My husband, who was born in Queens, somehow has morphed into a country boy at heart. I’m not sure how this transformation took place, but now, the music of choice anytime we are in the car together is country music.
When we were on vacation earlier this month, satellite radio became our best friend as we were driving around mountains, and after hours in the car, the songs were recycled enough as to where I was catching on to the words. Soon enough, I was singing along. However, any enjoyment that might have brought me was short-lived; now that I was actually paying attention to the words, I felt this unidentifiable cloud coming over me, shadowing any happy feelings I had just had. What was this? I was in Tahoe, on vacation, with my husband… what was there not to be happy about?
Lots of these darling male singers were singing about these tan-legged ‘hotties’ and ‘honeys, with their white tank tops, ripped up jeans, and cherry lips. At first imperceptible, I slowly identified the feeling: that old-school, reminiscent wave of insecurity.
What was my husband thinking when he heard those songs? Was he wishing I was like that? Was he looking at my not-so-tan legs and shaking his head inside? I just felt like I couldn’t compete with these fantasy girls in the songs.
What goes around comes around, I guess. I remember, a few years back, when the trend in Christian circles was to point out how girls get somewhat tainted from watching chick-flicks and reading romance novels. These books and movies weren’t reality, and somehow, we kept wishing the men in our lives would act like the men in these movies, books – or even TV shows (Yes, even TV shows. Ted Moseby, anyone?)
The chick flicks are fantasy; they are not pictures of real life relationships, and indulging in too many of those sets us girls up for lots of unrealistic expectations. We want Mr. Darcy, and somehow the Mr. next us seems to fall short compared to the hologram in Pride and Prejudice.
We girls want to be able to watch our chick flicks and read our books, and we want our men to be like the caricatures we see. Our men should be charming and able to read our thoughts and talk for hours with us…(sigh!). And the male version of this is sort of how these songs suggest women should be: tan, sexy, perfect – perpetually looking like a 17-year-old. But we same girls get angry and point the finger when men have these unrealistic expectations of us.
It used to be that porn was the real relational evil (and certainly, it still is), stirring up something in men that can’t be satisfied in a real-life relationship with a real-life woman. Now although it’s more innocuous than porn, I feel like country music (and lots of genres of music – and most media, really; it’s not confined just to country music) has the same net result: a dissatisfaction with reality. In the same way a real-life relationship with a real-life girl will never live up to the projected images in porn, I wonder if these country music girls in the songs creates the same dissatisfaction.
Don’t all of these fantasies – whether it’s chick flicks, romance novels, country music or porn – cause us to be dissatisfied with what we have and put unrealistic expectations on the other gender?
So here’s my point: why can’t men and women both just accept the other without trying to force each other to live up to these fantasy images? As girls, why can’t we just accept that our men are men? They are not women, and they will never interact with us as a woman does. It’s unfair for us to expect that. While we should expect kindness and respect and love, men do not exist to cater to our every whim and make us the center of their universe.
I adore my husband, but for sure, he is not Mr. Darcy. (If Ray Barone, Doug from ‘King of Queens’ and Jerry Seinfeld were rolled into one person – and you added in some Christianity, you have a small taste of what my husband is like. Definitely not Mr. Darcy. Or Ted Moseby). But he is kind and caring and sensitive – in his own male way, not my female-imposed way.
(And, by the way – he read this post and he said all he was thinking about when he heard those songs was driving, enjoying the music and scenery, and the car in front of him. See? All guy!)
By the same token, men – can you accept that not every girl will look like a goddess or like she is a teenager forever? You can expect a woman to be attractive and take care of herself and do her best to look beautiful. I believe we owe our partners our best. But it is unfair for you to expect her to exist merely just to fulfill a fantasy image you have, one that is not based in reality.
The last time I looked, the only one we are ever to love with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength is God. I wonder, are we expecting that from our partners – that they love us that that way, existing to cater to our every whim and fancy?
The common denominator in both of these scenarios is that they are based in selfishness. We want the other to exist just to fulfill what we want. But true love is based on the good of the other, not on what we get from them. Both of these scenarios are focused on what we are getting – how our significant other is matching up to the image that we have conjured up of what will make us happiest; these images have zero to do with how we can give of ourselves to bring happiness to our partner.
If I could, I would ask guys and girls to make a pact – can’t we just both give up these unrealistic fantasies? Can’t we just agree to let the other gender be who they are and love them for it? Can we agree to stop trying to force the other into our image of what we want them to be and just let them ‘be’?
I don’t know how well that would go over. I think a lot of the entertainment business would go out of business, and many-a-country song and chick-flick movie script would no longer be written.
But it sure would make relationships a happier place.
[Photo Credit: Taryn Tenaglia]