2U Do You Want to Get Married?
August 20, 2007
Next November, my wife and I will celebrate 42 years of marriage. We were really babies when we married. We both came from rather dysfunctional families; though to be fair to our poor parents, they did pass on some useful values and skills. Even so, it is a miracle that our marriage lasted this long. Even now, we are capable of screwing it up and we have to work every day at keeping the old heap (our marriage) running.
When we married, we knew that each of us was not a religious believer. (I think it’s a bad idea for people of different faiths or lacks of faith to marry.)
My wife’s mother wanted us to be married in a church. I suggested to my wife getting married in a Unitarian Church as the least church-like type of church I knew. Her mother didn’t know enough about Unitarians to get upset.
The minister was a charming, jovial, grandfather-like gentleman; the wedding was rather PC and aside from scaring me to death (as is the case, I suspect with most bridegrooms), did not agitate my irreligious prejudices very much. The moms were satisfied.
As a poor young couple, we cobbled together enough money to get from Los Angeles to Carmel, for a honeymoon, where without meaning to do anything more than mess around as a legal couple, we conceived a baby.
If we had not had our “accident,” we probably never would have chosen to have a child.
People whose marriage is not going well sometimes have a child in the hope of saving the marriage. Having a baby to save a marriage usually probably ruins the marriage and messes up the baby. It’s usually not a good reason at all to have a child.
In our case, the accidental baby saved me from going to Vietnam by deferment, where I would quite likely been killed as the worst soldier the history of the United States military. It also may have saved our stumbling marriage. Neither of us likes children very much; neither of us is very patient with children. But confronted with a child, we said to ourselves: We better take this responsibility seriously. We better figure out how to operate this “raise a child” kit that landed on our doorstep. It gave us something to take our minds off reasons to end our marriage that might have occurred to us.
At the time, we thought we were figuring it out pretty well. Looking back on it, it was evident at a very early age that our little girl was very bright. I don’t know where she stands in IQ numbers, but her IQ must be twice that of each of her parents. I never knew that genetics worked that way, but somehow our IQs must have added together when they produced our child.
I think she was so bright that at an early age she figured out: My parents don’t like children very much and they are not very patient people. If I am not a very good child, my chances of surviving to the age of 18 are not very good. So I suspect she gets much of the credit for turning out as well as she has.
By the time she was in kindergarten she also figured out: If I am polite to adults and do my work, they will let me do what I want most of the time, so why bother wasting everybody’s time with rebelling?
It was a bit of a shock to us when our daughter told us from a safe distance (she was studying in London at the time), “I am engaged to be married.” The shock was that she was engaged to her college roommate, who was another young lady.
It took us a while to get used to the idea. About a week.
As a young couple, they lived with us for a while. They took their relationship very seriously. They went through some sort of pre-marital counseling and checklists, and discussed whether they were compatible or not and what the ground rules of their relationship would be.
After they felt they were ready, they had a wedding ceremony. One of their schoolmates was in divinity school studying to be an Episcopalian minister. At the time, my daughter was managing a small medical research lab for a doctor; he and his wife offered their house and yard in the West Hills of Portland for the ceremony.
This month marked 15 years that my daughter and her partner have been out of law “married.” My wife and I have a marriage license, but I don’t know that we are “really married.” Or to put it another way, we consider our daughter and her partner just as much “really married” as we are.
I don’t know if they are “lesbians.” I think they are two women who fell in love with each other.
A woman who works with my daughter’s partner told her about a community on our island where “a lot of lesbians live.” The implication (meant in a friendly fashion) was that my daughter and her partner might like to live there so they would be with “their own kind.”
OP said to us (not the well-meaning friend), “I don’t want to live with a bunch of “lesbians.” We live in a nice house in a neighborhood of people of various ages and ethnic groups and other that suits us fine. We like the variety.”
“Gay marriage,” is a contentious and divisive issue in our society. At worldmagblog, the discussion area of World (an evangelical Christian magazine) I regularly find flame wars about “gay marriage.” I am sure it will astonish everyone here to know that I frequently post sarcastic messages there.
Until recently, I never had a conversation with my daughter and her partner about whether or not they wanted the right to be “legally” married. Although I know homosexual couples who have gone to Canada or to Massachusetts to “get married,” RD and OP have never done so or indicated an interest in doing so.
My daughter, a very practical person, has legally adopted her partner’s child and has legally changed her last name to her partner’s name. Secretly, I felt a slight pang about the name change, though I never told my daughter. As when she announced her engagement, it took me about a week to get over it. (As a general rule for my readers, if you post a message that perturbs me; allow a week for me to get over it. That’s my standard “get over it” time period.)
They have taken other legal steps to protect their relationship and their child as much as they can. [Dad], although involved with his child’s life, has legally given up his rights as a father.
Last weekend, I asked them about whether they were going to form a union under our state’s new law. They discussed it a bit in a lackadaisical manner. My daughter said, “After we spent so much money and time protecting our relationship already, we were not very excited about this new option which pretty much does the same thing we did already.”
That’s my girl! I thought about my realistic, practical daughter.