I've come to the conclusion that I should never have gotten married. I'm not good with relationships. I seem to have very high expectations of the men in my life, and for the most part, have managed to scare them all off.
The one good man in my life is my dad. He hasn't yet been scared away, but I do notice that he keeps himself at a safe distance. Maybe that's why he's still good. He learned not to get close enough to get burned. I can't say we were particularly close growing up. My childhood memories are of a man who would come home from work, kiss my mom, get changed, and play. He let us crawl all over him. He would be our horse, our wrestling buddy, our serenador. He loved the guitar and he loved to sing. He wasn't necessarily good at either, but that didn't stop him. He would strum away while singing favorite folk songs. But, I wasn't "Daddy's Little Girl" ever. My oldest sister was his princess by birthright and the younger ones were just so adoringly charming that he couldn't help but love them. Me, well, I was a mess. A tomboy at heart, but so clumsy that I was a danger to myself and most household objects.
As I grew through the teen years, I just became more awkward - both physically and socially. We lived in a small hispanic town surrounded by Indian pueblos. Blonde-haired, blue-eyed, anomally. Yes, I know very well what it is like to live as a minority. My dad gave me lots of rope and, I suppose, hoped I wouldn't actually hang myself. I did multiple times, much to his chagrin. Yet, I never felt that I had actually disappointed him. I wonder, even now, how much he just pretty much expected I would do anyway. I wasn't particularly rebellious. I do remember one particular Halloween night when me and four friends told our parents we were each sleeping at someone else's house. We actually spent the majority of the night running through the town, avoiding the cops, ding-dong ditching, and eventually crashing out on the floor of another friend's living room. Dad probably knew before I got home the next day, but he's never said anything to me about it.
My interest in boys started in junior high, but since I wasn't allowed to date until I was 16, nor was I considered datable until even later, I mostly just flirted harmlessly. I did get a boyfriend my junior year. He was a younger man. He was a friend of a friend and was on the basketball team. I was on the drill team so we had a lot of afternoon practices. He lived in Pena so we flirted and eventually hooked up while waiting for our rides. Since he lived so far away and I didn't have my driver's license yet, our "dating" was relegated to the school campus. He eventually broke up with me because a senior girl wanted him and was willing to sleep with him to get him. I wasn't willing to sleep with him to keep him so he made his choice. He still used my locker for his stuff, and I was fine with that until he thought it would be okay to store his new girlfriend's stuff in it as well. I admit, I overreacted. Her stuff went on the hallway floor, his stuff went in the trash, and my friend and I switched locks. He didn't understand. Schmuck!
I stayed away from dating until I went away to college. Yes, I did go to my senior prom with a guy who wasn't my cousin. He was a friend from church, who admittedly I had had a crush on since he attended my older sister's 16 year birthday party. He also drove a motorcycle. But there wasn't any romantic interest on his part and so I enjoyed dancing with him at prom but soon after lost touch with him. Not enough heartache to be considered a schmuck.
College was full of schmucks. One of my favorites was the guy who dated me because of rumors that he was gay. I don't know whether or not he was, but I did find it interesting that I had heard nothing of the rumors until after we started dating and shortly after we broke up, he was removed from school. The one episode that really peeved me was the afternoon he had come into the apartment. The rule was that the curtains had to stay open if there was a guy in the dorm room. I had gone back to my bedroom to get something and while there, the phone rang. The person identified herself as one of the RAs and asked if there was a guy in the apartment. I said yes and she told me I needed to open the curtains. Sure enough, while I had gone to the bedroom, he had closed the curtains. Schmuck!
Another favorite was the one who started his romantic endeavors a week before Valentine's Day. I got teddy bears, hearts full of chocolate, and a date to the Sweetheart Dance. That night, after the dance, he walked me back to the apartment but then told me he wouldn't let me in unless I kissed him. So I kissed him on the cheek but he said he wanted more. It really wasn't about wanting to kiss him, it was that he used it as a way to keep me out of my house. So I told him he wasn't going to get more and he wasn't keeping me out of my house. I got a proposal from him two days later. He told me he had prayed about it and that we were supposed to get married. I told him I would pray as well, and did so, but wasn't surprised to get a resounding no. He was so surprised. Schmuck!
Not all the guys in college were schmucks, but I didn't find any long-lasting relationships there. The ones I was interested in didn't return the favor, and the ones who wanted me learned quickly that they didn't really. So after spending three years at college for a two-year degree which didn't include my MRS, I came back home. That was probably my biggest mistake. I had lived for three years rather independently and now was being stifled by a mother who thought I should somehow provide her with a daily agenda. It's no wonder I rebelled and moved out and then moved on.
I started dating a senior in high school. I should know better but it was just supposed to be a summer fling until I went on my mission. He wasn't even a member of the church, though he did take the discussions and was later baptized. I was supposed to leave in February for Japan, he proposed Christmas Eve in front of his whole family. Should've gone on the mission.
Needing some space, I moved to California and eventually returned the ring. I dated off an on, sometimes seriously, but usually not. I managed to end every relationship on somewhat good terms - as good as you can when you are telling someone you're just not that interested. Then I met a wonderful guy. But I was in a protective mode and he was having fun playing the field. We weren't exclusive, but I think most people in the single's ward thought we were. The scene embedded in my brain forever is when a good guy friend of mine came up to me at volleyball night and offered me congratulations. I had no idea what he was talking about so he quickly explained that he had heard "wonderful guy" was engaged and just assumed it was to me. Well, wonderful guy was engaged, but it wasn't to me. Would've been nice to have been on his list of people to tell before announcing it to the world. Schmuck!
Now on the rebound, I play hard at volleyball and end up breaking a guy's foot. Six weeks later we were married. After three years and one child, he tells me he's having second thoughts about being married. I tell him he better figure it out. If he's going to leave, he needs to leave now; if he's going to stay, he'd better be committed for life. Two more years and another child and he tells me that "God says we should get a divorce." Yeah, okay. Schmuck!
Not wanting to make another rebound error, I stay single for two years. Not a lot of dating since it's hard being a single mom and finding time for a relationship. I thought I'd found my soulmate with an old friend, but drinking at topless bars ranked high on his list of fun things to do, so that ended rather quickly. Next schmuck was the guy who came off as the perfect mormon boy. RM, divorced himself with 4 beautiful kids. Forgot to mention he had been excommunicated for adultery.
Finally I met the guy I'm now married to. We dated for over a year and his relationship with his kids and mine seemed perfect. Well, maybe not perfect, but normal. He was attentive, helpful, funny, sweet. He wrestled, he played, he swam. He didn't play the guitar or sing, but he reminded me so much of my own dad. So I prayed and he prayed and we both were told this was a good thing. Okay, my actual answer was "He is the right man in time." Maybe I jumped the gun. Maybe he was right but just not right then. Maybe he will be right if I just stick it out. Or maybe I just should never have gotten married. Maybe I'm the problem in all of this with my high expectations for what a dad should be. I don't want him to be a schmuck, but it's nicer than some other words I can think of.