Last night, as my husband and I worked through a misunderstanding that had caused some bent feelings between us, I mentioned (again) my discontent with the fact that he feels done with having kids because he has three from his first marriage, but I feel shortchanged because I only have one. He had no adequate response for that (how could he?), but he said, “I’m sorry it wasn’t you that I met when I was 19, fell in love, and had kids.”
I’ve had that kind of wistful thinking before. When you meet someone special, it’s probably universal to think, “Where have you been all my life?” and to wish you’d met him or her sooner. The question is, would you have been ready? If you’d met that person years ago, before the experiences of your lives—good and bad—molded you both into who you are now, would you have been as compatible?
On a shallow level, when I look at old pictures of my husband, from years before I met him, he didn’t look like my type. He was too thin, which was especially noticeable on his tall and otherwise very sturdy frame, and his face just didn’t have the quality it has now.
But assuming I’d met him way back then and had overlooked the (probably mutual) lack of attraction, would I have been interested in him? He was basically the same person, a man with exceedingly good values and a strong work ethic, and he was a dedicated family man. But some of his traits that I struggle with even now were worse, and some of the traits I admire now were not yet developed. And I’m sure he would have found the same to be true of me.
Maybe my immature self would have meshed with his immature self. But somehow I don’t think that’s what would have happened. We weren’t ready for each other. So even though I mourn a bit for the half-lifetime we missed being together, I am grateful that we eventually found each other at a time when we were both single and (almost) ideally matched.
It’s easy to wish for what could have been, but maybe it couldn’t have been, anyway.