And women are just men with breasts. Essentially. I know there are other differences, but honestly, we are so much more alike than we are different. Unconsciously, though, I often find myself putting men in to a not-so-flattering box.
As I watched these newlyweds (see previous post) strolling down the beach hand in hand, holding hands over breakfast, swimming together in the pool, certain thoughts pushed their way through the crowds to the forefront of my brain, popping out center stage:
"I wonder if that guy knows how desperately she loves him."
"I wonder if he's checking out some of these other hot women in bikinis on the beach."
"I wonder if these two know how hard it is to sustain a marriage."
Not exactly warm-and-fuzzy honeymoon thoughts, huh? In fact, they are pretty awful thoughts. I was shocked, myself, to hear them proclaim themselves in my brain as I sat next to Bubba. Bubba, who has stood beside me offering his helping hand every single time I needed it. Bubba, who loves our children without bounds and never fails to tell them. Bubba, who loves me, too.
But, wait! Some ancient segment of my brain screams. Men leave! They never love us as much as we love them. They don't need us. They always leave. It's just a matter of when, not if.
She's the one I need to convince. She isn't sure that Bubba will stay forever. She has sat by and had her heart and spirit broken as her father left, her stepfather left, her brother checked out. She fell in love for the first time and kept some parts of herself sacred, not sharing so that she couldn't get burned again. Just as she began to trust this relationship tentatively and spun out a silky fine string of need, she missed. He turned and left and the end of that tether fell softly to the ground. No matter that it didn't make any noise - she felt it as though it were the collapse of a two-ton bridge. A steel door slamming shut. Men leave.
All evidence to the contrary pings off that steel door like balls of rubber cement thrown by first graders. She's not opening up.
Turning away from that door, I began watching these couples play together, talk to each other, look at each other with humor and tenderness. My heart relaxed, the corners of my mouth turned up and I was able to see them with an appreciation of this perfect moment - they love each other now. Maybe, just possibly, he loves her as much as she loves him. Maybe he needs her a little bit. Maybe he thinks of her as the best thing in his life. Maybe being with her makes him want to be the kind of person she thinks he is. Maybe men don't always leave. Maybe they are just like us, only with testicles.