What It’s About

I did something extremely idiotic that cost us a shitload of money. I feel so stupid. But there wasn’t a word, a look or a sigh of reproach from N. He realized I was suffering and feeling very guilty, and didn’t try to make me feel worse.

This is what it’s about, folks. It’s not about stupid voting or having the same hobbies.

It’s about having somebody in your life who understands that sometimes you are a massive screwup, and accepts it, and helps you deal with the consequences without a pointed sigh or a martyred look. It’s about the great relief of having chosen once and for all and not having to choose any more. It’s about having a place where you are accepted by default because you can’t be swapped for a better, more convenient model.

I don’t screw up often but when I do, I go all out.

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7 thoughts on “What It’s About”

  1. I can see how voting doesn’t matter in Ukraine because most politicians are corrupt and so is the system. Even if a given politician is honest, he/she alone can’t change the system. I feel that bringing this attitude here is exporting the problem.

    It was obvious to me by the time I was a teenager that real power comes from having money. You’re not as influenced by government policies. For example, if abortion is outlawed, you can just fly to another country where it’s legal and pay to have it done there. I thought that this should be obvious to everyone and people who didn’t think this way and try their best to pursue a lucrative profession were naive and stupid.

    Eventually I realized how much my thinking was shaped by growing up in a country where having money or influence was the only way to shape the course of your life and regular citizens were completely powerless. The big difference between developed countries and places like the former USSR is that here regular citizens do have some power via voting and politicians are actually held somewhat accountable.

    Public perception and messaging matters. You have to be somewhat of an idealist and act as though people’s votes matter more than they do and keep fighting for them to matter. If we as a society don’t do that, people in general will become more cynical, vote less, politicians won’t be held accountable at all, and the country will become more like Putin’s Russia.

    It’s kind of like telling kids that drugs are bad and they will become addicted. There are plenty of people who do recreational drugs and are productive members of society. How effective do you think is telling kids “if you do drugs you may be totally fine, but for some people it will end up very badly”?

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    1. I haven’t been to Ukraine for 20 years. I left when I was very young.

      This isn’t about Ukraine or politics. It’s about the meaning of marriage. People are depriving themselves of something wonderful if they don’t even try to figure out what its supposed to be like.

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  2. I understand — I’m sorry, in retrospect, I didn’t focus on the theme of your post.

    I agree that what you describe is what marriage should be about. I agree that in most cases hobbies don’t matter much.

    I can’t qualify things that matter that categorically. We both agree that the main values of the couple should align. But I think that some hobbies or votes (or lack of them) reflect/express your main values, and that is the reason you’re not suited as a couple, not the hobby itself.
    What you described is necessary but not sufficient for many people, including myself in a marriage.

    You’ve spent your childhood in Ukraine, as have I (I moved to Canada just in time to start high school). It wouldn’t matter if it’s been 40 years since: your childhood influences you to a great extent.

    Over the years I have understood how much it has shaped my views and how much of what I thought were my intrinsic traits were in large part the result of trying to escape circumstances that were making me miserable. I’m a high-achieving immigrant like you, and if I were born here to a happy family in a rich country, I would’ve likely been completely average and much happier, just like the people you and I look down on now.

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    1. “and if I were born here to a happy family in a rich country, I would’ve likely been completely average and much happier, just like the people you and I look down on now.”

      I battle with this a lot when it comes to my kids. I want them to be healthy and happy and I want them to find their own path, which means giving them a lot of freedom in choosing what they do. On the other hand, it drives me fuckin’ bananas that they’re wasting the enormous potential they have by way of good genes and a stable upper-middle-class upbringing. I fear that they will grow up to be completely unremarkable, and that’s something that I, as a high-achieving immigrant, have a really hard time making peace with. I know it’s my problem, not theirs, but it’s really hard to not see some of your own best traits (e.g., I am very ambitious and I never give up on anything I decided to pursue) in your kids.

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      1. I think about this a lot, too. I know how to transmit intelligence, knowledge, and good working habits. But I have no idea how to transmit the hunger and the ambition. I’ll ask the analyst if I get a moment when I don’t have to talk about my neuroses.

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        1. I don’t think you can. Your kids’ motivation for what they do in life has to come from within and it’s one of the things you have to leave alone and let them discover for themselves, or else you’ll mess them up.

          Your job as a parent is to give them all the tools, model good habits, and teach them critical thinking. You should support them when they need it and provide feedback (when they ask for it and sometimes not). The rest is fate – when you decide to have kids you take a risk they may end up disappointing you in various ways.

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