Sunday, August 28, 2005

Redemption: What's Your Price? (or there's a little Stepford in all of us)

Yesterday I was reading madman's Friday post (no longer available), and it is in a similar vein to what I have been thinking about recently, the idea of what you've done that you didn't expect you'd do when you were much younger.

(For the perfect song to accompany this post click here.)

I think we all have a price at which we can sell some aspect of ourselves. Remember that movie, Indecent Proposal, where the wealthy John Gage (Robert Redford) offered a million dollars to Mr. and Mrs. Murphy (Woody Harrelson and Demi Moore) for a night with the wife? (It's been on TV a lot lately.) That is an extreme example of selling yourself and the price you're paid not being nearly enough. But all of us at various times have 'sold' or traded our time or some other facet of ourselves in exchange for something. It might be the salary you're paid for the hours you devote to your employer. Maybe it's the love you get from your partner that insures your fidelity. It could be some material possession like a house or a car that 'buys' your commitment. Some people are cheaper than others. But you can look at most our relationships as being largely based on the exchange of goods, services, or more nebulous things.

When I was a teenager I thought that my price to get married would be an excessively large diamond. I was brainwashed by those commercials that told me that the size of the diamond was determined by how much the man loved the woman. But then I grew up and fell in love and all that diamond business meant nothing. My wedding set does have diamonds, but it's not something gaudy and expensive. And over the years I've noticed a trend that the larger the diamond the less successful the marriage. Go figure.

I am my husband's second wife. He was married to the wrong woman right out of high school and was divorced before I even graduated from high school. (We didn't live in the same state back then and hadn't met yet.) There was some 'baggage' from that marriage and another previous relationship that was put up on the bargaining table when we started talking about getting married. The 'price' for me marrying him was that we would live in a different house with all new stuff. I didn't want to start my married life surrounded by things he had shared with another woman. This was our beginning.

Then when I unexpectedly ended up pregnant with our third my price went up to a newer, bigger, and easier-to-live-in house. I essentially traded my independence and part of my personal potential to be a stay-at-home mom, so I wanted and needed a better place to do my job. I don't mean that to sound negative at all because in selling off much of my independence I gained more 'free' time to explore my creative side. The secret to successful trades is for each party to feel like they are getting a good deal. I guess you can call that relationship or personal free-enterprise.

And I'm definitely no Stepford wife. I'm not that good. I've always loved Amelia Earhart's quote, "I cannot guarantee to endure at all times the confinements of even an attractive cage." And I'm reminded of an article I read last year about the reinstatement of the strict, conservative Sharia' laws and how some Muslim women might find it comforting and secure in these uncertain times. I wish I had bookmarked or saved it somehow because I can't find it now. I'm not defending or condemning any of that. I'm just saying it's another example of trading independence and freedom for security.

Most recently I exchanged some of my 'right to complain' in my marriage for a red Corvette convertible. Does that sound cheap? I guess that's a matter of perspective. I'm not trying to devalue the gesture of David buying me my dream car. I know he wouldn't have done it if he didn't love me. But I think I was born lacking some part of the romantic gene because I also see it as a practical move on his part. How can I complain about some things now? That sort of idea. Not that I've sold off all my power and influence in my marriage. Oh, no, there's much more bargaining to come, I'm sure.

So I'm curious, and I wonder, what's your price? And how has it changed over the years? What bargains have you made in your life? What bargains do you foresee in your future?

And maybe it's all about redemption anyway. What does redemption mean?

REDEEM 1 a : to buy back : REPURCHASE b : to get or win back
2 : to free from what distresses or harms: as a : to free from captivity by payment of ransom b : to extricate from or help to overcome something detrimental c : to release from blame or debt : CLEAR d : to free from the consequences of sin
3 : to change for the better : REFORM
5 a : to free from a lien by payment of an amount secured thereby b (1) : to remove the obligation of by payment (2) : to exchange for something of value c : to make good : FULFILL
6 a : to atone for : EXPIATE b (1) : to offset the bad effect of (2) : to make worthwhile : RETRIEVE
synonym see RESCUE

But maybe redemption is only a hallucination? Or delusion? Or dream?

(to be continued... or probably not)

*This is an inferior version of the post that blogger lost yesterday when I clicked 'save as draft' so I could come back to finish it later. But now it seems that it has turned into something bigger than I can handle in one post.


mr_g said...

When I wrote on something similar you promised this post...glad to finally see it. I try no to think about my price, though it's been paid a few times in different ways. A lot going on right now, hard to focus a good reply, but wanted to say great post.

eatmisery said...

I'm worth every gray hair I put on my husband's head.

Rae Ann said...

mr g, thanks, and sorry it has taken so long. This was one of those things that kept cooking and cooking and never seemed to be ready. And now that it's done my head feels a little empty... until it gets filled up with another idea. Sorry you're going through a tough time. Hang in there!

eatmisery, yeah, my kids are worth every gray hair in my head! I don't know if my husband really feels like I'm worth the trouble. I guess so if he's still around.

DHammett said...

You're exactly right in your description of what is a good bargain. I'm a big follower of sports and the best trades are those that help both teams. These are the trades that keep trades happening. If one party gets a good deal and the other doesn't, well, once burnt, twice shy.

Same is true in real life. You got your bigger house, David and the kids got somebody to care for them full-time. You got your Corvette, David got some peace. (I gotta believe there was more to it than that - or, maybe I just spelled piece wrong). *Smirks knowingly* But, if one party were to keep giving (and I don't mean it that way!) while the other keeps taking, the relationship will break more trades.

As with others, my price changes, depending on the bargain being struck. Don't think there's one for fidelity, though. I certainly can't imagine what it would be, and I don't think I'll let Hollywood set my price.

Redemption: it's already been done and I have been. The cost was higher than I could ever repay. I'm truly, eternally grateful.

Rae Ann said...

dh, it probably does have more to do with 'piece' (instead of 'peace') than I'd like to admit. lol And it would take a whole hell of a lot more than a million dollars for me to spend the night with the dried up piece of roughly tanned leather that Redford has become. Seriously, though, it's not about money anyway.

And the Ultimate Redemption negates any Worldly ones when It comes.

madman said...

there was nothing infereior about this post. I have noticed when I bought my wife the house she wanted--her requests and complaints have almost stopped. I think she knows that she gave me ammunition along with that hugh monthly payment. The price of Peace (and many peices) was a 30 year note with 5.75% interest.

Loved it!

Rae Ann said...

madman, your wife sounds pretty cool. And much easier to deal with than me! I still manage to complain sometimes. I know, I'm bad. And you should refinance that sucker before the rates go up. Or have they already?