Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Trouble with the Reacher and Settler Proposition

What is the reacher and settler proposition, you ask? We will start our blog entry with a brief 22-second clip from the show "How I Met Your Mother." Because my first blog entry was well-received, I went ahead and added Chinese subtitles to the clip, as I anticipate soon gaining a global audience. That's not at all true. Now to the clip!

The premise of that particular episode is that in every relationship, there is a "reacher" and a "settler."

A "reacher" reaches out of their socioeconomic class, level of popularity or attractiveness, etc. to pursue someone who for all practical purposes is out of their league.
A "settler" settles for someone who might be perceived as "below" them in any of the areas previously listed.

While this premise is funny, and often true, there is a danger in the Reacher/Settler proposition, as seen by Marshall's reaction in How I Met Your Mother.  No one wants to be the Reacher.  Being the Reacher means that your better half is legitimately your BETTER half.

Since I was a psychology major and I'm currently working in communications, please allow me to refresh my psychology knowledge and enlighten you.  Equity theory, in relationships, says that
"People are happiest in relationships where the give and take are about equal. If one person is getting too little from the relationship, then not only are they going to be unhappy with this—the person getting the lion’s share will also be feeling rather guilty about this imbalance. This is reinforced by strong social norms about fairness."  Fairly common sense information about the danger of the Reacher/Settler proposition.

So how do we remedy this situation?  According to my mom, "Of course there are perfect relationships where there is no reacher and no settler."  No wonder my dad has nicknamed her Pollyanna.  Sorry Mom...I don't think you're quite right on this one though.  Let's cut to a discussion Nate and I had in the car a few days ago, about Reacher/Settler.  After discussing the basic concept, I drop the bomb.

"So Nate...Are you the reacher or settler in our relationship?"

Nate proceeded to think deeply for a few seconds.  He looked at me kind of funny and said, "I think I'm the reacher."

Now, dear blog readers, if you haven't had a chance to meet sweet Nate, this might be only mildly surprising to you.  However, if you have ever talked to him or maybe attended our wedding where part of my dad's toast was "what can I say about Nate...that he hasn't already said about himself...", you would know that Nate has excellent self-esteem and would never be "down" on himself.

As I thought, I cautiously told him, "I think you are the reacher...on paper...But...I really feel like the reacher when it comes to the important and deep issues.  I have never felt like I 'settled' for you."

So there you have it, folks.  Not even a year of marriage under our belts, and we are figuring out life's big questions together.  In all seriousness, I think the most successful relationships are ones where both parties feel like the Reacher.  Not in a sad, please-don't-leave-me-I'm-a-pathetic-reacher type way, but in a way where both parties feel truly blessed to be united as a couple and can't shake the honeymoon phase "aren't I so lucky?!" feeling.

An anecdote based on an Indian proverb was published in Reader's Digest about a prince who paid a huge dowry of eight cows for a so-so bride.  She was actually offered at a lower price, but he demanded to give her father the higher price of eight cows for her.  When her father visited a year later, she was a completely different person, with a new radiance and zest for life.  Why?  Because she was an eight-cow wife.  Her husband acted as the "reacher" even though many saw him as the "settler."

So, to recap, we covered a bit of pop culture, psychology, and Indian proverbs.  That's what you get from a blogger with a liberal arts education!

Stayed tuned for my next blog entry:  Great Expectations!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Coming out of the closet...

As many of you know, I am Ali Morrison.  I married Nate Morrison on July 17, 2010 and we are currently nearing the completion of year one of living happily ever after.

The idea for the Proverbs 31 Rockstar blog came to me about three weeks ago, when I came out of the closet to my a non-ironer.  I think she was as supportive as a mother can know...when their oldest daughter lays it all out there.  She didn't utter offensive phrases like, "we didn't raise you like this!" or "where did I go wrong?"...She didn't even cite the long line of ironing woman in both sides of my family.  My mom was amazing and supportive as always.
Don't get me wrong, I own an iron.  Heck, it even made the trek from my parents house to Nate and I's home after I received it as a wedding shower gift from my good friend, Pam.  Why did she get me an iron?  Anyone else might say, "well, Pam is a little bit crazy and a lot bit neat and tidy," but I know the truth:  it was on my wedding registry - I had asked for it.  That's right people, I asked for that iron!  I planned to wield that scalding chunk of metal on a handle like Thor wields his hammer...A sign of my epic level of wife-and-woman-ness.  My sad iron is now sitting in the top of a closet in my house...still in the box...

Let me go back a few years, to my high school days, when ironing was just a distant vision.  My mom and I were listening to her favorite radio station, WCIC, during a car ride when I heard the always perky Lysa TerKeurst's voice on the radio for Proverbs 31 Ministries.

"Mom?"  I asked.  "Why is it called Proverbs 31 ministries?  Like...what is Proverbs 31 about?"

My mother explained to me that Proverbs 31 is about being a Godly woman and wife.  Some time later, I read Proverbs 31.  It was a good read, but it didn't rock my world or anything.  When I got my driver's license, which led to tune into good ol' family friendly WCIC more often, Lysa TerKeurst and her never-motley crew would discuss being a Proverbs 31 woman, wife, and mother on a nearly daily basis.

Now, this next part is fairly inexplicable and a bit embarrassing, but I hear that it's fairly common for women.  I thought, upon marrying Nate, that I would want to clean things and cook for him and produce his babies in mass quantities.  It isn't the first time that I have been bamboozled in such a way.  I remember on the morning of my 4th birthday, the first one where I really "got it," running to the mirror and being shocked at my appearance.  Why was I not taller?  Why didn't I look older?

So, upon marrying Nate, I began to "fake it."  I kept a pretty clean house.  I made really awful dinners on a budget on a regular basis (the worst was probably the chicken tortilla pie recipe that I made with ground beef).  I encouraged Nate to stick it out at his job, because even though he was miserable, it was a man's job to provide.  This period of "faking it" was definitely the worst part of our first year of marriage - for both of us.

Finally, I had no other option but to revisit Proverbs 31 and regroup.  And what I found blew me away.  Even though I had read it in the past, my "mental note" of it made me think that it would read, "Do whatever your husband wants.  After all he is your husband.  So stop whining about him leaving his dirty clothes out, and go make him a sandwich. And put some make-up on before you do that...You look homeless."  I braced myself for that, but what I found was pure beauty and empowerment.

Proverbs 31 tells about an ideal wife, but it's not what a lot of people assume!  I urge you, if you haven't, read Proverbs 31.  It's all about being strong and graceful...providing for your family in the best way that you can.  It is full of inspiration, but not full of rules on how to make a family work.  If someday I want to work and Nate wants to stay home with our kids, that's okay...Proverbs 31 will allow it.

So moving forward, I have created this blog.  Because even if Lysa TerKeurst and clan want nothing to do with me...I am a Proverbs 31 Rockstar...In process.