s such a lovely story and testament to a good partnership.

    I’m glad you ponied up. Great post.

  3. This was an exellent post, Melissa. I’m glad that I’m getting a chance to know you through your blog. This post made your blog make my blog roll because I loved it so much. I think it’s important for people to learn about and devote themselves to each other in a marriage, and it seems like Fred was a huge help to you. He may not even know it now, but the way we live our lives can have far reaching impacts on people.

  4. Partnership/Marriage like Robert said, many southern men and women still believe women should dote. It sounds good, but hey I got bored working 3 jobs and going to school. I wouldn’t last long just ‘doting’ on a husband. I have always had interests and loved to read, travel and explore.

    Oh well, no worries, my standards are in place and I am learning to enjoy life, while keeping my eyes open for my own version of ‘Fred’. Thanks for the inspiration to stick to my guns Melissa.

  5. Yes, stick to your standards, and get your gun if someone suggests otherwise, ria. Sometimes it helps to shop outside your local “market”, too. I married a Western girl, and I’ve been very thankful. She has two degrees, can play at least a dozen instruments, loves to read, sews beautifully, and is great at inspiring other people (a born cheerleader). I know I’m not the “package” that people would’ve expected for her, but I know we’re glad to have each other.

  6. Really lovely story. But I’m intrigued that you ended with “I might have just taken what was left.” How does that tie in with your blog name? Maybe I missed the intro post on what your blog name is all about, but I found it curious that you use the phrase here.

  7. Angela gets the gold star for today!

    “Taking what is left” was literally one of the only things I could get as a blog name. Well, I’m sure that there are others, but I was typing in lots of things, and started joking around and this came up.

    And then I started to think. That for the past several years, that’s what I had been doing. I had stopped being proactive. Like Rush (the band) says, “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice”. So, I decided to stop waiting around and start doing again.

    Imagine life as a buffet. If you wait to act, all of the really good opportunities will be gone. I started the blog to remind myself of that. To stop taking what is left, and go out there and get it for myself.

    People like Fred and Spouse don’t come along every day. So when I had my second chance, I held on with all sets of claws and teeth! I didn’t want to be like some of my friends who got married to “what was left” because they married out of desperation. Even though everyone said I was too young (20 when I got engaged), I knew I was right. And I was. We’ll be married fifteen years in July.

    So there’s the tie in. Not waiting around for something to happen. When you see what is right for you, grab on with both hands. Don’t sit back and wait for the leftovers. Get yourself to the front of the line and enjoy the feast.

  8. It never hurts to throw a few elbows to get to the good stuff, too.

    I definitely knew what I had in Ellie, and I wasn’t willing to let her walk out of my life twice – she tried once after we’d just met. I’ve never regretted my decision to make her my wife. Not once.

    She and I even had a conversation about that sort of fear, taking what is left. She kept telling me I was such a great guy, but trying to convince me I was a great guy for someone else. I told her “If I’m so great, why don’t I get to be with the girl I want to be with. Am I supposed to be a great guy for someone who screwed up with their first choice, had a couple of kids with a jerk, and then needs someone to pick them up? I’d rather be someone’s first choice.” I think that took down her defenses at least one notch.

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