Sunday, February 7, 2010

Epiphanies come in the strangest ways

My Dad came by this evening to drop the monkey off and have dinner with me. We chatted about minor things and then the discussion went to my elder single brother. My parents are stressed about the whole singleness of him and his lack of desire to settle down, have children with a white picket fence. Thing is my brother is ambitious and as an ambitious individual myself I understand his frustration in relationships which I tried explaining to my dad. If you're ambitious and are dating / married to an ambitious individual it can be hard on a relationship because of the numerous competing interests. Exhibit A being being the mister and I.

I can honestly say that if Mr.SM and I did not get married when we did, we would not be together today. My interests would've taken me elsewhere, my focus on my career combined with his focus on his career and our social lives would've left little time for each other and I'm not sure that we would've stuck it through. I know that during my masters studies, it was such a relief not to have to make time to "date". I didn't have to worry about having to choose between partying with my friends and seeing my boyfriend. I was married and spent time with Mr.SM every morning and night. Sometimes we did our thing on own thing on the weekends, sometimes we didn't. As we've grown together, we've made comprises for each other. If I was single, but the same person I am now, I know I wouldn't make these compromises for someone today. I think my brother has been single for so long he's not willing to compromise. To which my dad suggested that my brother date someone less ambitious. My brother has tried this and tends to get into issues because his dating partner will be exasperated by his long hours. Its hard if you're the one sitting at home waiting for your partner to be done. Or having your plans cancelled because something at work came up. I get this too because Mr.SM is working 2 jobs and I get shafted. Which is when the epiphany came. My Dad, being the protective father he is, expressed frustration at how much Mr.SM works at the family business without monetary compensation. I had to explain to my dad how it is Mr.SM's dream to be able to grow his family's business to the point that him and his brothers can each pull out six figure salaries. The business is currently not big enough to do that and because I'm a graduate student, Mr.SM can not give up his day job to work full time at making his dream. He has to work to pay for our mortgage, daycare, monkeys extracurricular activities etc. Which is when it hit me. I get so frustrated that Mr.SM isn't home, isn't doing x,y or z at home but he's literally working 2 jobs so that I can go to graduate school and get my PhD.
That's pretty damn supportive. He's far from perfect and has an issue with putting his needs first all the time. But he's supporting me financially and emotionally which is pretty huge. Sometimes I need to be reminded of that.

15 comments:

mrs.spit said...

that's a pretty big epiphany. . .

mrs.spit said...

that's a pretty big epiphany. . .

Girlpostdoc said...

I sometimes think that our parents' generation don't understand our choices. Theirs was quite clear as immigrants to NAmerica. Forget your dreams - follow the money because that's what will make you and your family comfortable. In our culture sacrifice is the ultimate show of love. Such bullshit. Epiphanies are hard to come by. Hang on to this one.

unlikelygrad said...

I can honestly say that if Mr.SM and I did not get married when we did, we would not be together today.

I think that's true of most marriages--it's certainly true of mine. Making the commitment is a huge step, one that enables the marriage to last. (When I wrote about this on my own blog I got people screeching about this statement. Most of them were not married. Like they would know better than I would after 19 yrs of marriage!)

The bean-mom said...

That's a pretty good epiphany, SM. As Girlpostdoc said, hang onto this one.

chall said...

yeah, that's a big one.

I think that the marriage thing keeps you going, as it shows that "you did put some thought into it". I don't think one should disregard the whole ceremony and wows thing either.

(that said, one might understand why _some of us_ were more shattered than others when the marriage didn't last.... )

I think there is soemthing about this "sacrifice" thought that is deeply disturbing. Maybe partly because I have always been raised as "the man does what he has to do*" and the woman makes accomodations. A bit like the hobbies that some have, clearly you have time for hobbies since you don't wash up, clean, grocery shop etc.?

disclaimer: i have not had my morning coffee yet and may be a bit too cynical and bitter.

*work "not because I always want to honey but I am a man"

ScientistMother said...

Mrs.Spit - it is, and one that makes me feel bad for badgering him all the time....

GirlPostDoc - Yep, in our culture sacrifice is the ultimate show of love, but only if you're a woman. A true woman sacrifices her own happiness for her husband, children etc. I didn't even bother talking about the hinting of how I should be working parttime....

unlikelygrad - Why would people get mad at you for saying that? I personally know that for me marriage is forever. It would take abuse or infidelity to make me walk away. I don't have that committment when I'm just dating. Welcome to the blog!

Bean-Mom - I will, as it will help me get over being mad when he's not around.

Chall - you have me confused? I have no times for hobbies because I do all the cleaning and grocery shopping or are you referring to yourself??

Anonymous said...

This may sound a little crude, but be glad you chose wisely and got yourself someone hardworking and ambitious, because life could be so much worse if you were legally bound to a bum doubling as the father of your child. There are a lot of women who wish they were in your shoes, but are stuck with a lazy bum who fathered their child(ren).

Amelie said...

Thanks for sharing.
Our situation is a little different as we're both grad students, but we've both had times when we kept going because the partner needed it. You're right, it's important to remember this.

chall said...

SM> sorry, I should've been clearer. It was an early morning mind and I was a tad bit annoyed on the "sacrifice" thing since I have issues with it.

(As many other things, obviously, but I don't like the implication that true love means you want to sacrfice and that there is some part of "holy sacrifice for the other person whom you love so greatly, since you sacfrifice for them". Although, with reality comes compromise and hopefully that is evenly distributed? I just don't like the sacrifice for the other one in order to keep happy marriage.)

What I did mean, "having times for hobbies since you don't do the grocery shopping, cleaning up, food preparing etc" was that traditionally 'you' would be the one who doesn't do the main thing at the house, and that would "free up time for hobbies".

And I didn't mean you at all. I miss a word that I use in my native language that is a non personal "you/one" so maybe that explains things?

Kay Jay said...

This is a really interesting post. I agree that unless couples make a commitment to each other (whether that is marriage or not) it is only too easy to drift apart.

ScientistMother said...

Anon2 - I think you're saying I should be happy that Mr.SM is ambitious, which is not a black and white issue. There is a HUGE spectrum between ambitious workaholic and lazy bum. One can a hardworker that supports their partner, but has a 9-5 job their happy with that. There is nothing wrong with that.

Amelie - Yes its important to remember that you carry each other through the hard times and that each of you give in different ways.

chall - I thought that was what you were saying, but I wasn't quite sure. Commenting without coffee can do that, as can reading comments without coffee:))

unlikelygrad said...

SM: I went back and looked at the blog post in question, and the comments weren't what I remembered.

In retrospect, I think what I was remembering was a thread on the GradCafe forum a year or so ago when we were discussing LTRs. Most of the people there are, of course, considerably younger than I. I wanted to slap them upside the head and say, "Look you idiots--I've probably been married longer than the rest of you combined. So shut up and listen to me."

I think they're probably just young and stupid, so I pay them no notice. :-)

Re: sacrifice being a woman's thing in our culture: I agree. My husband has pretty much sacrificed his career so he can be the house-dad while I go back to grad school. People think he's absolutely mad. But when I sacrificed my budding career to be a mom? That was perfectly fine. *rolls eyes*

microbiologist xx said...

In my opinion, I think it is better to pair two driven people together. My husband and I are both very driven and we have both made compromises so that both of us could achieve the success that we wanted. Sure, this did delay things a bit, but it also made our relationship stronger b/c we are equals. One person is not always sacrificing for the other. I also think it has made us very supportive of each other because we are that much more invested in the other person's success. I've sacrificed things for him, and it makes me very happy to see those sacrifices pay off, even if it's indirectly.
Of course, that doesn't mean it's not a bitch to get through the insanely busy times like where you are at now.

Amanda@Lady Scientist said...

That's a big epiphany. (As Mrs. Spit said) It also made me think of me and Dr. Man. We've both made some sacrifices in our careers so we can be together. If we weren't married, I don't know if we would have done that.

I don't know if sacrifice is the right word, though. I think it's more like a compromise because we've both given up things to help the other be successful. It's just not always at the same time.