10: Are You Happy?

10: Are You Happy?

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Married Life!

Are You Happy?

If you want to be happy, be.

~Leo Tolstoy

I never meant to be married three times. My one and only marriage was going to be a delight of witty banter and happily ever after. I’d been studying for this since I picked up my first Georgette Heyer romance, so I knew exactly what to expect. After the second divorce, I went on a crying jag, threw out all of my romance novels and went to therapy.

I started understanding me.

I treasured those teenage years of curling up with a romance novel. That’s when I fell in love with the paper hero. He was strong, dark and handsome, carelessly bestowing a kiss or promising glance that filled the heroine’s dreams. A paper hero is told what to say, how to act, in fact, how to be the perfect man. But, he only exists on the pages of a book.

Let me translate those qualities into down-to-earth terms. He’s the sexy bad boy every woman wants. Bad boys like having lots of women. They love the attention. They are experts at giving out crumbs of attention — just enough to give us hope that he’ll be the one.

Bad boys are sexy, flirtatious and intelligent. The ones I loved were not bad men, but none of them was the right man for me.

Once I realized this, I got out of my own way and decided that I wanted more than a paper hero. Once I did that, I met Larry. We got married a year and a half later.

My ever-so-wise daughters said it best. “The first time was to make us. The second was to raise us. The third time is for you, Mom.”

My husband and I were scared to death, like most newlyweds! After all, I was a two-time loser. He’d never been married. Mixed in with the good wishes from family and friends, there were a few snide comments: “Are you crazy? You fall in and out of love like a teenager.” “Why would you give up your freedom?” And my personal favorite was “Look at your track record. Maybe you’re not marriage material.”

So, I did a new dance. I ignored them and started listening to my husband. He kept saying something that I’d never heard before.

Are you happy?

“What?” I asked, scared that I was completely screwing up. Again.

He smiled. “I’m happy if you’re happy.”

Later on, I thumbed through several romances to reference his comment. Aha! Just as I thought!

After much struggle and turmoil, the paper hero and heroine kiss passionately and ride off in his Ferrari or sail off on his yacht. But it ends there.

The ordinary everyday hero who wants his wife to be happy is ignored.

My husband, who also happens to be sexy, handsome and intelligent, is the real deal! None of those paper heroes ever cared about a woman’s happiness… just theirs.

Larry has had to nudge me a bit. I’m accustomed to making everyone else happy, not myself.

“Does your job make you unhappy? Find a new one,” he said, looking up from his computer with a frown as I tried to hide my tears.

I did. I quit my stressful job as a federal officer that involved a daily three-hour commute and became a nursery school teacher. It takes me eight minutes to get to work.

“You miss swimming? Find a pool and make the time to go.” He sighed while I collapsed after doing a pathetic number of sit-ups.

I started swimming at the local high school.

“Where are your pretty clothes? Pretty women need to wear pretty outfits. Go shopping.” He patted my back as I stared at the clutter of old clothes in my closet.

Well, he still has to drag me shopping, but at least I’m getting the hang of it again.

I try to make him happy. I’m not such a junk monkey and I’ll watch his shows. Star Trek has tons of generations and explores strange new worlds so it’s actually pretty entertaining!

I’ve never been married like this, but I’ve become the woman I’ve always wanted to be. I’ve kicked those negative comments to the curb and hung up a “Do Not Disturb My Happiness” sign.

A year later, when Larry asks “Are you happy,” I kiss him and answer “Yes.”

Thanks for asking, sweetie.


~Karla Brown

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