I first learned in college how to waste space when trying to fill up the page with words so you can reach the goal of a ten-page term paper. Then I had one professor in graduate school who made it very difficult to fill up the page with nonsense. The instructions for her term paper were very specific: “Only one and a half inch margins on each side of the paper, use 12-point font in Times New Roman...” The instructions were so specific that I was finally able to understand why this professor had such a tough reputation: She actually wanted us to research and work! My friends and I felt sunk. Now we couldn’t stretch the paper with nonsense and 12.5 font, etc.
I’m going to follow suit here. I can fill up pages telling stories or trying to prove a point, but I will get to the point here and not waste space. There will be no funny analogies or examples from my dating life. This is an article regarding a very short conversation I had with someone who said something that I can’t disagree with more. So I will follow my own advice, which I give my daughter when I see she has gotten into my makeup case: Less is more.
A few weeks ago, I was discussing marriage with a few people. It wasn’t a deep discussion, and I don’t even remember how we came to be discussing this particular issue of marriage, but here we were. A woman in the group said something that stunned a few of us. She said, “In order for a marriage to work, someone has to be willing to give up everything.”
A nanosecond before I started to say something, the person to my right said, “That is the stupidest thing I ever heard.” She went on to say that if someone gives up “everything,” then one loses and one wins. How can a couple be happy if someone has given up everything for the other? She took the words out of my mouth. She went on to say more, but you can imagine what she said.
I waited and listened to the person to my right try to sway this woman who was not changing her philosophy of “In order for a marriage to work, someone has to be willing to give up everything.” I don’t have to tell you, my readers (See? A space waster – you know that you are reading my article and I don’t have to point it out. There! I did it again. Lol!) The only way for any relationship to work – between spouses or between friends – is with compromise. If you keep giving of yourself, you will have nothing left. Your identity may then be tied to the other person in the relationship. Who are you without him or her? What if that person moves away? Divorces you? You gave up everything and now you’re alone. What do you have left? (The children’s book The Giving Tree comes to mind. I never liked that book, because the boy/man/old man just kept taking!) Besides, even if you went along happily and don’t mind giving up everything (the tree), will you always remain so “happy”? Won’t you end up resenting the person that has it all while you have nothing? You may think not, but after a few years – or even after 20 years – you may (I am annoyed that the tree didn’t resent the boy at the end or call him out on his selfishness; is that what we are teaching children? Yeah, I get it, we now explain to our children; but why didn’t the tree stick up for itself? It couldn’t. It had nothing left. Space waster, lol!)
I knew that I was not going to convince the woman that her line of thinking was wrong. I wasn’t going to waste my breath and try to argue like the others. But I did ask one question: “Pray tell, who gave you these words of wisdom?” I actually said, “Pray tell.” I like to fancy up my vocabulary sometimes. The woman smiled and said, “my therapist.” I smiled and said, “He or she should get his license revoked!”
I wonder if whatever this woman had experienced in her marriage made her think that what the therapist told her was true. Maybe she needed to hear it and it worked for her, but it can’t be generalized to everyone or even most people. Unfortunately, the woman couldn’t understand that. I actually want to write pages more about this, but I’ll stop here. Less is more.
Hatzlachah to you all.