I hail from the Al Bundy era.
Something that I’m simultaneously proud and secretly ashamed of, I guess. Those were the days, folks, those were the days.
These days that show, to many, is a desperate reminder of all that was once wrong with the world. Or still is, in many ways. A shining example of misogyny, capitalism, the American way of life and love gone wrong.
I still think it’s fucking hilarious.
And spot on.
And still very very hilariously amazingly so wrong that it’s right.
You catch my drift, right?
Married with Children was awesome. Period.
But what’s always stayed with me the most, as it was both a huge part of my upbringing as well as a subconsciously ingrained into my mindset is the thought that lies at the very core of that show – and my understanding of life:
‘It is someone elses job to make me happy’.
Me being a ‘mere’ woman like Peg. A wife. Spouse. Trophy. Or eternal ball and chain. Call it what you will.
It was interesting, growing up. Because even when I was watching that show and clutching my sides from laughing too hard at Pegs shenanigans and Als hopeless mean attempts at sputtering back – I sorta knew that her expectations were so wrong. Unrealistic. Unfair.
But I was taught the same exact thing myself. From a mom that was a classic ‘victim’ of the world. Of men. Of life. From a mom that was, probably, a classic mix of damsel in distress, barbie doll and golddigger that is ideally attractive to always-the-same-wrong-men. A Peg, to the core.
And it is there that I was infused with these thoughts…these beliefs…these undeniable ideas of how relationships should be. How love worked. How a life together should look, and feel and be. Because in the world of Peg, and my mom and that time and this current age still, sort of – it is someone else’s responsibility to ensure my happiness.
They are in control of doing the things that give me joy. So they should do them. They are capable of providing happiness. So they should give it. They. Them. THEM.
Me being unhappy? Their fault.
Me not feeling great? Their problem.
Me not getting all I want from ‘us’? Their fix.
Me having needs that are unmet? Their responsibility.
It’s how I always treated my partners. How I always felt it WOULD be. How I was always taught it SHOULD go. No matter my own opinions of the matter, of course. That’s what your childhood is right. Fitting that certain drawn out mold, regardless of how well you fit it. You do things the way you’re supposed to do them because that’s how they’re done.
And I know you’re reading this KNOWING how wrong it is to feel that way, right? I mean, we’re a strong, progressive and independent bunch around here, are we not. Or, at the very least, we’re very familiar with all of the selfhelp books and power-Instas slinging quotes our way on how we’re the captains of our own ships.
I knew it was wrong too. Like. The way you can sometimes feel something’s wrong without knowing why it’s wrong or how you should be fixing it. Just wrong. Still did it. I still DO it, actually. Expect that. From them. Freakily.
Admittedly – I HAVE gotten better at it, over the years. Providing my own happiness. Fixing my own shit. Owning my own (and our) issues. But the damsel in distress mode is still programmed into my brain. I’m still wired to be the poolbunny waiting for her cocktails. I’m still Rapunzel waiting for her prince to make everything right. It’s still my go-to-move. And I somehow kinda still sorta maybe want to be…too…if that makes sense.
This ‘job’ of theirs is still my first expectancy and first disappointment in any new connection. That need for them to MAKE me happy. Sense my needs, tune in to them, value them, uphold them. Preferably without me telling them how to. It’s still how I’m built to love.
Even though I KNOW it’s not their job to make me happy. It’s mine. It’s MY JOB to BE happy, and do everything I, myself, can to make that happen.
And, if we’re lucky – it’s our PRIVILIGE to share that mutual happiness. Together. Not work at achieving it for the other. THAT’S how it SHOULD be.
But let’s be honest. That new mindset is a whole lot harder to achieve than it is to admit. And that old way of living is a whole lot harder to lose than to complain about. Because sometimes I wonder how much of these types of faulty wirings we can still fix at this point.
Maybe it’s easier to find someone exceptionally good at doing that job that shouldn’t be a job. Just kidding.
17 thoughts on “On happiness – in general, in particular and in total and utter honesty”
Good grief, that would be hard work! Lol. I’m programmed to avoid being in that situation haha. It’s hard enough work for me just to meet someone in the first place, never mind incurring that sort of ongoing demand.
But that’s interesting to know that that was the societal programming you had to face.
I was at my parents’ house a couple weeks ago, where they get something ridiculous like 700 channels on their TV, and we watched a few reruns of Married With Children, all of which I remembered from when they were new… haha… seriously, though, interesting perspective.
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I also always felt I needed a partner to make me happy. I was in long term relationships from age 17 to 37. I wasn’t complete without a partner. But I have been on my own for more than two years now and I’ve learned that I am not missing a half. I’ve taken charge of my own happiness and it is definitely doable.
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I live reading this sort of thing. That’s wonderful.
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a shoe salesman with bimbo wife and daughter? really?
Inhale Exhale Zoe Enough
Own Your Breath Whole
Love The Rest Why Not🌊
Whoever played Peg Bundy deserves an award for going into work everyday and dressing in such atrocious clothes!
The stuff that seeps into our brains when we’re too young to notice is almost impossible to delete, but it looks like you’ve got a good grip in an eraser 🙂
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Reblogged this on The Reluctant Poet.
I watched this show after long transatlantic flights (I used to be a flight attendant) because its sheer stupidity made it so fun to watch. 😀
What an incredible piece, insightful and inspiring! Thank you for sharing🥰
It all starts with knowing What actually makes YOU happy. And YES of course: frist and foremost you are expected to take of Your Happinez yourselves. You can’t depend on Someone else to make you happy: another person can only add to what you bring to the table yourself. You once Said you’re not a ‘giver’ but more of a balance-holder: give and take (and don’t be in debt). That principle Applies here abonnees all: take care of Your OWN happiness (and let someone else add to that (on top of what you already have established)),
Stupid 🚘 -correct
such a good point, mutual happiness is a privilege! Great post
I love this. And I agree that we should make ourselves happy first and foremost. But the other side of the coin is you should want to make your partner happy…
Would you sit on your laurels if your partner told you they had a problem? No? You would help fix it? So expecting them to help you be happy isn’t all that unrealistic.
Or maybe that’s my childhood wiring?
I don’t think I ever left it to other people to make me happy. Seriously, I found out early in life how people let you down, are not reliable, are more interested in their own things even when they say all the right words. I do believe, actions always meant more to me. Also, I am impatient for things to come to me. I go and get and love to serve. I am more of a leader and rarely the other way around. I never liked anyone doing for me what I can do myself. I don’t like being coddled. I like being loved. They are not the same thing. I enjoyed reading your post though, to hear from the other side. I have always been of the independent, bossy, direct type of nature. I won’t share the names my siblings had for me but if given a chance to know me I am sincere and very loving.