Am I My Brother's Keeper?


It’s hard to address a subject like this one. Worldwide, there are people who have coupled with someone they are displeased with for one reason or another. Yes, we adore one another during the whirlwind romance. We rip each others clothes off whilst in the throes of passion. And then domestic life settles in. We eat more than we should. Laze around on weekends more than we should. We drink too much, eat too much rich (and yummy) food. But when you choose a partner, you choose them for who they are and who they aren’t. The scary thing is that you probably have only a tiny inkling of who they are. It's a foundational lesson to grasp that when you are in a relationship, this does not give you the right to decide how the other person should be. If you have chosen someone who doesn’t suit you, that is your own damn fault. So my first advice would be to take great care in making a lifelong commitment with someone!

But apart from this, I think we need to seriously consider what we see as “acceptable” and “desirable” in a person. We happen to live in a society that worships physical beauty and doesn’t value the real and true things about a person. We compare our mates to others. We compare ourselves to others! In fact, I think this is the real root of the problem. A person who is constantly critical of their mate is likely overly critical of themselves. And they are fucking pissed off that their mate is comfortable with their flaws! "How dare they! I walk in misery, constantly striving for unattainable perfection, and they just lie there sleeping well through the night? Why aren’t they up, trying to improve themselves?" It’s a sick world, I tell you.

The fact is that if you have a healthy love for self, you are on the right track. First, you must be a good mate in order to find a good mate. Then, you must be reasonable about the person you choose to spend time with. And why you choose them. If you like spending time with one another, sharing mutual respect and consideration, that’s the large part of it. Of course, there needs to be attraction... chemistry. But chemistry is unreliable. It can’t be depended on to last through the years because it involves too many variables. And things change. We change. We all do. This is not a bad thing. I once heard that a woman marries a man expecting him to change and a man marries a woman expecting her not to. And they are both doomed to disappointment. So, let's just try not being a dumbass about it. Mind your own body. It's the only one that belongs to you.

41 comments:

The Exception said...

Your dad is a smart man!
It does start with the self and then... it works out.

Teri - why do you think we are so focused upon the physical looks of someone? I mean, the physical is so temporary. We change quickly from year to year, or can. At the end, the physical is purely superficial and has very little value in comparison to the mind and heart of a person.

Glad to see you are still afloat! More rain coming though... hang on!

cathouse teri said...

Eek! (I'll email you the pics from last night's flood.)

dadshouse said...

Great post, Teri. I'm one of those active guys who really appreciates an active and slim woman. It would be hard for me if my partner put on a lot of pounds. I would want a partner who shares my enthusiasm for a healthy lifestyle.

I do understand that we all age and change. So, rather than focus on perfection and holding a woman to that, I hope to find a woman who ages gracefully.

cathouse teri said...

Dads: That is certainly important that you know what you like and you go for that. But what would you do if you found a woman that was in all other ways perfect, but was not slim? Or was in all other ways perfect, and was also slim, but wasn't "active," in the same way you interpret it?

cathouse teri said...

Also, how do you know if someone will age gracefully? And how important is that to you?

cathouse teri said...

And another thing... haha ~

Are you saying that people who "put on a lot of pounds" cannot also have enthusiasm for a healthy lifestyle?

dadshouse said...

If a woman's mother aged gracefully, chances are the woman will too. But even if that's not the case - you can look at lifestyle. Does she eat right? Workout? Is she happy?

My first serious girlfriend, post-divorce, did NOT have a figure I consider ideal. She was pear shaped - big ass, not much on top. But we really connected on a ton of fronts. And overtime, I found I loved her body. Different than my ideal, but still fun to play with :-) You know what I mean.

As for being active - that's kind of a must. A woman doesn't have to enjoy the same cycling/running/skiing/sailing activities as me. But it sure would be nice if she liked to hike. Nothing like holding hands under a canopy of redwoods.

Or sneaking behind a tree for some wild forest nooky.

dadshouse said...

btw - where did you get that photo. It's hawt.

cathouse teri said...

Dads:
Well my point is pretty much that you can't have rules like extra weight = unhealthy. Plenty of skinny people are unhealthy. Plenty of heavy people are healthy. So yeah, the lifestyle and mindset are the thing. And even with the person who is less than "ideal" (which is an idiotic concept, if you think about it) you find that when you love a person, you do love their body. As far as being active is concerned, I am active. But that's a relative term. I swim daily. I'm lively and ready to enjoy many types of activies but NOT cycling/running/skiing and definitely NOT hiking. But I have many other assets which are very, very valuable to a partner. But again, if you want hiking to be part of your life with a mate, then you for sure should not choose someone who hates it. I'm not even sure you should choose someone who hasn't decided yet if they hate it or love it. If it's important to you, you should not settle for less. Nothing worse than deciding she's the bomb, except for this one thing. That one thing will become HUGE over time. To both of you. Same thing with smoking, etc. I mean, if you can't stand a smoker, don't date one! It ain't rocket science! If you like anorexic women, don't date healthy women. If you like healthy women, don't date anorexic women! And another thing, if her mother ages gracefully, it certainly does make it more likely that she will. But she may just take after her father. ;)

btw ~ I think I got that picture from Master Sage's Sunday Slides. If you are not in the habit of visiting his page (especially on Sunday!) then you definitely should start!

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

Teri - wonderful, fabulous post. I can't agree with you more.

Dads - what if she has her FATHER'S genes? What if she gets rheumatoid or other arthritis in her 40s as so many of us do these days?

When my DH and I fell in love we hiked, we biked, we danced - we all loved those things. Still do. I have bouts of severe arthritis now. Can't do those things. It started when I was 45. Thank goodness my DH loves me in all ways - life has changed. It just can.

T said...

What a great post Teri! I posted something similar but different a while back asking if we could really choose who we fall in love with. Its interesting to think that we should choose someone that meets our "requirements" but what happens if they don't... but you connect on so many other levels?!?! Like Dad mentioned above.. he fell for someone who wasn't shaped as he'd hoped yet he loved her body anyway.

Hmmm... definitely makes you wonder...

cathouse teri said...

Jen: Indeed. What's a woman to think when a man focuses so much on her "desirability" and then she has to have a double mastectomy and loses all her hair due to chemo? Sure as hell she can't be hiking now, either!

Besides, aging gracefully has very, very little to do with appearance.

T: I know! What I don't get is that there are men who get asked this question and they know damn well that they have loved women who weren't their ideal. They know it makes no sense to apply those standards to a relationsnip. Yet, they insist on making the "what if" arguments as if they will be committing some great crime if they just say what my dad said. (Incidentally, my dad never says "what if." In fact, if you try to say that, he tells you stop shuffling the "if" deck.)

Yes, this all means that my sisters and I have had some CHORE finding men who can compare to our father!

Southern Sage said...

hehe
in my deal I'm the fat one!
so...........

well if the person (man or woman) is 140 pounds for years until marriage then in 8 months is 225 I'd think the mate would have every right to feel like they had been baited and switched!

I'd never say anything to my bride, she looks better to me now than ever, even after 2 kids and with "gravity boobs"
her words not mine.

cathouse teri said...

Sage: You so silly. :)
Definitely, this subject goes both ways, and covers many things... not just the weight issue. And it's an extensive subject, too.

But if I know someone who is 140 for years (as an adult) and then suddenly is a hundred pounds heavier, I'm thinking there is something VERY serious going on there. Also, are people under the impression that others need to be told they've gained weight? Like they haven't noticed?

cathouse teri said...

Exceptional One: I haven't responded to your question because I was thinking about it. I have no idea why people are so focused on the physical. I can only imagine it's a matter of immaturity.

anno said...

Your father is a very wise man. "Never mention someone's weight" goes right along with "never comment on what someone is eating " as the secret to my long & happy marriage.

cathouse teri said...

Anno: So very true. Nothing worse than having someone say, "Do you really think you NEED that?" :)

wanderling said...

this definitely goes both ways, I've never eated dated a heavy guy, but it's not something I've ever consciously thought about until reading your post Ms Teri. I asked my beau the other day how heavy I could get before he lost sexual interest in me, he told me I was currently perfect (not trying to be arrogant here, I don't think he's right), and that I could gain about 6 kilos, but anymore than that and he'd start to lose attraction. I laughed and said, "it's good to know just how fat I can get, where are the chocolate biscuits?" and we laughed, but inside I also though to myself, what about when/if I fall pregnant and put on more than 6 kilos...is he going to then go and get his freak on with someone else?

wanderling said...

...guys also consider a woman's weight in terms of the "can I lift and hold her up?" question...just saying.

cathouse teri said...

Wanderling: First of all, by asking him that question, you validated his right to lose attraction, based on weight gain. So that wasn't wise. Now you're kind of bound by it. Which is fine, if you feel you can comply. I feel that sort of question is in line with shuffling the "if" deck, which I find to be a useless activity.

Here, I will relate a funny "what if" that a friend of mine posed to her husband. She had cancer and asked him, "Honey, what if the only way to save me were to put my brain into someone else's body, but that someone was a man. Would you still love me?" He said, "Yes, but it would put a great STRAIN on our relationship!"

I don't answer questions that don't make any sense, and I certainly don't ask questions that I don't want the answer to!

But all of that aside, I'm sure your boyfriend has no idea how much weight you could comfortably gain in his estimation. I'm not sure how old he is, but his answer is no doubt based on his level of experience and his level of maturity. I mean, you could ask him if he would still be attracted to you if you lost both legs in an accident. Or if you lost both breasts to cancer and all your hair to chemo and your belly became distended due to complications related to the cancer. These are all questions he is nowhere near capable of answering. On the other hand, a man who even considers an answer other than, "You are perfect and will always be perfect to me," is being just plain stupid. ;)

By the way, if men went around choosing women based on whether or not they could pick them up, then many men would find themselves alone! Or they could continue to date cheerleaders all their lives.

Men and women have plans about their ideal partners. Then they grow up.

I will be writing a second part to this post elaborating a little more on this subject, so stay tuned!

Bella said...

I love this post Teri! It really, really makes you think!

So hard to settle though, isn't it?

cathouse teri said...

Yes, Bella. It does make you think. And that's really what it's all about, isn't it? Sometimes I don't think we really think about what we are saying. So even if the subject doesn't get settled one way or the other for everyone (or anyone) I just hope it makes people think. ;)

74WIXYgrad said...

I have had a lifelong battle of the bulge and have learned what people use as "code" to try to disguise their rude comments. Only time my wife mentions my weight is when she's concerned for my health.

And in the past thirty years, as a result of child bearing and genetics, my wife is not the petite size that she was when I met her. This makes no difference since I didn't marry her to be a trophy wife. We married because we wanted to spend the rest of our lives with each other, not with Barbie and Ken. We have had struggles, but it's never been with a weight issue.

And as a result of all this, the friends I make aren't those who are trying to hang on with all they got to their youthful good looks, but those who accept what comes by nature.

And for the record, I worry about my weight, but this for the benefit of health. If it was for vanity's sake, I would also be spending a fortune on Just For Men ;)

wanderling said...

Ms Teri, I don't think it makes any difference whether or not I've validated his potential lack of desire through having the conversation for ultimately, I'm bound by what he finds visually attractive, so words really have no significance in this area. I really think it is better to know where the boundaries are. We all have them.

wanderling said...

btw, your post was greatly insightful, as always, you start the most interesting conversations.

cathouse teri said...

WIXY: Yes, it is important for a person to be concerned about their health, as well as their appearance. But no one else should press that upon you.

Wanderling: I disagree with the idea that you are bound by what he finds physically attractive. Which is why this argument exists. Many agree with you. :)

Loving Annie said...

Very interesting topic. Yes, bottom line it is all about responsibily choosing one's mate, being conscious, being aware. Compatibility in thought, behavior, ethics and values is essential - both over the short and long term. And that applies to weight and health and exercise and aging too.

georgie said...

Okay i am sooo not a male...wait...checks myself nope not male....

i am no where near my married weight BUT my husband and I have sex like we are the young versions of ourselves actually the sex is better now than it was then...(I know not the complete question you asked but it seems everything comes back to physical attraction)

Ima ask him about this-because I swear he loves me more than he did yesterday-I am not a trophy i am a wife a lover a best friend a companion and a mother just because I am a few LBS more than when we met should have no impact just my humble opinion...and i know opinions are like....

VE said...

It's interesting this concept of mating forever. If you are religious it's all laid out for you that this is the right thing to do. If you are not, then who is to say that is the right thing? In the natural world, it's a mix of animals that do and animals that do not. It seems to work for both. I can see lots of reasons why it would be foolish to stick together. Changes in interests or philosophies is a big one. Physical is so superficial; it's just one of a myriad of lifelong things. I'm not going to place my own judgements here other than to say that I haven't seen "one size fits all" apply well to much of anything. If you subscribe to marriage then that's fine but the reality is that there are going to be divorces and sometimes it's the best thing given the circumstances. To say absolutely not is just not realistic.

villageidiot said...

"Also, how do you know if someone will age gracefully?"

I'll try: use the age-old adage and look at the mom. Its not 100%, but pretty close.

But I also agree that its more important how someone ages gracefully in mind and spirit than in body - at least for me. But then I used the above trick and am very satisfied there too....

cathouse teri said...

It does sound somewhat sensible to look at the way the women in a family age, in order to gauge how your sweetheart might do so. On the other hand, is this a serious consideration? Does a man date a woman until he meets her mother, and then it's a deal-breaker that her mother didn't age gracefully? I'll wager not.

villageidiot said...

You are correct - its more of 'confirming I made a good choice' thing vs. a dealbreaker thing. And like I said, the mind/spirit aging is more important anyway, since we guys get saggy as we age too, not just the girls!

But an effort to take care of one's self is appreciated also, and can be perceived as one way to show love to your chosen spouse/SO, vs. a (perceived) attitude of 'suck it, I don't care so you shouldn't care'. I think there is a difference, but it must be handled maturely by both parties to work.

Marriage is hard...

One Man’s Opinion said...

I try to love people for who they are and not what they look like. I have to say that I am not attracted to a stomach, but now that I have a stomach, who am I to judge? Seeing as i want to be loved for me, not what I look like, shouldn't I be willing to do the same?

Yeah, I should be, but i can't. Sue me! I can't do the budge thing. Now if I married you and you got the budge afterwards, then I;d like to think it wouldn't be as much of a big deal, because when I marry (I ain't never gonna marry), it will be for the love of that person.

cathouse teri said...

VI: Marriage is a fucking nightmare! ;)

One Man: I'm not sure I'm familiar with the "budge" thing, unless you are referring to compromise. I'm not much into that either. I call it the c-word.

At any rate, I think one of the most important things about a relationship is to know your own self and be honest about that. To your own self! So, yeah... if you can't accept certain things, then it only makes sense not to choose someone (or choose a situation) where you might find yourself having to accept those things.

So if you can't do the budge thing, then yeah... don't get married! ;)

M said...

amen, you sooooo get it (and so does your dad).

wanderling said...

of course the really great thing about having conversations with your partner(s) about what he/she/they can and cannot accept is that you know exactly what you need to do when you'd rather kiss them goodbye.

The Doozie said...

My weight? I'm in shape, round is a shape right?

yellojkt said...

My wife rejoined Weight Watchers which puts pressure on me to lose some weight as well. The key is to be supportive without being critical.

Brunhilda said...

"When you consider a person who is constantly critical of their mate, it is likely they are overly critical of themselves. And they are fucking pissed off that their mate is comfortable with their flaws! How dare they! I walk in misery, constantly striving for unattainable perfection, and you just lie there sleeping well through the night? Why aren’t you up, trying to improve yourself? Or at least be up thinking about your imperfections and how you SHOULD be improving yourself?"

Oh hell. That used to be me. So glad it is not anymore. Excellent, thought provoking post.

Linda said...

I love this post! ;)

On the subject, I have a very easy 'answer'.. just think to yourself:

"Who am I to deserve a perfect partner?"

Because 'we' all want a perfect spouse, yet none of us are perfect ourselves. Seems a bit unfair, doesn't it?

Greetings from the netherlands!

Sexy PTA Mom said...

What a great post! I am a mom who put on a good 30 pounds after being with my husband for 24 years and having 3 kids. I have recently begun exercising a lot, for my own health and sanity, and I am really enjoying it. Shockingly, my husband, who always used to say he would divorce me if I "got fat" is not quite sure how he feels about the weight loss. He is not a bit jealous; he just got used to liking me how I was. He said to me the other day, "You look great, but I'm used to having two handfuls of ass, and now I only have one." That made me laugh.