April 3, 2014
Readers, I’ve got a tale of caution for you all, especially if you know or think you might be one of the many people in the world who fall into the “I want to be married and have babies STAT – as in like yesterday” category of folk. The story I’m about to tell you is 100% true, though any and all identifying markers have been changed to protect the throbbing wombs and ringless finger having innocent. Here’s the deal…
The other day while walking down the street in my ‘hood I ran into Sharon, a late 20 something woman who I’ve become friendly with through my work. Being a sighted and somewhat observant person I immediately noticed that she was looking real glassy eyed and tense – distressed even.
“Sharon, what’s wrong? Tough day at work?”
Now who told me ask her that?
Though I was genuinely interested in hearing what had upset her – I’ve known this woman for about two years now and over the course of our working relationship we’ve developed a rather good rapport – I wasn’t at all ready for the shit storm that was unleashed by my query.
After swallowing real hard, seemingly to force back the torrent of tears that was bubbling just below the surface of her decidedly i’m-barely-holding-it-together-here-people game face, she came back at me with this…
“It’s super stressful at work right now, but what’s really bothering me is the fact that in addition to the fact that he won’t settle on a date for our wedding my supposed fiancé, still hasn’t gotten around to getting me a ring yet – even though he knows exactly which I want.”
Before I continue a bit of back-story to show you all how we got to this point…
During the holidays Sharon and her boyfriend of six years, Theo, spent a great deal of time with his family. From all accounts Theo’s kin are not the most tactful or sensitive people on the block. Instead of focusing of all the joy of the season, a few of the matriarchs in his family, decided to focus all their attention on the fact that Theo and Sharon were still ‘dragging their heels’ on what they both knew had to be done after dating for such a long time – get engaged.
To hear Sharon tell it, the absence of a shiny new diamond on her finger was gut wrenching for these women, so much so that during the final family holiday gathering, they kicked their mission to get Sharon a ring into high gear. You see, in addition to nagging Theo about why he hadn’t proposed to his girlfriend who ‘wasn’t getting any younger’ (yep, they said that out loud…in front of Sharon) all day, at least three of the get-married-now-or-die-trying female contingent of Theo’s family, actually (brace yourself folks cause this is one is a doozy)…
Removed their own engagement rings from their fingers to offer it to Sharon, stating something to the effect of “Theo, don’t worry about the money. She can have mine. Just get married already.”
On three separate occasions. In one single evening.
No. Word. Of. A. Lie.
Of course, as you can well imagine experiencing this made Sharon, a woman who has envisioned herself being married with children before hitting age 30 all her life, really, Really, REALLY uncomfortable. Now I’m sure you won’t be at all surprised to learn that her intense discomfort with his family’s antics lead to come to Jesus meeting between her and man at the end of the holidays. And, as luck would have it (for Sharon at least) that discussion ended with a proposal-less and no huge rock in sight verbal agreement to get married, some time between mid to late 2015. Sadly, due (at least in part) to the PTSD they are both still suffering, after being ‘terrorized’ about their ring-less status by Theo’s family, the happy couple’s (un)engagement is still solidly under wraps – even as she was standing in front of me on the street complaining about his not settling on a date.
Ok, you’re all caught up. Now back to the story.
“I know that you really want a ring from him, but isn’t the most important thing that you’re going to get married? Just focus on that,” I said.
Needless to say, my lame attempt to have her focus on the positive didn’t work, and for the duration of our 15-20 minute chat on the sidewalk, she regaled me with story after story of how much he was disappointing her these days. When I could get a word in edge wise, I did try to redirect her by:
- Dropping the hint that perhaps their biggest issue was their obvious communication problem, after she mentioned his tendency was to just clam up and say nothing when she tried to talk to him about their (un)engagement.
- Asking her tell me one thing she really liked about Theo – to which she replied ‘NOTHING.’ (You didn’t see that coming did you? Please note the sarcasm.)
- (After giving up on the positivity, because that shit so wasn’t working for me) Pointing out that pushing a person who was unwilling/nervous/simply not mentally ready to get married, all things she herself offered up as to why Theo wasn’t ‘exactly gung ho’ about their plans to get hitched, just might lead her feeling trapped and alone in an unhappy marriage in a year or two.
Despite all that and her own i-know-that-denial-isn’t-just-a-river-in-Egypt brand of acknowledgement of the fact that he was acting out to show her that he didn’t really want to get married, because he couldn’t bring himself to say it, our conversation ended on the same note it started on…
“I just want my ring and to settle on a date. That’s all I need to be happy. That’s all he needs to give me to make me happy. And he should be trying to make me happy, right?”
A question (I still have yet to answer) that provides the perfect segue for my PSA for today…
If moving forward in your relationship (whatever that may mean to you) hinges upon pushing/cajoling/forcing/guilting the person you claim to love and care about most in the world to do or become something they clearly can’t wrap their head around in order to please you, there’s a really good chance in the wrong relationship…
That is unless the idea of being glassy-eyed and tightly wound most of the time is your very own version of happy.