“I really didn’t date any girls, because it was more about what I wanted to have the freedom to do, not necessarily what I was able to do!”
When I was going to college I knew lots of people who were always changing their major from one semester to the next. Four, five years would go by and you’d get your degree, and they’d still be spinning their wheels because they were searching for the perfect thing or the perfect fit. Whatever that might be. And their idea about what that was for them wasn’t clear, and so they kind of bounced from one thing to the next and never actually completed anything. I think there’s so much to be said for just completing something. It doesn’t have to be the perfect thing. It just needs to be done. And then you can go on to the next thing.
When I was young I struggled with that from a relationship standpoint. I got with my future wife when I was eighteen—she was almost twenty. She had already been engaged to her high school sweetheart—they had dated for four and a half years. When we got together, that was her perspective: You get together and you’re going to get engaged and get married. That’s what she wanted. Can you imagine being eighteen and just getting ready to go to college and some girl you’re dating wants you to be committed and married? That wasn’t comfortable for me, and I certainly didn’t know if she was “the one.” We dated a while and our first few years were insanely rocky. Constant arguments, constant fighting, breaking up, on and off again, time after time. I just did not want to commit to her, because I felt I was going to be missing out on the perfect person for me. I kept thinking, “There might be somebody out there that’s even better, that I’m going to love even more, or be fascinated with.” I was simply worried that I was missing out. I’d meet other girls at school and I’d think, “Wow, that girl, she’s fascinating, she’s pretty, she’s this, she’s that. Maybe I want to be with her.”
After a few years of that, we finally got to the point where we said, “All right, we’re going to date other people,” because I kept pushing for it and I didn’t want to commit. So she dated a few guys. I really didn’t date any girls, because it was more about what I wanted to have the freedom to do, not necessarily what I was able to do! And of course, her dating other guys sent me through the roof. I started thinking about it, and saying, “Well, if I ever wrote down the criteria, does she meet these things? Is she loving, and caring, and honest, and pretty, and all of these things I really want in a woman?” I kept coming to the same answer of “Yes, she is.” And so I came to the realization that it didn’t have to be perfect. What I had was really good. Great even. But it never would be perfect, because everyone has got their own shit. It doesn’t matter who you get with—there’s going to be something that’s not perfect. It’s just the way it is. But so many things were good or great with her that it was enough. We talk about that in psychology a lot, about the good-enough parent—she was the good-enough wife. Things don’t always have to be perfect, and in fact they’re never going to be. Realizing this, I was able then to quit searching for something perfect and to go all in. And commit completely.
I was 23 then and I got married when I was 24. I don’t know if I had enough life experience, but I felt certain that I was making the right choice. I clearly remember thinking—you know, it’s like when you have to make the big decision and you mull it over and you mull it over, right, and you keep thinking about it for days and weeks and finally, you shift over to the other side and the decision kind of solidifies in your mind? And it’s like: “This is the decision.” That’s the way it felt for me. And the moment I did that our relationship shifted completely and it’s just continued to flourish and blossom ever since. Before, I always considered her a crazy bitch, you know? “Man, this girl is nuts. I’m sick and tired of all the nuts, the craziness.” But once I committed it all went away. I changed, and then she changed in response to that. And I’m obviously glad that I did, because here we are, gosh—we got together when I was 18, I’m 42, so I mean, we’ve been together forever.