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Thursday, April 9, 2009

It Takes Guts

By Silvia Uribe

A conversation with my mother about my upcoming 27th wedding anniversary triggered a series of thoughts regarding what seems to be the most difficult thing in life - to choose the right life partner. The good news is that as much as this appears to be almost an impossible task, it is not. Anyone could potentially do it. The bad news is that it takes guts, and not everyone has them.

When I was a teenager, with the same problems and insecurities that we all have at that age, I feared that no one (from the opposite gender) would turn their head toward me. My friends then had the same fear. As I grew up, and became more of the person I was going to be, those fears vanished. But then something worse happened. I liked too many boys!

Allow me to explain. The Mexican society, of which I was part of, was way more conservative in those days than it is now. A boyfriend, then, was not someone you slept with. I don't even think it would be an exaggeration to say that dumping one boyfriend and acquiring a new one was a completely accepted practice - especially if this happened several times, AND with different people each time.

One of my problems has always been that I would get bored rather easily. Boyfriends were no exception. I was bored to death after a month or two, so I dumped them. My parents of course, were very concerned what the neighbors and family friends would think of me. But, this was the least of my concerns. So I did what I had to do.

Among those boyfriends, though, there were two or three people who were anything but boring. On the contrary! They were charming, intelligent, funny, creative, or any combination of these, and surprisingly, I fell madly in love with them. After a few months, however, I discovered that one of them was very jealous and too controlling, another one liked to party and drink in excess, and another one had a volatile temper and was somewhat prone to violence, as I witnessed on occasion.

In each case, I was very much in love. So what to do? After expressing my concerns to each individual, and not seeing any real change, I had only two options - dumping the guy and breaking the relationship, and breaking my heart too in the process, or staying in the relationship hoping for a change that almost for sure was never going to happen.

You guessed it, I knew I could not live with any of those traits, and each time I broke the relationship. It took vision, decision, strength, and yes, guts. But I did it. I did it as soon as I came to the conclusion that I didn't want to live in fear of violence. I wouldn't want to explain each one of my movements and not be trusted, or to be waiting for someone all night because he was partying, and then having to deal with a drunk who only God knew how he would behave. Each time I knew it was not for me! Each time I cried a lot, and then I recovered.

Some of my friends were going through the same experiences, and they had the same options. But they made the decision to stay involved with that person and wait for the change to happen. After they married them and had a miserable time, their excuse was that they never knew who these men really were. But here I tell you that they did. Even I knew it, and I warned them about it. But they couldn't hear it.

How is it possible that they say they didn't know? Of course they did! But they weren't able to accept reality. To be fair, I should say that these friends of mine were not stupid. They were very attractive. They came from functional families, and they were otherwise accomplished. My theory is that they probably were (consciously or unconsciously) fearful of not finding anyone better, or maybe anyone at all (as I was in my teenage years). They didn't have the guts to gamble the mediocre relationship for the prospect of a happy (please note that I didn't say perfect) life.

So, if you're single and you're considering spending your life with the one you love, think about it first and be realistic. Having a happy life is as possible as it is having a happy, long marriage. You must be willing to search for it and wait for the right person. Remember that it is not about perfection; it is just about what you can live with and what you can't.

Silvia Uribe is a freelance writer with a Latino perspective.

Cross-posted at

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