When you are a twenty-year-old WASPy young woman in the 1970s, you don’t know much. Even after three years of college – one of which took place in Paris – you are still very naïve.
When you haven’t had a serious boyfriend, and you meet a handsome and charming man, you are vulnerable. But you don’t know it.
When he makes you gourmet dinners and pours expensive wines into the stemmed glass in your hand, you are swept off your feet.
When this intelligent and personable man says he loves you, you believe it. You want to believe it. Why wouldn’t you? You think you know enough about life.
But there’s a lot you don’t know – yourself, for one thing. Are you a liberal or a conservative? What are your dreams? What makes you sing or dance? How will you support yourself? What do you value?
You don’t even know to ask yourself these questions. It’s always been assumed that you will marry and have children. And no one has asked you what career you might choose should you decide to pursue one.
So when the subject of marriage comes up with this attractive, articulate, and interesting man, you believe this is the right course to take. Even though you may have some reluctance lurking in the back of your mind, you think you know this will be all right. That there will be a happily-ever-after.
You graduate from college and get married. You find a job – any job – because your husband is going to graduate school. You forget to ask: what about me? You don’t notice that you are being responsible for finding a job, securing an apartment, getting electricity and water turned on, doing the housework and laundry, buying the groceries and preparing the meals, paying the bills, and being quiet when he’s studying.
You might be asked to get contact lenses because your husband doesn’t like you so much in glasses. He might also suggest you wear eye make-up. You comply because…because you don’t know you don’t have to.
You will cry at night, sometimes, because you hate your boring administrative job. You will have fantasies about another man because yours hasn’t been around much. It doesn’t occur to you to discuss your disappointments with your husband, because he is doing something important.
You will be surprised when he suggests going out for a drink one night, because normally he’s at the library during the evenings. You dress up a little and feel happy that the two of you are doing something special.
You will feel nauseated and dizzy when, sitting at barstools under the neon Budweiser sign, you hear him say he wants a divorce.
About the Author: Amy Whitehouse is a visual artist who also likes to write. Having raised four children, she now enjoys the grandmother role. Amy lives in the Phoenix desert but daily wants to run away to the Florida beaches where she grew up. She exposes her art and writing here.