October 2007


Denial: the lies we tell ourselves to prolong unhappiness and discontent

It was easy to attribute my absence of interest in planning a wedding to the new job and the new business. AND I was never one of those girls who fantasized about her wedding day. Ever. I did have the random dream, with me waking up consumed by anxiety and remembering the snippet of my father telling me how much he spent on the wedding and I would attend the reception instead of hiding out in my hotel room.

I cashed out on my wedding fund at age 25. My mother, who called me her “little bird” confided in me shortly after the engagement that she gave up any expectation of me marrying years ago. And at my 10-year high school reunion, when I opened up my English journal that had been time-capsuled for the event, I was surprisingly impressed with the insight I had at the age of 17. We were tasked with predicting where we saw ourselves in 10 years, what our lives would be like:

“In ten years from now, I will be successful in my career. I might be married, with kids, but it’s likely I’ll be divorced because I get bored easily and can see myself committing to kids but not committing to a man.”

Dexter was laid back about it all. He had already experienced the big, expensive, black-tie affair – he said it was up to me, with the exception of getting hitched in Vegas because “marriages that begin in Vegas don’t last.” There was an amusing irony in that statement but I let it go and mechanically went on providing the response, “I’m just enjoying being engaged,” whenever someone asked about the wedding planning.

After 4 months, I started to feel weird about not making any gestures for the nuptial preparations. Dexter would ask and we would discuss ideas but nothing was acted on. Whenever something is bothering me, I can’t sleep, and at the time, I was having insomnia. So I called my mom.

“Mom, I need to talk to you.”

“You don’t want to get married.”

“How’d you know?”

“I’m your mother.”

Her advice was to give it a little more time and not commit to anything. It was natural to have reservations and doubts and no one said I had to get married, but I shouldn’t be hasty. So I didn’t do anything. And that’s when I made a new friend at work.

He was the most junior member in the office and he reminded me of me at that age – the young, energetic flirt with the healthy ego who got away with being a smart ass largely due to an irresistible smile. It started innocently. He would sit at his desk with his headphones on, listening to his ipod. I would do the same at mine. He would always smile at me when I walked by. Finally I asked him what “the kids” were listening to these days and he told me. We switched ipods. We started talking more and more, and one day, I looked at him and I saw pure potential. With the right haircut, the right hair product, the right clothes, the right shoes, with a little work on his walk, his talk, his overall comportment – he could have chicks eating out of his palm.

So I decided to make him my project.

Marriage: the state of being united to a person of the opposite sex as husband or wife in a consensual and contractual relationship recognized by law

Marriage makes bad business.

RIGHTS UPON TERMINATION OF MARRIAGE OTHER THAN BY DEATH

1.    Mr. Haven specifically waives forever the benefit of spousal support rights, alimony payments, including those arising under the so-called “necessaries” doctrine and any interest in the separate property of Ms. Lord.  Ms. Lord shall be entitled to support rights as further provided in section VII(D)(3) of this Agreement.

2.    If any children are born or adopted by Mr. Haven or Ms. Lord during the marriage, then and in such casein the event the parties’ marriage is dissolved and a court awards primary physical custody of any child(ren) under the age of twelve (12) to Ms. Lord, in acknowledgment of the reduced career opportunities that Ms. Lord would face due to the additional family responsibilities Ms. Lord would bear without the presence of Mr. Haven in the family/child(ren)’s primary home, Ms. Lord shall be entitled to fair and equitable spousal support (a.k.a. alimony) until the youngest child attains the age of twelve (12) to enable her to maintain her then existing standard of living.  In determining the fair and reasonable spousal support, the fact finder shall consider all of Mr. Haven sources of income, including those from his separate property, and shall consider only twenty-five percent (25%) of Ms. Lord’s income from all sources, including income derived from her separate property.  It is further agreed between the parties that Ms. Lord shall have no obligation to seek employment, or if employed at the time of divorce or later to remain so employed, nor shall Ms. Lord, if she chooses to be employed at any time be under any obligation to select employment with a goal of maintaining, increasing or maximizing her earnings.

7.    In the event any allegation of adulterous conduct leads to the termination of the marriage, the parties shall engage the services of an arbitrator who is a member of the American Association of Arbitrators or any other mutually agreed upon mediator prior to the division of marital property, to examine the facts of the allegation and to determine whether adultery occurred.  In the event of mutual allegations of adultery, the mediator shall identify any first occurrence of adultery.  In addition to sexual relations outside the marriage, the term adultery or adulterous behavior shall mean intimate, licentious, or romantic personal behavior or act involving a third party that the married individual would reasonably not feel comfortable performing in the presence of the spouse.  If the mediator determines that Mr. Haven has committed  the sole or first occurrence of adultery, Ms. Lord shall be entitled to 75 percent, and Mr. Haven shall be entitled to 25 percent, of the net value of the marital property.  If the mediator determines that Ms. Lord has committed  the sole or first occurrence of adultery, Mr. Haven shall be entitled to 75 percent, and Ms. Lord shall be entitled to 25 percent, of the net value of the marital property…

What was my biggest fear before signing on the dotted line?

That it would be me handing over 75% of my assets.

Consumption:

  1. To take in as food; eat or drink up
  2. To purchase (goods or services) for direct use or ownership
  3. To destroy totally; ravage
  4. To absorb; engross

This is what I want: I want a man to consume me.  For breakfast.  I want to wake up and instead of a morning poke from behind, I want to look across the pillow and see a man  who makes me smile.  I say “hi.”   And then he kisses me, just a peck on the lips and says “hi” back.  That’s how it will start.

Then the peck on the lips will move to a peck on the cheek, and the nose, and the forehead.  Followed by the ears,  and then the neck…I want every inch of my body kissed.  Under a big fluffy, white, soft as butter comforter.

What will this achieve?  Any man who does this will discover my trigger points, those specific spots on my body so sensitive that I am immediately disarmed.  This is will become part of his artillery.  And instead of having a quick morning fuck and me throwing off the comforter and feeling the urge to get on with my Saturday agenda, the entire morning will be spent having sex – and the morning will slip into the afternoon.

The problem with this scenario is that it can’t be done with just anyone.  There needs to be trust.  After all, I am offering myself as an entire meal.

If I’m not going to jump out of bed in the morning, I’m committing to staying in bed, with the man that lies there.   I can’t do this with a fuck buddy or a one-night stand or a friend with benefits.  That kind of sex seems bland and tasteless compared to what I’ve had and what I want.  So how do I achieve this?  I have to stop putting up the roadblocks and the walls and every defense mechanism I’ve used in the past and be open for consumption.  And yet every definition of the word consumption makes me recoil.  I am not willing to give up myself.

fight or flight response: the body’s primitive, automatic, inborn response to “fight” or “flee” from perceived attack, harm or threat for survival

My initial response to Dexter’s impropriety was to flee – first to my ex, literally. The night of the final blow-up (in which I learned information from a third-party source) involved me getting drunk, confronting Dexter, and becoming so enraged, I threw whatever I could get my hands on and refusing to let him come within 3 yards of me. When he told me to get out of his house, I drove drunk and emotionally irrational to my ex boyfriend’s. *Men, when threatened, will always use fiscal power, if they have it, against a woman.

The next day I decided to move out. I went home to my family. Over the course of the next several days, I eventually talked to Dexter. He knew he fucked up. People aren’t perfect – they make mistakes. And this was what I struggled with the most – if you love someone, do you allow them to make mistakes? I loved Dexter, at least what I knew to be love at the time. The fact is, Dexter had always had an indulgent personality. I knew this from the beginning, and his excessive drinking on occasion didn’t help. I never minded the indulgence when it involved the painting or the trip or the restaurant I wanted. But this time I didn’t benefit from it. I was publicly humiliated.

When I decided to stay with Dexter, to move back in, I continued to flee. I threw myself into work. I cared about me – pursuing my interests, my career, and my security. While that worked to boost my self-confidence, it did little to address my fractured relationship with Dexter. In the ensuing months, I dropped enough weight to draw concern from my family and friends. Everytime I tried to eat, I felt nauseous. I cried a lot. I couldn’t sleep.

Finally Dexter reached his threshold for me putting up walls. When he asked me to commit to working on the relationship, I asked him to commit to me. If he loved me so much, I wanted proof…tangible evidence…an engagement ring. He agreed. But he also wanted a pre-nup.

I understood his reasoning for wanting a pre-nup and the logical me agreed to and supported it. The problem was, I was too hurt to be logical. While two of my best friends were idyllically planning their weddings, I was hashing out the terms of alimony payments, how to prove infidelity and its cost (75% of all assets), and fighting over primary custody of imaginary offspring. My attorney told me only 50% of couples who go through a pre-nup actually get married. She said it’s tantamount to getting divorced before getting married. I’m still out on pre-nups. The businesswoman in me says yes, they are a necessary. But the romantic me…

At the same time, Dexter wanted input on engagement rings. He thought it would help with our reconciliation. I didn’t want one. Partly because I don’t believe in them. Partly because I didn’t want to be married (at the time, I didn’t have the perspective to realize this). What I did want, however, was proof that Dexter loved me. And I wanted vindication – a public proclamation of Dexter’s love and dedication to me and I would take no less than 3 carats. I am not a jewelry person. I do not care for ostentatiousness. But if Dexter could drop a few thousand for a few a hours with a woman he didn’t care about, he could add a zero to that amount for a lifetime with me. That was the fighter in me – that was me swinging back.

Engagements are supposed to be a happy time. When Dexter proposed, I put on a smile and went through the motions of being excited, but I felt like a third party watching it all unfold. And I wasn’t happy. I hadn’t been happy for a while. I had lost myself and it took the attention and affection from a male colleague 7 years my junior to realize how hallowed I had become.