Recently, I went to a wedding. No, this blog is not about weddings, after all, what do I know about weddings? In the words of some wise woman, weddings are a whole nother story.
At this particular wedding, the bride and groom made the choice to write and read their own vows to one another. Within one of these vows was the phrase “You complete me.” Awwww. I know, sentimental, isn’t it? But while I was sitting at said wedding next to my co-blogger, and these words were muttered, she and I immediately glanced at each other, and probably without even having to make the slightest facial twitch, we both knew what each other was thinking. Really? And then we both, for maybe just a fleeting moment, felt something that was very much unlike the initial “Aw” I earlier suggested.
Perhaps we can once again blame Jerry Maguire for this one. Along with “You had me at ‘hello,’” and “Shoplifting the pootie,” “You complete me” is one of the phrases that has helped to immortalize this movie. But I cringe upon hearing it, because from the perspective of a single person, this phrase brings to mind many assumptions that I would like to explore.
But first, I’d like to bring up another example related to this blog topic. Last semester I was in a class on the Modern Novel. One of our reading assignments was Franz Kafka’s novel The Trial. After an entire class period of discussing this novel, the professor asked the class if anyone had a reason for living. (These are the kinds of profound, intellectual questions professors ask when you study literature in grad school). She asked this question for possibly many reasons. The novel is depressing, and one just might be inclined to commit suicide after reading it. Also, Kafka was considered by many to be a writer of characters with existential angst. We all have the freedom and responsibility to find or create our own meanings for our own lives. But enough about that. After she asked this, rather seriously, one student spoke up and said she had just gotten married, and then threw her hands into the air in a kind of post-touchdown victory dance fashion, as if she had just won. Again, I was sitting next to a girlfriend yet I resisted the urge to glance at her with that I-can’t-believe-she-just-said-that look that girlfriends can immediately recognize. Simply put, this woman’s reason for living is not only another person, but a man. Her spouse. A grown adult human being. And now that she has found him and married him, she is now complete and has a reason to continue living.
And now back to the wedding. And to nicely tie these together. What is it about married people that makes them think they have won something? That they have found something giving their lives meaning or worth? And what does that say about how they might view single people? When I hear “You complete me,” I want to cringe, hang my head in a mixture of disbelief and sarcastic shame, and also, I want to take that person and shake them and say “Nooooo! Whyyyyy??!”
Do married people (the ones who feel “complete” by having gotten married) think that single people are incomplete somehow? Do they think we are all just fragments of human beings, void of something meaningful in our lives? Are we just partial people walking around with some hollowness, some emptiness that we foolishly attempt to fill with booze and all the wrong men while they blissfully frolic through their lives feeling like full, completely complete individuals because they are married? Do they think we too should be looking for this elusive thing that they feel so proudly to have found? Do they pity us?
Also, do they realize how ridiculous they sound? Do they realize that by announcing to the world that they have found someone who completes them, that they are inadvertently also announcing that they were once incomplete? Are they admitting that they actually were incomplete, hollow, empty? And what exactly made them feel this way, this incompletion that only another human being could correct?
Of course, some people might not analyze something to the extent that I just have. Perhaps you might be thinking that telling someone “You complete me” is just a nice thing to say, a romantic thing to say, a compliment. If this is the person’s intention, I think something else may be more appropriate. What’s wrong with simply saying, “You complement me”? As in “We go well together.” You know, like peanut butter complements chocolate. Like a vanilla biscotti complements a cup of coffee. Like a nice glass of wine complements, well, anything really.
There is actually a lot I would allow someone else to complete for me. Complete my tax forms. Complete my sentences (if you dare). Hell, even complete this blog for me. But, please, don’t complete me. I am already whole and I am very certain of it.
Posted by: Missi
Posted by: Missi