My Better Half

There’s a saying that your significant other is your better half. I know it’s meant to be a compliment to them, but I’m beginning to realize that it’s really an insult to both of us. I’ve been downgraded by society since I got married. Somehow, I went from being a full, independent person to being viewed as half of a person.

Together, we are not two halves. We are two FULL people now unified by our commitment to each other. I refuse to accept that marriage has downgraded me to half a person.

But not everyone agrees. I lost a lot of friends when I got married. Suddenly, my single friends didn’t think we could hang out or relate. I didn’t change; my marital status did. I’m half a person to them (and now a stranger).

I also feel like I’ve been thrown away by others close to me. They think it doesn’t matter if I don’t have a career, because my husband will take care of me. But I didn’t waste thousands of dollars and four years in college just to throw away any aspiration of having my own career.

Even in the closest relationships, it’s important for both people to have some measure of independence and individual goals. Otherwise you end up co-dependent, which doesn’t allow for a healthy relationship.

I used to think feminists were just crazy ladies imagining inequality, but as I’ve gotten older, I see what they see. After all, I’m living in the gender gap. I’ve been thrown away, even by people who may not have meant to throw me away. Even by people who care about me. They care, but they don’t think I have what it takes to get by in the world on my own.

The better half of me has been disregarded. My better half consists of my skills, talents, drive, etc. Instead of being recognized for the better parts of me, I’m seen as only a woman. No one to take note of.

I practice target archery. Though I’m not the only female archer in my area, there tend to be more men than women. On one of our casual shoots, there was a guy I’d never met before. And I was the only female there.

Before we got started, he told me not to giggle during the shoot. It was a tasteless, sexist joke, but I smiled at him and brushed it off. Then he brought it up again mid-shoot. I still managed to shrug it off again, but afterwards it really bothered me.

He had no intention of taking me serious as an archer, despite the fact that I out-shot my husband at that shoot. This man saw me as some giggling schoolgirl instead of another competitor. I didn’t come there to giggle. I came there to shoot. Just like him and every other archer there. Why should I be considered the fool?

Think of how ridiculous he would sound if he said that to one of the guys. They wouldn’t have tolerated it. And honestly, I shouldn’t have either. I’m tired of being treated as a naive, foolish girl when I am a grown, capable woman. Yes, I compete with the men, because it’s about my skill level, not my gender.

This needs to stop. All these labels need to stop. A person cannot be fully described by one word. They are so much more than that. I am not just a female. He’s not just a gay man. She’s not just a mother. The list goes on.

We are so much more than the label forced upon us.

And that is what the world is truly afraid of.

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Photo credit: jjay69 / Source / CC BY-NC-SA

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Rock My World

There is such romanticism about foreign countries, especially when you are single. Long before I met my husband, I dreamed of meeting a foreigner who would marry me and take me far away from my humdrum life in the States. I’ve always been an adventure-seeker. And that sounded like the adventure of a lifetime.

Looking back on it, what I really wanted was someone to shake up my views and my world. I wanted to be challenged culturally and individually. I wanted someone to rock my world. And I got it.

I’m not jetting off to Australia for months at a time (maybe when we retire?), but I am having quite the adventure. Husband has shaken up my views in so many ways. We have come from very opposite sides of the spectrum in various ways. And we tend to pull each other closer to the middle ground.

I think there is a tendency to be less flexible when you are at either extreme. Just take two people with two very different opinions. If they are both fully convinced of their opposing views, they will not likely change those views after a debate. But when someone is in the middle ground, they are hearing and understanding both views, finding a place of understanding between them. And that place can shift as understanding shifts.

In some ways, like housework, this means the house is not as clean as I grew up with, but more organized than what Husband is used to. In bigger ways, I am less stingy when it comes to helping someone out financially, while he is more careful with his spending than he used to be. We balance each other out.

This relationship has shaken up our stiff views. Being with him has challenged the presumptions I’ve always held. It has forced me to back up what I believe. And that is fantastic. It has helped me foster my individuality. That’s not to say my thought process has been torn to shreds, but now I know more about where I stand and why. And sometimes I’m firmer in my original viewpoint than before. (I can’t say I stay in the middle ground all the time, but I don’t think anyone should linger there with every opinion.)

My husband is a procrastinator, while I’m more of a planner. I used to be stuck on the idea of something working out perfectly and in the perfect time. Now, I realize it’s going to happen when it happens and there’s not a lot I can do about it. For instance, he tends to push it when it comes to putting gas in his truck. There have been times when we barely made it to the next gas station. It used to fill me with sheer panic. I would imagine the worst-case-scenario and convince myself it would happen that way. My heart would race and I would wonder why I even decided to step into that truck at all.

Though I still hate it when he does this, I have learned to breathe and ride with it. Worrying is not going to help the situation. And it almost always works out in the end, even if it doesn’t come with the best immediate circumstances. He is teaching me to live as dangerously as I dream about. Talk about keeping me genuine. A true adventure-seeker doesn’t cry when the gas runs out. Now, as for helping him with the procrastinating….I’m still working on that.

Real adventure is never what you expect it to be. After all, the reason it is an adventure is because of the risk and the unknown direction. It’s not predictable or it wouldn’t be an adventure. I may not be hanging out Down Under, but I’ve still got my adventure right here. And he continues to rock my world.

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Photo credit: graphistolage / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND