Here’s what woke me up in the middle of the night a few days ago. Call it a dream, or a maybe a vision. Heck, some men out there might go so far as to think it’s a message from above for all women.
Here’s how the tale unfolded: Dressed in way too much tulle, I was standing at the altar, beaming at my husband-to-be. Though the rest of the details were a bit fuzzy, the wrinkles, sagging, and cellulite which have encroached on my body over the past 13 years were all magically erased. As I stood there radiating with every promise of the perfect life to come, I naively repeated the traditional wedding vows. The strange thing was that this time, my wedding vows were a little different than I remembered from the first go-round. There was a line inserted which went something like this: “And I promise to love, cherish, and eat only Hershey’s original chocolate bars for as long as we both shall live.”
Seemed odd. Promising to devote myself to only one type of chocolate? A bit restrictive perhaps?
It quickly dawned on me that with such vows, the only chocolate I’d be eating for the rest of my married life would be rectangular bars stamped with “Hershey’s.” This strange vow dictated that no Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Snickers, or even a Hershey’s Kiss would pass my lips for the rest of my married days if I was to remain faithful to my husband. And it went without saying that I’d have to abstain from my quest for the perfect square of dark chocolate. No other brand or type of chocolate forever and ever, Amen.
That brief foray into an imaginary world was a bit disturbing to me. I like chocolate. I like different kinds of chocolate. I experience a physiological response when I see chocolate. My mouth waters when I smell warm chocolate chip cookies. My eyes lustfully graze over the offerings of chocolate at the check-out, particularly at the better grocery stores which source a diverse selection of quality bars. I even look forward to savoring a square of dark chocolate every morning. No offense to Hershey’s, but the thought that I would be restricted to only a mediocre chocolate bar for the rest of my life seemed like quite a sacrifice.
Maybe I have a problem. Then again, maybe at some level, it’s human nature to feel like that.
And now, I’ll take this opportunity to suggest that perhaps women’s connection to chocolate can provide a glimpse of what it’s like on the other side of the bed. Albeit a weak analogy, I think there’s a little bit in here for all of us women.
Essentially, what your husband said when he stood at that altar was that he was going to eat only Hershey’s Bars for the rest of his life. Perhaps you consider yourself more like a sassy Snickers bar or a sophisticated hand-painted artisan chocolate. Either way, you get the point. Eating only one type of candy for the rest of one’s life would get kind of monotonous. Especially when he really likes chocolate and there’s a lot of chocolate out there. Now whether or not he’d even have the chance to taste all that chocolate out there is another blog post altogether. But back to the chocolate analogy– in some cases, adding to the depressing situation would be a strict frequency limitation: begrudging tastes only once or twice a month.
I’m no expert on men, but I imagine it’s not always easy for them to remain faithful. It’s no secret that just like it’s more common for women to have eating disorders/body image distortion/weight gain, many men struggle with sexual issues at varying levels. Even if he doesn’t act on his desires, lust is there nagging in his mind. Just look at the wealthy and powerful. Those men can write their own ticket in this department. And look at what a mess they make. Men who have remained faithful are akin to a woman who hasn’t gained an extra 15 pounds over her last 10 years of wedded bliss (eating too much chocolate, no doubt). Therefore, I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to say that a woman’s food issues could be akin to a man’s sex drive. From a survival of the species angle, this makes sense. In most species, males procreate, sometimes with multiple females, while females are responsible for care and feeding of the young. Sex for men. Food for women. Maybe we’re just not as evolved as we think we are.
Momentum, monogamy, and creativity are tough to keep up. I’ve failed miserably at all of these at different points in my marriage. There are days that I don’t feel creative. There are nights that I watch the elapsing clock in the wee small hours of the morning, wondering if we’ve got what it takes to keep going. (Of course, starting those mornings with a good piece of dark chocolate does make it all seem a little easier.)
Finally, here’s a tricky one to put out there.
We have to put out a little more. We’re all they’ve got.
You’re his Hershey’s bar. And just like I eat chocolate on a pretty regular basis, he’d probably be glad for a bit more action. An occasional reluctant nod in his direction is not enough.
I know—he doesn’t deserve it. You’re annoyed that he made a snarky comment when you asked him to put his dirty socks in the basket, totally messed up your last anniversary and apologized only after you pitched a fit, worked late all week and then went to poker night, didn’t help put the kids to bed or bring the trash cans in. And then when he did unload the dishwasher that one time, he expected his reward should be you on your knees thanking him. There’s never a lack of legitimate reasons to say no. And there are lots of blogs about men behaving badly and needing denial discipline. Sometimes it’s the only behavior modification tool we have. And it goes without saying that a woman should never put herself in a compromising situation where she’s disrespected, abused, or used. But I’m not talking about dysfunctional, unhealthy relationships or about exhausted women who work full-time with three children under the age of four.
For the rest of us in stable, healthy relationships, I’m merely putting it out there that instead of examining sex as a pawn, a means of manipulation, or a punishment, realize we’re all in this together.
Maybe I’ve taken this whole analogy a bit too far, but it comes down to this: Men love sex. Women love chocolate (or food in general). Both are arguably biological drives. I’m not suggesting that we all need to have sex on a trampoline (that actually came up in the conversation at about 11:30 p.m. one girls’ night with a few too many French Martinis). And as it goes with chocolate, we don’t always need to be having peak culinary experiences. (Though I’d never be one to rule out edible body chocolate if the opportunity arose).
My point is merely that we may all have a bit more in common than we realize. Monotony and denial are our enemies.
Finally, if you made a terrible mistake and made your faithful promises to chocolate dipped sweet and sour gummy worms, Butterfingers, or those waxy white chocolate bunnies you can pick up for a dollar around Easter, my musings are null and void. I’m so sorry. It’ll take more than some high quality chocolate every day to solve your problems.
And to my single sisters—let this be a lesson to choose your candy wisely. Consider an upfront, solid version with few artificial colors or flavors. Look for honest packaging with clear labels so you know what you’re getting. Most importantly, make sure your candy is sourced in a way that aligns with your values and moral code and that it can adapt to a multitude of combinations, while remaining classic and steadfast for a lifetime.