It’s Finally Over (4): Basic Human Needs
Looking at Marriage in a Glass Half-Full / Glass Half-Empty Way

Get Your Words Off Me: Excerpt One

In the very late 70’s, I graduated from high school in New York City at seventeen and went off to college in Buffalo. At twenty, I got my BA in English. Two months later, I took off on my version of the ‘grand tour,’ traveling by myself in Israel, England, Scotland and Ireland. At twenty-two, I moved to Israel, a country whose language and culture I barely understood, and where I knew only a handful of people. My parents did not try to stop me, they respected my decision (and, I suppose, my ability to make it on my own), and stood proudly by (or so they claimed) as I packed my things into a bright red backpack and took off to live in a country seven time zones away. It seems that I had become quite the adventurous introvert.

So how did this person who did not need her parent’s permission or guidance to move half-way across the world come to need to explain to her husband where she was going for an hour? How did I go from packing a backpack for a year without a guidebook in sight, to not going anywhere unless the itinerary was discussed ahead of time? How did I go from seeing Broadway shows by myself to sitting at home waiting for my husband to come home? And, how did I go from purchasing—and wearing—a bright yellow straw hat to needing my husband’s okay to buy a pair of black slacks?

Am I exaggerating, did I really need permission or did I just want to please him and so yielded to his desires? Or was it more, was it a feeling he conveyed that made me not want to antagonize him, not want to get on his bad side, not want to pit myself against him? No, it was definitely more than a feeling, it was a stance; his concerns were always right and my lack of worries was always wrong. So this impulsive woman, who could not always explain her choices and actions, became as a pawn to this man who lived life as if it were a chess game, planning all moves ahead of time. He gained control because of the dynamics of the kind of person he is with the kind of person I am. We were opposites attracting and then turning against each other; until we were rent apart as he sought to retain control over me while I sought to regain control over myself.

Some of it may come from his growing up in a patriarchal society (Israel). But why, then, did he chose to be with me, when I openly worked to subvert that kind of man-centric society? And what about me, why didn’t I realize that his concerns indicated more than caring but a need to control? Oh, to be young and in love. It can be a curse.



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