For the first time, since Tony, I was so confused about how to move forward. The difference now is that I’m not in love with Scott so the overwhelming emotional component is missing – so why am I so conflicted when my heart isn’t involved?
I finally realized through my reading on intuition that it was because my gut was involved when I didn’t even know it. The battle I had been waging was between my gut and my head, rather than my heart and my head. That’s interesting.
While I’ve detailed so many of his good qualities, there are several that have concerned me from the beginning. I know before I wrote this how shallow some of them sound and all I can say is this: I was raised very differently from Scott, we did not start from the same place and life experiences shape us.
Scott was born into a poor family in the Midwest, the actual backwoods. His family kicked him out in 7th grade and he had to stop school and earn a living. He was married by the time he was 18 and she was pregnant. Knowing he needed to make a change and support his new family, he joined the service for 4 years. Some time after service, he realized he needed more than selling cars or working in warehouses so he went to school and obtained his Bachelors degree. Some time after that he began working for the government and subsequently earned two masters degrees, one being from Columbia. He was in a long and failing marriage that produced two daughters. One who he is very close to and one who doesn’t speak to him. Post his divorce he became involved with a married woman for 3 years. That relationship ended entirely about 6 months before we met. Like me, they were always on and off and he dated during the years of the affair. He owns a home and is stable financially. He has come a long, long way from an uneducated kid from the sticks.
I was raised with everything given to me and my education was expected as well as paid for by my parents. While I made missteps educationally, I fell into management and had pursued a career that was lucrative until 2018. You know I’m spoiled and have been around middle class money for my entire life. I never really struggled to put food on the table the way Scott did. My arguments with my x revolved around how much money I should spend on vacation. I am not frugal and always believed I would earn a pretty decent living. I bought my home post divorce and was going to be able to contribute significantly to my kids college educations. Once I left my role in 2018 and had surgery I never regained my financial or career footing. However, my expectation of my own income and financial situation never faltered, not until very recently. I admire ambition and career success that nets a large financial gain. Since my divorce, that has always been a significant attraction because my x was willing to allow me to bear the financial burden of the lifestyle we were living and I never wanted to feel that way again. Money and earning potential had become much more important to me post divorce because of my experiences during marriage. It actually became a dating qualification. I had grown used to some luxuries that I provided to myself and I didn’t want to give them up. I had fought too hard for status.
Scott works for the government and, as everyone knows, the government caps salaries no matter how good (or bad) you are at your role. Because of this, the government employees also are known to rest on their laurels and do the minimum required work once they pass a certain time in the job. The private sector would fire incompetent or lazy employees, while the public sector tolerates this for some reason and makes it very, very hard to fire someone. The stability associated with a government job as well as lack of incentive breeds a sort of laziness that’s commonly known. This is NOT Scott by any means, I am just trying to set the stage. Government employees also work very standard hours. You put in your 40 hours and not a minute more because there is no incentive to do so. This also creates a fabulous work life balance because the hours are dependable and stable. As long as the employee is willing to sacrifice earning potential, a government role isn’t a bad one to have and why most people never leave them despite their apathy towards their jobs.
Of course I am over generalizing as well as stereotyping. But, based on my experiences, this sort of apathy does exists and breeds a sense of arrogance in government employees. They know they can’t get fired, they know they only need to put in the minimum effort and once they reach the ceilings of their roles, they become big fish in small ponds and that creates a whole other sense of bravado. And this IS Scott. He’s at the top of his game and will likely be in this salary pool and role for quite some time until his boss leaves. He has no desire to go after more because he likes his 40 hours a week and is satisfied with his salary. He has come from nothing so where when is today is a great achievement and it’s ENOUGH for Scott.
But Madeline is wayyyyy more judgmental coming from corporate America and the private sector. Where the harder your work the better potential for financial gain. Where hours and work/life balance are irrelevant. Where you get bonuses, perks and promotions that you and everyone around you equate with success. Where you never assume you are safe or stable so you work harder in the hope it offers some protection when the layoffs come.
With those explanations, the divide between Scott and I becomes evident. He is a big fish in a small pond and definitely has an arrogance and bravado because of it. He also has a lot of time at work to chatter and gossip (I tell him he’s a wash woman and he admits to it). My experience as a leader has taught me not to gossip at work or even be perceived as a friend to all my employees. Scott says the government doesn’t have barriers like this – everyone is friendly with everyone because some people never change level but are age peers. Scott is satisfied with “enough”. The biggest criticism from my marriage and even my children is that it’s “never enough” for me. And that’s true.
I perceive it like this, if Scott is as good as he brags to be (another quality I do not like at all) then why doesn’t he leave and go make double or triple the money he claims he can make in the private sector? He says it’s because he doesn’t want to work any harder – he did it enough when he was young and he’s satisfied with what he’s accomplished. I thumb my nose at this since he’s only 46. I feel he’s too young to be so complacent.
But, that me. He’s happy. He’s satisfied with what he has and what he’s achieved. My fear is that my judgement, which has always existed (it’s not new, I’ve always felt this about people) is never going to go away and I may ultimately resent him the way I resented my x for never wanting “more”. I do feel he should be proud for what he’s achieved from where he started, but I don’t feel a man should be done at such a young age.
That’s the worst of my snobbiness out of the way. It covers almost all the qualities I dislike about Scott: lack of drive or ambition, arrogance/bravado (big fish in a small pond), gossip, braggart and the stereotype of a government job personality.
Unfortunately, there are other concerns.
I am not especially attracted to Scott. I thought he might grow on me but he isn’t. He’s not ugly by any stretch of the imagination and he’s very fit and pretty rock solid. He even has most of his hair! He is a bit short for my taste but still taller than me so I’m trying to let that one go. It’s just his overall appearance isn’t “doing it” for me. Combine this with ok sexual chemistry (not horrible but definitely not great) and I’m worried we have a toxic combination. I don’t find myself wanting to call him handsome or wanting to explore his body. Sex has improved but he has already told me I’m the best sex he’s ever had. He has been patient to learn what I like or don’t because sex in the beginning was close to bad. I’ve had some seriously amazing sexual partners – so should I be worried? My older friends tell me to forget about this. If sex is good enough I should be fine. We are getting older not younger. He never pressures me sexually but he really isn’t intuitive. He fumbles more than I would like for someone who claims to have had many partners. I hate being the leader because it leaves me with no desire. This one combined with the job situation worries me.
We come from different classes. Should this matter in this day and age? I didn’t think so exactly but I can see it pretty clearly with Scott. Being raised in a city or suburb of a city versus the middle of the country just creates a whole different person. Can you change that? Probably. He surprises me with some things like understanding some fashion brands but then there are other things that I just don’t get. Like shooting squirrels and throwing them in the grill. I’m unsure which divides can be crossed and which don’t matter. He’s also just lacking that “cool-factor” because of this. Again, not sure how much it matters except that sometimes he really does come across as a hick and I feel a little embarrassed. Luckily he has never done this in public, only in private.
Scott can also irritate me pretty quickly. He often starts stories in his head and then finishes them out loud, leaving me to decipher what he’s talking about and me getting frustrated with an unclear story. For someone as smart as he is, it’s all book smart. He definitely has trouble getting his thoughts out of his head in a cohesive manner.
His humour is a bit low brow for me. Reminds me of my x but I can manage this. He does come from the middle of the country.
So it’s sort of like 3 big negative buckets:
The job/ambition and the type of behavior a government job has created in him
I thought I was getting this out in 2 posts and clearly I can’t. So the rest has to wait for part 3!