Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The 90% Theory

I talked to Ellie the other day. {And when I say "the other day," I mean "about six weeks ago."} We mostly talked about college professors and politics, mostly I wanted to avoid the fact that she has a husband. However, eventually a lengthy silence descended, and she broke it by asking,

"So how are you and Sam?"

I told her we were good, and she got very serious very quickly. Marriage leaked into the conversation. Eventually I was forced to say,

"We're really good, Ellie, and I love him, but I don't KNOW that we'll get married. We have a little while."

"Oh yeah, definitely," Ellie said. "Getting married was the right step for me and Brian, but it's not for everyone right now. I don't think it's bad or weird when people wait."

"Yeah," I agreed, raising an eyebrow at the phone. "I don't think I'm ready to be married. We have to be sure."

"I guess," Ellie said in her matter-of-fact voice.  "Although I think marriage is mostly just a decision. I think 90% of people can make it work with 90% of other people if they decide to. You just have to choose to stick with it."

It's an interesting thought, and maybe it's true, but as Ellie and I talked, I started to get the feeling that she'd settled in her life, and she knew it. There might be people out there better suited for her than Brian, people who would make her laugh and be exciting and stretch her as a person. But she could make it work with Brian, and since she had married him, she would have to.

The weird thing? She didn't seem botherd by this, and I know that she isn't. She never put a lot of stock in romantic love, and absolutely forget physical love. {I thought she was going to pass out the first time I confessed that sex didn't sound disgusting.} Actully, come to think of it, I'm not sure she puts a lot of stock in any kind of love.

That's a pretty bold accusation coming from me, the girl who would rather pretend that she doesn't have emotions, and when she does, they're primarily negative. But Ellie...she's always been very emotionally detached. Even when her parents divorced for a while. Even when her brother walked out on their family. Even when we were best friends and never saw each other.

Don't get me wrong, she's very LOYAL. I can mostly count on her to talk to me and help me and reason with me any time I need her, but as far as actual FEELINGS...she doesn't seem to have those.

But she's not a hardened or bitter person. It's not like she went through Hell one time and came out cold and untouchable. She's a healthy, functional person. She just happens to be devoid of emotion.

The point of that rant was to explain why I think she isn't bothered by her "meh" marriage. {I mean, maybe Brian's more fun than he seems, but when you refuse to hang out with teenagers and your idea of a good time is shoving election signs in the ground...}

Maybe Ellie's right. Maybe 90% of the population could marry anyone from 90% of the population and not have it end in divorce. But...


I don't want to marry someone from 90% of the population just because I can. I want to marry one person because I'm crazy about him, and I think we fit each other better than 100% of the rest of the world. I don't want to spend the rest of my life watching guys walk by, thinking "Huh. He probably would have done the trick just as well."

I'm not a hopeless romantic. I'm a cynic. But good gosh. If you don't hope for a marriage that's perfect FOR YOU, what DO you hope for?



  1. I think I'm with you on this one, girl. I don't want to settle. I know that God has someone planned for me and I want to be sure before I make any promises. But at the same time, I do think that once you get married to a person you should stay married to that same person because you did make promises to them that you would be there for better and for worse.

  2. I agree with you and Natalie 100% .
    I refuse to settle. I'm going to be very picky about whom I chose to date and eventually marry. but even more than that, whoever i chose, will be my husband forever. I won't quit when things get tough. I refuse to.

  3. I agree with Natalie. I've seen those couples where it's not really working but they're fighting their way through (which I admire) and those who seemed to be fated for each other and were lucky enough to find each other.

    That being said I don't think there is anything wrong with being content with who you're with (which I don't think is the same as settling) or would be settling for the wrong reason. Some settle because they don't think they deserve or will get anyone better and so take what they can get, and others may settle because they simply don't aim very high.

    Perhaps Ellie thinks it's a mistake, perhaps not. Whatever her emotional motivations are, if they work to have a good marriage for them then more power to them.

    Does it seem like she's pushing you to make the same decision she did?

  4. Life's not short enough to spend it with someone you're completely in love with.