Dan Griffin married up, and if you’re lucky, you will too.
Last month, Mark D. White made some good points about how a professional woman may view, judge, and even castigate a man who does not share the same professional status, particularly when she makes more money than he does. Though it seemed over-simplified and written with some degree of hurt and anger, it raised an interesting point, and it got me to thinking, especially about an ex-girlfriend. The reality is that there are women who objectify men just as there are men who objectify women. However, two weeks later I found some additional information to add to the conversation. And some men (and maybe even women) won’t like it. I wouldn’t have liked it five years ago, but I have surrendered to some universal truths since then, making me a much happier man.
I was with some of my male friends and one of them—Rob—who has been married for over 25 years said that he walked into a friend’s house one day and saw a little saying hanging on a wall: “Most men marry up.” We all cracked up. Those of us who were married for some period of time (I have been married eight years now) also knew there was an element of truth to it. But what exactly did it mean—particularly in the context of the previous article?
Many men would immediately interpret that little bromide as negative and disparaging of men. Oh…our fragile little egos. God forbid there be any reference that might somehow imply that men are not better than women or always their equal. Of course, this quote, if you pay attention, is not about superiority at all. Others might immediately assume it to be a socioeconomic reference—as in lower-class boy makes good by marrying socialite—a common theme in a lot of books and movies. But that was not what Rob meant.
We had been talking about all of the crappy things we have done in our lives and how we are different men today. We were looking at what it has taken for us to be the men we are today. We were reflecting on the important relationships that we have almost lost. We were also reflecting on the relationships that have helped us to be the men we are today—to rise above the emotional shortcomings from which so many of us suffer. Every one of us who was happily married (whether it was delusional on our part or not) knew that our wives often fit into both of those categories, and they played a critical role in our transformations from boys to men.
The most important ingredient in all of this is love—with a big ol’ capital “L.” There are so many comments and behaviors that would have such a different meaning if they were not done in the spirit of love. If my wife, Nancy, and I had not trudged through some of the incredible difficulties we were experiencing—most of them honestly brought upon our family by me—I would probably look back and see her in a much different light and be using much more colorful language to talk about her.
When love is the active ingredient in so many of the difficult problems couples face, and we work through them, it changes the way we see and our ability to confront those problems. It changes what we allow to be said and to be done. There is an alchemy that takes place and we may not even see it as gold until much later.
Yes, Nancy has pushed me to deal with some serious issues I was not willing or able to look at before I met her. Yes, Nancy pushed me to live up to my potential and work harder for the things I said I wanted and wanted to accomplish. This included looking at my financial contributions because they were reflective of my fear of risking, my fear of trying, and even my fear of succeeding. Yes, Nancy pushed me to grow up in ways that I resisted and resented at first because we were stuck in the classic mother-son tug-of-war, but as we have been able to transform that energy, it is clear that her desire for me to grow up was warranted and has served me greatly (just as my desire for to her to lighten up and laugh, have served her greatly.) How did Nancy push me? By setting some pretty clear and definite boundaries with me and some bottom lines that I needed because I never got them when I was younger.
Nancy is not perfect but had I not “married up” and married a woman who was at the same place of emotional development as I was, my life would look a lot different. I cannot speak for any other man though I know many men can identify with what I am talking about. Yes, I clearly married up and I am so incredibly thankful that I did. But when I use that phrase, imagine a woman putting her hand out and helping me out of a hole that I did not even know I was living in. The greatest thing about it all is that I am now right up there with Nancy—now, I am “up” too—and the two of us together as a team and a family are awesome, constantly loving each other into our greatness. So, my final thoughts: get over it, guys. If you have the humility to let a great woman into your life, she will bring you into your greatness because that is one of the great ways that women serve the world. Yeah, I married up and If you are lucky, you will too.