the bright side

the other night i watched “the prize winner of defiance, ohio” with my sister. it was very artistically done, entertaining and funny even when dealing with some harsh subjects. the main character, wife and mother of twelve – count ’em, twelve! – had such a happy, sweet, accepting, optimistic outlook on life despite her circumstances.

this is based on a true story of a 50s/60s housewife who enters television contests not only for the challenge and fun of it, but in the end to provide for her family. i never realized how huge these contests were back then; one ad campaign after another trying to come up with some slogan or another, and they won all sorts of things like a washer and dryer, freezer, bicycle, galoshes, dancing shoes, a car, even a pony! her husband would drink away all their money; at times you wanted to love him and felt sorry for him, but then he would go off and do something foolish, irresponsible, heartless, and you hated him.

the woman was such an inspiration; she kept her spirits up, remained a loving individual, despite her situation. i was mentally taking notes! i felt so guilty, knowing she had it a million times worse than i do, yet somehow she was a pro at looking on the bright side. there was this one scene… she finally gets to go out one day, one of her daughters is going to drive her 100 miles for a get-together with a group of other contesting friends she had been corresponding with (this, after numerous other attempts, thwarted be her chaotic and demanding home life). they make it out of town, out-of-state, having a fun time along the way… when the car breaks down. the daughter is all upset, especially for her mother, because she has to put up with her “rotten” husband, taking care of the kids, and now this. the mother seems totally unruffled; she says it was meant to be, and now she has time to sit and have a conversation with her daughter – why not cherish the moment?

how many times have things gone wrong, not gone my way, and immediately i get bent out of shape? i should look on the bright side, but i don’t – i need to take it easy, cherish the moment, look for the good things in the seeming bad. that’s especially hard in my marriage. i do think some people have a natural bent, more of a tendency to be one way over another… but certainly you can train your mind to react to situations differently. =sigh= i’m never content with myself… and that in and of itself isn’t looking on the bright side.

on a slightly different note… i was cleaning for my boss’s wife on friday afternoon, and somehow we got to talking about how they met. she said that one of the biggest influences she saw in how well they got along was the simple fact of birth order. birth order? apparently, she was the first in a family of… three siblings?… so she was used to being the boss. her husband is last in a similar size family, and he’s more content with taking the orders, being more subservient. i thought it was interesting, how this type of dynamic could play out in our relationships, especially marriages.

how do you think your birth order affects your marriage, your relationships?

my boss’s wife pointed out that, more often than not, it’s the only children who seem to have the problems in their marriages because they’re used to having things their way, or are used to internalizing everything and don’t have that open communication. she asked about philip and me, and i really didn’t know how to answer. philip is second of two boys… so it’s not like he had to deal with being last in a long line of kids. i don’t think he’s spoiled, but i do think he questions authority and assumes things will go his way (sort of like a first-born or only child, i’m guessing). i’m one of a set of twins, last of five kids, but it’s sort of different from being the fifth one of five kids, you know? i do tend to internalize, but i think that’s from being teased a lot growing up, my tendency towards depression, etc. i really have no idea how this potentially affects our relationship, but it’s an interesting thing to think about. and it’s almost like you have no control over it, to a degree. i guess you just have to realize it’s one more thing neither of you can control; people have different experiences that shape them as individuals. how much do we accept “as is,” and how much can we expect them to change and be willing to compromise?