This will sound like bragging, but it’s not, because it really has nothing to do with me. I’m just stating a fact: My husband is really handsome — or as some of the younger girls put it, “really cute for an old dude.” And, granted, that is what initially made my heart go pitter-pat. But what made me fall seriously in love is how he makes me laugh. Often and until tears flow. And how he laughs along with me when I get my giggle-box turned over, which is pretty frequently these days. (With the political circus in this country, you’ll have to admit laughing can be better than crying, right?)
And how he gets my sense of humor and knows when I’m kidding and never thinks I’m (too) weird. How he thinks it’s cute instead of annoying when I cry at movies and books and never tries to boss me around. And never gets exasperated as I hop from one interest to the next or pull something like “I’m going to grad school this fall” on him.
I also really dig how smart he is. I’ve always gone for brains and talent over looks, truth be known, so the good looks are just a very pleasant bonus.
But most endearingly and importantly, he’s never tried to change me. That wasn’t the case with men in my adult life before John. Girls, women, do NOT change for a guy. You’ll be miserable, and at some point, you’ll revert to your true self, if you’re strong. If you don’t believe this old broad, maybe you’ll listen to the bard — “To thine own self be true.” It’s the only way to live.
And if you’re true to yourself and some man tries to change you, take the next train to splitsville, because you’ll be miserable. It’s not some guy’s job to remake you in the image he sees fit.
OK, so it works in reverse. Same thing applies to guys who have women who want them to change. That’s not what love is. That’s control, dysfunction or possibly codependency. But whatever you want to call it, make sure it’s at least a synonym for wrong.
“Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad?” is a great, great song, but it shouldn’t be a way to live.
So back to the humor goes a long way part:
John and I knew pretty instantly we’d boarded the Love Train, but I was skittish after having spent time in a couple of situations where being Laura was being wrong. I remember clearly helping Mother do dishes after a holiday dinner at her condo years ago, not too long after my divorce, and her telling me, “You’re so independent, it’ll take a special man to put up with you.” I took that as a compliment and wore it as a badge of honor, yet it made my red flag even more ready to pop up.
When John and I started getting openly serious, I used all kinds of reasons to explain why maybe we should just run for the hills. I mean, for heaven’s sake, he’s an Aries and I’m a Virgo! That’s totally wrong. John searched around the Internet until he found something that sounded fairly favorable for joining our sun signs, which struck me as so sweet that I dropped that argument. (It didn’t hurt his argument that the two previous relationships had been with highly compatible sun signs.)
Then I learned that he was not just the baby of the family, but that he’s the younger brother of an older sister!! And I’m the older sister of a sister! Anyone who knows anything about birth-order theory knows that’s just not going to work at all. John just laughed at that. Quite a bit, actually.
The third strike was when we did the Meyers-Briggs test in Please Understand Me II. Oh, no! He’s an Artisan and I’m an Idealist!! Disaster. The book predicted we’d start off strong, then he’d grow tired of my “airy-fairy” notions. “We might as well just break up now,” I pronounced, “rather than wait on that to happen.”
“Laura,” he said, as he held my forearm and looked me squarely and intently in the eyes, “I think we’ll be all right.”
He was right, of course. It was an airy-fairy notion that we wouldn’t.