Thursday, February 14, 2008

Why I'm Glad I "Settled" for a Furnace Instead of Waiting for a Fireworks Show

Last week I heard an essay on NPR from a single 40-something woman about the possible benefits of "settling" for "Mr. Good Enough." It wasn't as cynical as it might sound. She stated that as she has talked more to her married friends, she has come to realize that marriage is much more like running a small non-profit business (the home) than it is a romantic movie (lets face it, I'm no Julia Roberts, Meg Ryan, J-Lo, Reese Witherspoon, or Drew Barrymore).

I AGREE!!!!

Throughout my single thirties, people would either say or imply "you shouldn't be so picky." I tried to explain to them that I didn't think I was all that picky about the man I married. He could be short or tall, thin or chunky, a doctor or a teacher. I just really didn't care much what he looked like or did for a living or any of that stuff. I was, I would continue, VERY picky about the kind of relationship I wanted in a marriage. I needed to have a relationship that included good communication, mutual respect, like-goals, ideas, and ideals. I desired a relationship with a man who promoted laughter and accepted tears.

I remember many conversations with other singles (especially men) where I postulated that "romance" as the movies portrayed it is not only overrated and unlikely, but it isn't really even truly love. I imagined that I would rather have a spouse who chose me instead of having some chemical reaction. What is romantic about chemicals? Most notably were the conversations with ... we'll call him Don Madris ... who was always very surprised and skeptical about my theories. "What about fireworks?" he would ask. "Fireworks are great but they don't last long and often you get burned," I would respond. I wanted something that would last even if it didn't flash.

In sharing my unproven theory, I would often say, "there are four kinds of connection that are important to me: 1-Spiritual, 2-Intellectual, 3-Emotional, and 4-Physical." It seemed to me that the first three on my list were actually harder to come by than the last. I surmised and hoped that if I could find the first three, the last would fall into place.

Two years ago today my theories began to be tested. While Phil and I (abruptly) began to discuss the possibilities of marriage, a friend sent me an email on valentines day, 2006. He had no idea that Phil and I were contemplating the big question (nobody did, we had gone our separate ways and had steered clear of each other for several weeks before the phone call from Phil that changed our lives). This friend told me of his penny test. "You throw a penny into the air and if you can't say 'YES, I want to marry this person!' before the penny hits the floor, you shouldn't do it." PANIC! What was I doing thinking about marrying Phil then? Fortunately, I called Phil and he convinced me to move forward with our discussions (sometimes we actually called them "negotiations" - how romantic is that?). Two weeks later we got engaged. Even during our engagement there were moments of fear and panic. I consider it one of the Lord's tender mercies that we didn't both have those moments at the same time.

Fast forward (although there is a lot to fast forward through) to today. It is Valentines Day. There is a bowl of candy and a plant for me and a teddy bear for Eden that miraculously appeared on our breakfast table. Eden has the flu (the fourth day of a really terrible bug which has required constant holding and comfort). Phil is off to get a haircut and then to teach even though he is starting to feel sick. I feel achey (is it from holding Eden or am I getting sick too?). Nothing to inspire the ooh and ahh of a firework show today. Instead, I have my constant, reliable furnace. He keeps me warm, he gets up with the baby, he deals with my emotions and tears, he laughs with me, he helps me laugh at myself, he talks through the mundane issues of household chores and finances, he helps me try to be a good YW president, he lets me help him sometimes ... the list goes on and on.

If you ask me, I was absolutely right Don Madris! There is something wonderfully romantic about a relationship that works because the two people involved have made a choice to make it so. I'm so glad Phil chose me (and I him) two years ago!

Fireworks: flashy, hot, exciting, sometimes volatile, sometimes burn, can't exist during a storm, colorful, get old - you need to see new ones to elicit the same "ooh and ahh".

Furnaces: constant, warm, reliable, come in different shapes and sizes, reliable even during a storm (if you have your generator), easy to take for granted but immediately missed if not there.

13 response(s):

Jodi said...

What a perfect post for Valentine's Day. I couldn't agree with you more. That is what "pure" love is all about.

Charlotte said...

The interesting thing (in my opinion) about this whole furnace/fireworks thing is that when you do get a furnace, you often find that it has hidden firework capabilities, and so at times you get the benefits of both. Not so much with fireworks.

Anyway, I say "amen" to everything you say here.


Well, except for the part about you being no Drew Barrymore . . .

Layne said...

Amen. John and I are furnaces, too. Having experienced both, I say furnaces are much better.

Alisha said...

I have never heard that analogy about relationships, but I definitely like it! Hope you all feel better soon!

Anonymous said...

You can always stoke the fire when you want it to burn more fiercely...

Kathy said...

Great ideas! I met my husband when I was very young, but I remember one of my first thoughts about him was, "That is someone who could love me back." While the fireworks can be fun, after 20+ years I'm definitely glad I "settled" for the furnace.

Loren said...

Okay Heidi-
You can't tell me that you couldn't flip a penny into the air and say that you didn't want to marry Phil!

You got everything you wanted: 1-Spiritual, 2-Intellectual, 3-Emotional, and 4-Physical.

I loved your thoughts- especially, "I needed to have a relationship that included good communication, mutual respect, like-goals, ideas, and ideals. I desired a relationship with a man who promoted laughter and accepted tears."

Phil is that kind of guy. BTW- Your little girl seems to have inherited the both of her parents' best qualities!

-Loren
(I still hold true to my penny philosophy- maybe the two of you just had to each give your "two cents" first)

Bamamoma said...

Loren, You totally confessed to being the friend. Think what you may, but there was no way that I could have responded during a coin toss. Perhaps it is just my personality, but even after 9 years of friendship when the time came to make a decision, it was something that required deliberation, inspiration, and a GIANT leap of faith. Even after (or especially after) the decision was made, we had to keep leaping.

Loren said...

I do confess that I was the penny person. I liked your analogy. I think it can be tougher when one is in their 30's to make this leap. I know a little about what it means to put everything on the line (recent experience). Couldn't you say that as you tossed the figurative penny that it was something you wanted to pursue?

Charlotte said...

So it was LOREN!!

And all this time, I was speculating that it was someone else.

(We'll call him Ethan Barr.)

Bamamoma said...

ahhh, Ethan Barr... a whole other story... We went to lunch that day but he couldn't stop talking about his own love life for me to even tell him anything was going on in mine.

Loren - tossing that figurative penny that day just about made me run away and end it all. I thought, this feels right, it makes sense, but I could not have come up with a yes or a no in the time it took a penny to drop. Possibly it is just my nature. I certainly know that every person's experience is unique and I hated when married people judged me for my singleness so I'll not make any huge generalizations. I'm just glad that I didn't wait for a penny test or for fireworks. I guess that is all. :)

Loren said...

Uh-oh... Charlotte is reading this... (I hope I get an A+)... :)

I had NOTHING to do with the fireworks/chemistry idea- this is the first time that I've heard it that way (fireworks vs. furnace). But the penny analogy is mine. It is just that we need to trust ourselves. We know how we feel and often get caught over-analyzing situations. A person can trust their gut feeling. We know when something is good. One can tell whether or not they feel they want to pursue something. We need to trust ourselves- the Lord trusts us with our agency- especially when we're doing our best to stay close to him. A simple, "Yes- I want to pursue this person," or, "No, I really don't want this," is good. This is not necessarily a test to help you figure out if you want to marry somebody- that takes time- but only to get at the "heart" of how you feel, without all of the analytical stuff (Elder Holland calls that "analysis paralysis"). Now if you're a Phil or an Eric pondering pursuing a relationship with a Heidi or a Charlotte- it's a no-brainer (that's my point). A fellow could never make a better choice. Just ask your husbands. We know when we can trust a person we're dating or whether we're wasting our time and could never really give our heart to them. Make better sense now? For me it really comes down to trust- spiritual and emotional.

Now I am just confused as to whether I am a 140,000 BTU furnace or a ten-cent sparkler...

Bamamoma said...

Loren, you are definitely a furnace! I'm sorry that I misunderstood you two years ago. I totally thought you meant that unless you could make a snap decision about marrying someone, you shouldn't pursue it. My bad. What you said, totally makes sense. I do think that singles - especially older ones - get stuck in analysis paralysis. It is kind of the flip side of those who get stuck in the romantic (Hollywood version) ideal. As Charlotte and I have often said, it all comes down to it just being a "freakin' miracle" when two people finally commit. When my miracle came about I had to keep remembering to "trust the miracle" (words from a blessing actually) because of my own analysis paralysis. So yes, you've got that right in my opinion.