The one thing I have discovered is that men who are married at best are at zero or even. You are never ahead even when you think you are. You do the big wedding for the bride. If you said, let’s not do this and let’s just go off and elope, that is fine as long as you have a real ceremony later on or a big reception. But you do it for the bride. If you do it for the man, then the male part of the bargain is not an alpha male. Not really.
In any case you’ll spend you married life trying to stay even (or zero). It’s one of the reason we have so many movies and TV series based on this fact of life. “Everybody Loves Raymond” was a great example. But back in the day so was The Honeymooners”.
Women need us (for a time) and they’ll do whatever it takes to get us to marry them. They are in love with the idea of marriage. Then once that is accomplished the job of the male is to provide for the family. It is old an imperative as the paring of males and females. You can spend most of your young life providing that security. This journey is marked by long hours at work, taking shit from incapable bosses, trying to get ahead, getting fired or laid off (they are the same by the way). As long as the money flows you might be near even. Then one day you retire. Your work is done. You have money in the bank. Your kids are out of school on their own.
But you are not at zero any more. You drop back because you no longer provide.
The black widow. She mates, she kills. Well maybe not literally. But whatever you were when the journey began, well, that is no longer you. Your worth to her has gone down. You are like a piece of furniture. Maybe an old dog whose time has come. Time to be put down.
It can be disconcerting. Not all men reach their senior years and no longer love their wives. Some of us still do. But maybe we’ve had out lives perverted by the journey we had to endure (willingly) to make sure that there was some sense of financial security.
But that wasn’t enough. Not really. If you lose yourself in the journey you will lose what is most important. Your sense of what you really are (if you are still capable of knowing or remembering).
That leads to a further journey if you are willing to undertake it. You may be in your golden years (whatever the hell that is) but the need to journey further is still there whether you think you need to or not.
It was the fictional and yet real words of a woman in Lord of the Rings that resonate.
Aragorn: You have some skill with a blade.
Eowyn: The women of this country learned long ago, those without swords can still die upon them. I fear neither death nor pain.
Aragorn: What do you fear, my lady?
Eowyn: A cage. To stay behind bars until use and old age accept them and all chance of valor has gone beyond recall or desire.
Aragorn: You are a daughter of kings, a shield maiden of Rohan. I do not think that will be your fate.
This is the final journey. It leads to death as all human journeys eventually do. But it is better to go out with a sense of what and who you are. Without fear. Loneliness takes many forms. If in the process of life you lose yourself then that is the loneliest of all.