I’m a student of human nature. Weird, but totally true. When chatting with a military woman my husband and I met in the lobby of the Westin in Atlanta, I was much more interested in her opinion about the new military BDU’s (or whatever they’re now called… APC’s?) than her weaponry. (My husband, vice versa.) See, she noted that her big concern about the new uniform wasn’t about the uniform at all, but rather about the behavior it no longer inspired. In the old days, new recruits spent hours shining their shoes and pressing their uniforms. In her eyes, it led to more discipline.
I obviously can’t disagree with her, but I suspect the effect had a little more subtlety. I think it was easier to spot those who weren’t disciplined. Does that make sense? The state of one’s uniform used to be an indicator of one’s discipline, so a CO could scan the group and quickly identify those who were slacking. Not anymore, not since uniforms were issued in wrinkle-free, crease-free, shine-free materials. And I suspect putting all of those hours into making one’s uniform perfect inspired a certain pride, the kind that makes you stand taller and walk with more purpose.
Sort of like when I go to work dressed for my kind of altercation – in three-inch heels, a pencil skirt, and a silky shirt hidden under a suit jacket.
I’ve been married almost a year, and despite the multitude of successes we’ve had together, I still don’t think of us as, well, an “us.”
“We like greenish gray paint colors,” said my neighbor. Odd, I thought, to have an opinion as a couple on something like paint colors. I started to wonder if we should have a joint opinion on paint colors.
“We want to start trying for kids at the end of the year,” said my friend. Hmmmm, I thought. We’ve had discussions about when to have kids, but I don’t think of it that way.
This relationship of ours has been a very independent one from the beginning. Despite my husband’s boyish charms (and, ahem, tendency for pouting), I’ve never felt like I was responsible for him like with my first husband. I had my life — an independent life I didn’t want but learned to defend — and he had his, and though we had love in common, very few of our things intersected.
Except money, sort of. And the new house. And our wedding.
Every intersection became a huge battle, one we didn’t expect and didn’t fully embrace. We each thought we were fighting on behalf of “us,” but really, we were trying valiantly not to lose ourselves. Our fights were about self vs. team; me vs. us; mine vs. ours.
So we never really became a “we.”
And now, a year later, I feel like I’ve just been let in on an inside joke: we’ve been a “we” all along, I just didn’t see it. I’m still me as his wife, no need to defend. My initial reaction to polarize and prepare – he likes the orange curtains, I want to paint the fireplace, he likes the knotty pine, I’m not ready for kids – just isn’t necessary anymore.
Much like the behavioral change inspired by the uniforms, my attitude is derived from my mental wordplay. I’m ready to make a change.
It’s true that he was fired up about going on a cruise while I preferred the B&B experience, but it’s also true that we are very excited to go on an anniversary trip to someplace warm because we need a break from our lives. He may prefer to watch movies while I’d rather wallow in serial TV episodes, but we really enjoy having people over for drinks on the patio. And we aren’t ready for kids, even though my hormonal-free life might lead him to declare he’d be fine if we were pregnant now (but, ahem, that’s really only to avoid having to use the dreaded c*ndoms).
Did you see how I polarized that last statement? Argh. Much work is left to be done.
I suspect some people become a “we” as soon as they exchange vows — or sooner — but not me. I needed a year of doing it to believe it.
How about you? When did you internalize the “we” part?