I recently read Committed, Elizabeth Gilbert’s most recent book (yes, she also wrote Eat, Pray, Love, which I didn’t read and so will not discuss). I’m not going to go into the book right now either, except to say that I read it for the APW book club, and met yesterday with a group of women to discuss it. One of the topics we touched on was Ms. Gilbert’s statement that “the person whom you choose to marry is perhaps the single most vivid representation of your own personality. Your spouse becomes the most gleaming possible mirror through which your emotional individualism is reflected back to the world.” I don’t think she’s saying that we perceive our partners as being exactly like us. Rather, I think she means that we use our choice of partner as a way to identify or define ourselves. A simplistic example: Husband once spent three months bicycling around the U.S. alone. When I tell people about him, I tell them about this trip. But what I really want them to know is that I am the kind of girl who marries a guy with an independent, adventurous spirit. Because I am an independent and adventurous girl. I don’t think that this is necessarily a bad thing. Nobody can dispute that the choices a person makes say something about that person’s character. On the flip side, using your partner as a mirror (or better, as a lens through which you examine yourself), can limit your view of him or her as a separate and distinct person. It’s narcissistic. And it could lead you to be critical. Another simplistic example: Husband can be an angry driver. This bugs me to no end. I argue with him about it and say it’s because I don’t like negativity when we’re in the car together. But really, I just hate the idea that the person I chose has such a quick temper. [Note: the things we hate in those around us are often the same things that we hate about ourselves.] Basically, I zero in on my partner’s flaws because I don’t like what they say about me. Selfish. I’m working on this, by the way, by differentiating the decisions he makes that do affect me from the ones that don’t.
This entry was posted in Identity, Marriage and tagged a practical wedding, book club, identity, liz gilbert, marriage, narcissism. Bookmark the permalink.
so i may have just spent the last two hours reading over your blog instead of eating lunch or teaching my painting students…. they’ll survive.
you are BRILLIANT. I love your posts. especially this one. Its so true. Everything you write is just so ….raw. Is that too cliche of me to say? I love it. You are fantastic.
Also, dont bother reading eat pray love… i did and it made me want to vomit repeatedly. terrible terrible terrible.
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