Saturday, June 8, 2013

Pretense: a recipe for marital hell

There are many ways to set one's self up for a bad marriage. Pretending to be someone you're not is a prime example. This is an excerpt from Salt in the Sugar Bowl, and it shows how building a relationship based on pretense is a recipe for marital hell.

Sophia's mother, Devora, encouraged her only child to outdo herself-- to put on the best face she could possibly envision. She coaxed Sophia to spend entire paychecks on form-fitting dresses. And every Friday she handed Sophia a fistful of dollars from the petty cash to get her hair fixed. Devora passed off her kitchen skills as Sophia's. Devora’s steady doses of advice fell on deaf ears because Sophia never got the knack of any of it. She was clueless about the glitz. She was plain as paper. But Devora was determined to make all Sophia’s dates worthy of prom night.
Hunter Sawyer was blind-sided by the glamorized Sophia among the drab selection of women in their small town of Haden. In less than six months they were married at the Hope and Savior Baptist Church with a feast for seventy-five in the church dining room. Both Sophia and Devora were pleased at the good-looking, hard-working Hunter. But 19 year-old Sophia had not contemplated the consequences of their deception. She couldn’t match colors, or bake a chicken unassisted, or apply false eyelashes on her own.
In no time, Hunter was puzzling over why the meals all carried a strangling dose of vinegar when a short time ago he’d found pleasure in every forkful. Then when Sophia gave birth to their first child, and she had no paycheck coming in, Hunter looked sideways at how her hair always seemed to settle into something akin to a rooster’s comb. Then, shortly before the birth of her second grandchild, Sophia’s mother died from a massive, after dinner heart attack. Without Devora’s coaching, the baby weight clung to Sophia’s stomach and thighs. There were no form-fitting dresses to accentuate her new, maternal shape.

Hunter’s disappointment was palpable. No more long, sucking kisses. No unexpected grabbing and fondling in the kitchen. Sophia had no tricks up her sleeve, and no money for mirages. So Hunter had ultimately won himself a lesser prize than he’d expected. He had won the small prize on the middle shelf when he'd expected the large one at the top. Disappointment was a heavy weight to carry throughout a marriage of 17 years.

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