I’m know I’m going to be a complete hypocrite here, but I’m a little tweaked by the constant suggestion that every man who marries someone pretty or smart is somehow “marrying up.” I make the joke all the time, and in fact, it has been something of a mantra among the Williams brothers that we all “married someone who could stand us” etc., but I think if you take that thinking too far, it ends up being problematic and dishonest.
Tessa has taught me to be a better person, and there are at least 743 ways I’ve learned to better deal with life due to her gentle suggestions and leading by example. And yes, I was a pimpled dork in junior high, didn’t kiss a girl at my prep school, remain furious at my childhood assailants, and know Morse Code to 35 wpm – but would it be too pompous to think that she got a catch too?
Everything else, as I’m sure you suspect, is about physical attractiveness. I may have not been classically handsome, but I’m bloody well cute enough, and it never got in my way. I remember a housemate once told me a girl was “out of my league,” and I did two things right away: 1) I told him that no friend of mine, including HIM, was out of ANYBODY’S league, and 2) I dated the girl all summer.
Anybody who reads this blog, not to make this a reflection on me, but you are all in everybody’s league. None of you has “married up,” all of you are brilliant in your idiopathic way, and judging by some of the comments, you possess an introspection and spirit that would qualify you as a coup for anybody.
The idea that there should be some kind of agreed-upon equality in the physical attractiveness of a married couple is the kind of bottom-feeding horseshit reserved for reality television. Transitively, the idea that a bad man needs a good woman to turn him around is a remarkably lazy notion, one that plays upon tired gender roles, allows men to take no responsibility for their own spiritual education, and worse, is boring.
It also sells your wife or girlfriend short, as they obviously saw something in you that was pure and wonderful and didn’t sign up to be a halfway house for your recovering soul.
I think a lot of men, when they look deep into themselves, don’t see much. We see shame, we see secret stashes of porn, we see that time when we did something awful to that girl, we sense brutality and the desire to beat the shit out of some random guy in a parking lot. Sometimes we see these things and it makes us feel like a fraud, because it’s not something we ever share with our girlfriends and wives.
The secret is this: they already know, and decided to love us anyway. And this layer of crap inside men, I’ve come to believe, is largely window dressing. None of us are as really bad as we think we are, and while it’s relaxing to think we were saved by the love of a sentimental lady, it might be a little more empowering to believe that we, too, rock the fucking free world.