When she learned I’d fallen in love with a woman 17 years older, my mother worried that somehow she’d ruined me. She worried that there was something oedipal in my love for Sheri.
I would be lying to say I didn’t worry about that myself. The worrying has been minimal and rare – the pebble in a shoe, the string of celery caught between molars. But because my marriage to Sheri lies outside the norm of most men’s behavior, every now and then I wonder whether a psychologist might come across this blog and nod and say in a knowing way: “He’s clinical.”
I imagine if Dr. Freud (photo captured from the Freud Museum website) had never mused about Oedipus and “Little Hans,” the boy he studied to arrive at his Oedipus Complex theory, I wouldn’t ever think about this. On first glance, Freud’s oedipal ideas seem silly to me, and I’ve been glad to find that lots of people these days agree. But his ideas are also part of the popular culture, and, according to an article this month in Toronto's Globe & Mail, apparently even men who marry women of their own age worry that they are marrying their mothers.
For me, those concerns lie deep in the background until something pricks them. Once, when my parents visited, and I was working on something in the kitchen and needed help, I almost called Sheri “Mom.” That turned the blood to ice. When a man in Belize suggested that Sheri was my mother, I immediately corrected him. In her blog posting about the incident, Sheri makes me out to be the hero, but what I didn’t tell her right away is that his comment left me wondering if I was abnormal. Why wasn't I at the beach with a woman my age? Might that have to do with some subconscious confusion over mother and wife?
Doubtful, really. Before I met Sheri, I’d had at least one girlfriend who tried to mother me, who tried to treat me as a child. That woman was my age. We didn’t date long. Sheri doesn’t ever mother me, nor do I ask her to. To me, that’s all the clarity I need to tell Freud what he can do with his theory. I married Sheri because I wanted a wife, lover, helpmeet, best friend. I know my wife and my mother well. They are different women. One I love for all the reasons a son loves a mother; the other for all the reasons a husband loves a wife.