Wednesday, September 25, 2013

This 300 Sandwiches Thing

Have you heard about it?

There is a lovely woman -- in her mid-30's -- who is dating this dude.  He apparently loves sandwiches.  She explains that, to him, sandwiches mean love.  Like hugs or kisses or sex.  I guess they have this deal.  He told her that if she makes him 300 sandwiches, he'll get her an engagement ring.  He says that women think it's so hard to keep a guy, but it's really not.  All you have to do, according to this man, is do something nice for him -- like make a sandwich.

Are you choking on your Coca-Cola.  I pretty much did.

Now, to be fair, I do not know this couple.  I do not know their relationship.  I don't know this guy's heart or his sense of humor.  But, this is what I see.  I see a guy living with a woman, having sex with her, and getting her to make him all these sandwiches.  And she is doing it all (especially the sandwich part) because, in her heart of hearts, she wants what a lot of women want -- a happy marriage and family life.  And he knows it.  And he has her dancing like a puppet on a string.  What a louse.

A good man will not buy you an engagement ring because you do nice things to keep him.  Now, I grant you, when you love someone, you do nice things for that person.  But, NOT because he requires you to do them to earn his love and commitment.  A good man will buy you an engagement ring because he wants to give himself wholeheartedly and unreservedly and permanently to you -- as a gift.  An UNCONDITIONAL gift.  Of course, he would hope that you would love him and give yourself to him in the same way.  But, it doesn't have anything to do with making sandwiches.  Or granting sex privileges.  There is no price or cost for the gift of unconditional love.  You don't dangle love like a carrot in front of somebody and tell them to jump through hoops to get it.  That is emotional manipulation.

I have been married for 26 years.  Do I have a perfect marriage?  No.  It has had, and will continue to have, its ups and its downs.  My parents were married for over 50 years.  Their marriage also had its good and bad times, its happy and sad years.  And from my own marriage and that of my parents, I have learned a few things.  Being married and staying married and loving your spouse never involves an "I will love you if you do x, y, or z for me" attitude.  Loving your wife means hauling the TV into the bedroom when she is in the first trimester of pregnancy, where you can watch your football games while simultaneously stroking her hair, so she will not feel alone and abandoned while she lies exhausted and nauseated in the bed.  Love means comforting your wife if she has to carry the almost unbearable crosses of infertility or pregnancy loss.  Love means seeing your wife's beauty if she loses her hair due to chemotherapy.  Love means holding your wife close to you in bed if there is a time when she is not able to have sex with you due to a health problem.  Loving your wife means taking a few minutes before you go to work in the morning to help her clean up the barf from the toddler's stomach bug.  True family love means helping the kids with the homework assignments that reduce them to tears, picking nits out of their hair during the school-wide lice infestation, attending countless early morning or late night soccer practices, listening enthusiastically to your children as they enthusiastically learn to play the accordion, or sitting by their beds in surgical recovery rooms as they undergo repeated procedures for congenital orthopedic conditions.  Real marital and family love involves a lot of fun, to be sure.  But, it also involves a great deal of self-sacrifice, of putting "the other" first, of patience, of compassion.

So, I guess what I am saying is that even though dating and engagement should be a joyful, happy, fun time, it should also carry with it some of the attitude that will enable that initial, exuberant, feet-off-the-floor love to become a lasting, life-long, committed love.  And an essential part of that attitude is learning to view the other person in the correct manner -- with respect, dignity, and appreciation.  You need to learn to serve, rather than be served.  And demanding sandwiches in return for an engagement ring -- a beautiful gift that is a sign of a commitment to a life-long, selfless love -- is no part of this equation. 

I see around me these days many young women (and, by young, I mean ages 22 to 35) who really want to marry and have a family.  And I see a lot of guys with the attitude of "Mr. Sandwich."  And I see these young women bending over backwards to please these guys, to earn their love, to get that ring with all that it promises.  And I have seen a lot of disasters unfold, which are especially sad when they take place after the wedding ceremony has been held and the babies have arrived.  So, I just want to encourage you beautiful, young women to have some confidence and self-respect.  See yourselves as being worthy of the truly good love of a truly good man.  Real love does not involve "party trick deal-making."  And as my father said -- many, many times -- "It is better to be single than to marry the wrong guy." 

And to you guys who are good guys who have been messed with by less-than-good women, I apologize if I sound like I'm being too hard on men in this post.  I know that many men are very, very good -- worthy "husband material."  And I know that there are women who seem more interested in the ring and the dress and the reception than in the actual marriage.  That sucks, too.  So, basically, it goes both ways.  Good marriages start with people of good character who are authentically good to each other.

Finally, here are a few questions to ask yourself:

For The Women --
     1. Would he still stay with you and consider marrying you if you didn't make him any sandwiches?
     2. Would he still stay with you and consider marrying you if you didn't sleep with him?
     3. Is he the kind of man who would stay with you if you were infertile or had other types of health problems?
     4. Is he the kind of man who would appreciate your beauty even if you had some stretch marks and hemorrhoids from child-bearing?  How about as you get older?
     5.  Is he the kind of man who would treat you with affection (both emotional and physical), even if you couldn't have sex for a little while -- such as after giving birth?
     6.  Is he the kind of man who would be a good father -- putting his children's needs before his own?
     7.  Is he patient, even-tempered, and good-humored?
     8.  Does he make you feel cherished and accepted JUST AS YOU ARE?

For The Men --
     1. Would she still want to marry you even if you couldn't afford an engagement ring or a fancy honeymoon?
     2.  Does she care about your work, your stresses, your anxieties -- or are you just a source of fun and entertainment?
     3.  What is more important to her -- your happiness or the home decor?
     4.  Does she make a habit out of gossip?
     5.  How does she react to the antics of Miley Cyrus?  (a.k.a. -- Is she compassionate?)
     6.  Is she the kind of woman who would be a good mother -- putting her children's needs before her own?
     7.  Is she patient, even-tempered, and good-humored?
     8.  Does she make you feel cherished and accepted JUST AS YOU ARE?

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