Wednesday, May 22, 2013

A Question Of Need

Last Saturday was a crazy day, starting way too early with a soccer tournament in East Jesus for Thing One and ending with dinner at a friend's house, with a baseball game, a soccer practice, a playdate, and a few other things sandwiched in between.  (I really do need my Mondays to recover from these weekends...)

Anyway, the friend who had us over for dinner that night is a single mother of one son, who is a few months older than Petunia.  Her ex left her a few years back and they subsequently divorced.  At the time, we were convinced that he was either having a midlife crisis or secretly gay (he is very metro) but it came out much later that he had dumped her for his younger, blonde secretary.  Can anyone say cliche??

For some reason, this subject came up at dinner on Saturday.  The general consensus has always been that her ex was nuts for leaving, since our friend is attractive, loving, a fantastic homemaker and a generally really great person.  It was one of those situations where, as an outsider looking in, you scratch your head and say to yourself, "Well, he's just thrown away the best relationship he's ever likely to have."  Especially since mental illness runs rampant in his family and he has more baggage than your average airline.

There was a slightly older couple at dinner, brought by another friend.  I'd never met them before.  They are probably in their mid-50s.  After listening to the discussion, the husband commented (not in my friend's hearing, fortunately) that her husband had probably left her because she did everything for him and for them (he went to work, she took care of everything else) and he didn't feel needed.

As much as that comment annoyed me (it's been pricking under my skin since Saturday), I have to admit that there may have been some justice to it.  The secretary involved had a very messed-up life, and my friend's husband may have felt all knight-in-shining-armor-like, "rescuing" her from a bad life situation.  My friend, unlike the secretary, actually has her shit together, and comes from a good, stable family, unlike the ex.  It may well be that the secretary makes the ex feel like a big shot and puts him on some kind of pedestal.

But if that's the case, all I can say to my friend is "Good riddance."  Why would you want to be married to anyone that needy and insecure?

Or maybe I have it wrong.  I love my husband dearly and would be absolutely devastated if anything happened to him.  I deeply appreciate how hard he works to support us and what a good father he is and what a good human being he is (and tell him so, regularly.)  But I want to be married to an equal, not somebody whose ego I need to be constantly feeding.  Somebody who appreciates my abilities and accomplishments, not somebody who feels like his manhood is threatened by them.  

Do I have it wrong?  Do men inherently need to be needed?  Is it one of those caveman DNA relics??



  1. Hm. I do think there is a balance to be had. My husband is pretty confident, but part of that confidence comes from the fact that my own weaknesses are flagrant. So basically he feels comfortable being himself around me, failings and all. I think sometimes when one person has their act SO together and the other is full of baggage, they can feel like they can never measure up. So the guy might not be that off-base.

    And obviously the solution is not for her to stop being herself, they were probably just mismatched.

  2. I think you're right, Jennie. He may well have felt like he'd never measure up with my friend, whereas he could be more comfortable with somebody more like himself. I'm sad for the child involved, but it really does seem like both of them are better off now!


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