Meeting Michael: What Really Matters in Marriage

What did a 23-year-old Megan Rosker do when she met a bald 40-year-old at La Guardia airport? Well, eventually, she married him.

I met my husband on the Internet six years ago. We spoke for two months on the phone and over email before we ever met. At the time I lived in Gallup, New Mexico. He lived in New York City. I had only one picture of him before we met. He had only a head shot of me.

During those eight weeks we got to know each other extremely well. I would never have thought that possible without having physical contact. In all our conversations and emails we learned the other’s rhythms, pleasures and difficulties. It was intimate. People usually think that intimacy has to do with sex and a physical connection, but this didn’t. This had to do with being together in an entirely other way. Little did I know we were building a foundation for our life together.

During our time apart Michael would send me pictures of his morning commute through Times Square on his bicycle. In turn, I sent pictures of red mesas that watched slow-moving trains pass through a dusty town. He sent music he liked on CDs in the mail. Upon receiving them I lay down on my back in the middle of the living room and listened to every track, every word, trying to sneak into his subconscious and understand why this song was important enough to send to me.

After two months he bought me a plane ticket to New York and away I went. I left my son, then only fifteen months old, with his dad on the edge of the desert and went east to dig deeper into this new intimacy. The physical connection loomed ahead. What if there just wasn’t any? What if I simply wasn’t attracted to this man?

When I walked off the plane and through La Gaurdia airport, I remember listening to the click of my heels. Then I saw him. To my twenty-three year old self, forty-three looked a lot older than I had expected. He was shorter than I understood 5’11’’ to be. He had on a black baseball hat that covered a completely shaved head. He wasn’t buff at all. He was trim and healthy, but didn’t look strong in a classic superhero sort of way. Did it matter? Quickly my brain tried to survey my emotions to see if it did.

I was young. I was a single mother who worked full-time. I was almost three thousand miles from home. I surveyed my options and I decided to forget the body and go for his heart. I had just spent two months forging the ground work for what I believed was the most profound relationship I had ever been in.

I looked at his face, his body again and said to myself, “I can work with this.”

His body was going to get old and ugly someday anyway. In fact to my youthful eye it already was. I had never dated someone whose head was shaved because he had gone bald or whose chest hair was going gray. My whole dating life I had always been attracted to men that worked out. I dated a lot of runners and swimmers, a basketball player once, one football player, but whatever their sport of choice, they were fit, muscular people. Michael was different, and it took time for me to accept this other kind of man. I wasn’t as physically attracted to him as I had been to these other men. I, like many women, always had an image of myself lying in bed and rubbing my hand over the youthful, muscular chest of a toned man. In fact I had done it a few times and thought is quite nice, but ultimately was this going to be satisfying? What would happen when age stole those pectorals away?

If our physical attractiveness was a distant second to the emotional connection we have with our partner, wouldn’t we feel a lot more at ease with ourselves when we could no longer bike as far as we used to or couldn’t bench press as much as could when we young? It would suddenly be enough just to be healthy and happy with the one who inspired us to live.

Unfortunately the superhero manly look we often expect from men and revere in media is one that isn’t based in the confidence of the unique life and ability of the individual. Rather, it is based on the physical capabilities of the body. When men look for their emotional confidence to follow their physical confidence, they end up never fully developing their emotional lives. Working out and having a good body becomes an expression for their confidence and their worth, when really there may be a greater purpose they will never discover.

If I hadn’t met Michael online and he hadn’t lived so far away, I never would have discovered this truth. How different the world would be if we all had to correspond with our future partners through email before ever meeting. If this had been the case, would you be with the person you are with now? How much did the physical play into falling in love? I know I wouldn’t have given our relationship the chance I did if we had simply gone to dinner or met in a bar. Instead the honesty of who we were never gave way to the deception of our gym workouts.

—Photo ittered/Flickr

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About Megan Rosker

Megan Rosker is the mom of three young children, a former teacher and ed and play advocate. She writes about how to change education and the culture of childhood in America. Her advocacy has been featured in the New York Times and she is the recent recipient of the Daily Points of Light Award.

Comments

  1. Tom Matlack says:

    Megan thank you a million times over for this. From a male perspective this releases us from the expectation that we have to aspire to something superficial when, really, many men I know really would prefer to focus on the interior self, the part that really matters in the end.

  2. Aleke Msumba says:

    Great piece. I actually communicated with my wife via the phone and a few letters for months before we decided to meet. I was already smitten with her before I laid eyes on her. When we did finally meet in person the image I had of her did not exactly match her physicality in person. But she was still smokin hot. Anyway – almost 16 years later – we are both not exactly prime physical specimens – but in my mind’s eye she will always be the same person I first finally laid eyse on and the disembodied voice on phone that I found so alluring.

  3. Jeanette Ruiz says:

    Megan,

    Thanks for bringing up a good point. Many of my male friends are approaching their thirties. Some are beginning to gain weight, lose their hair and physical strength. They are freaking out about it. I keep explaining that in the end most women just look for a good heart. But the cover of GQ tells them otherwise. At the same time, I wonder if most men see past the physical to glance at a woman’s heart rather than the chest that houses it. One former boyfriend always called me a goddess. I told him my looks wouldn’t last forever. He said it was okay so long I don’t get fat after popping out his babies. I told him never to go bald or get erectile dysfunction. Then we just laughed, naked in bed, at the absurdity of the whole conversation. We can’t love someone for solely the external. That is kin to admiring the design and aesthetics of a bottle of wine but never uncorking it to savor what is on the inside, which has aged to perfection.

    • Valter Viglietti says:

      @Jeanette Ruiz: “most women just look for a good heart”

      Mhh. I would say “many women”, I wouldn’t say “most” (and this is based on many experiences, both first- and third person).
      After all, if most women were that way, why so many men would be scared about their look? :roll:

  4. Thanks so much for this. I met my husband twice in person before we got together but we really got to know each other through phone calls and letters over the distance. He wasn’t my “type” but he had all the important qualities that have kept us together and happy for 26 years. The physical can blind us to what’s really important.

  5. a wonderful article megan, it was so sweet and endearing. a beautiful read

  6. Interesting article; I’m in a similar situation. Although we never lived in two separate cities. I’m a 43-yr-old male and my partner is 27. We corresponded via Facebook messaging for about 2 weeks before we met, and it made a huge difference, like we already knew each other before we saw each other.

    I’m thin but very fit, not at all the size of a pro athlete, and I don’t lift weights. I do cardio every day, and crunches and pushups.

    She always told me what a great guy I was to talk to and what a great personality I had. I worried about what she would think about me physically until she started telling me what an amazing body I had. This startled me, because I had just ended a marriage with my ex who didn’t say anything like that to me for 13 years. I do feel like it is my obligation to work out a lot and keep myself in great shape for her because of our age difference. But it’s also great knowing she sees beyond the physical.

  7. Valter Viglietti says:

    Thank you Megan, your story is wonderful and heart-warming. :)

    I had a similar experience: I met Patricia on a dating site, we began writing A LOT of e-mails (4 MB of text in the first year! ;) ), and we physically met over one month later. But we were already in love with each other, with the personality, intelligence, humour, depth, tenderness, sexiness (can you be sexy by e-mail? You bet you can!).

    We didn’t like much each other look; if we would have met first in the real world, we’d likely have ignored each other.
    That’s the deceitfulness of meeting in real life: usually people go with the look and attraction, and we don’t get to know the real person underneath. From this perspective, online dating has a real advantage: you have to write yourself down, you can’t hide behind tricks or clothes or your look; you get to know how the other person is, not what s/he looks like.

    Funnily enough, despite our look didn’t excite our senses, we liked being physical and we both had the best sex we ever had. This disprove another myth: when you find someone attractive, you will not necessarily be happy in bed – and vice versa. The eyes and the body sometimes disagree.

    Regarding the age, I had been with women ten years younger or older than me: in all cases, age didn’t matter much (or at all), it was “the inside” that made me happy (or not).

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