Thirty-two years ago today I got married. In retrospect, I wasn’t a particularly great candidate for a good marriage. I liked being alone, liked making my own decisions and wasn’t terribly motivated to be a wife. However, the planets aligned.
The groom, who was no more likely than I to achieve happily ever after, grew into a better friend with each year. We gave each other space, we tried to fight fair when we had our many fights, and we tried to forgive each other when we forgot to fight fair.
Along came three beautiful children who turned to us for love and stability and who provided us with incentive to work harder at our relationship. The next thing we knew they were leaving home and this whole marriage thing had worked out considerably better than it could have and in fact much better than it usually does. Lo and behold, a couple who had started out as kids in tattered jeans had achieved the ideal of the family values crowd. So, does that mean that we have family values?
Good question. I am happy and healthy and I like my particular life. I also like red wine and raisins. Do I think everyone should have to like red wine and raisins? Even if both are good for you? Don’t be ridiculous.
Just because I am a woman attracted sexually to men, this is no reason to decide that other women need to be like me. Just because I decided to create a monogamous relationship with one other human, why would I think that this means that everyone should? I wanted to raise children. That’s nice. It doesn’t mean that you should. My choices are mine and they worked out well for me. Your choices should be yours and if they lead to your happiness and better yet they also lead to the happiness of others, then that’s great too.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t wish anyone well for being hurtful to themselves or others. I just think that living your life differently than mine is not, by definition, the wrong way to live it. Has anyone ever been made less, or their own personal joy diminished, by acknowledging that there are a lot of fine ways to go through life? There is a Buddhist saying that there are many paths to the top of the mountain, and that the view from the top is the same no matter which one you choose. Clear message: take your own path.
Do I have family values? You bet I do. Tolerance. Patience. Empathy. Respect for others. All others. I don’t always live up to my ideals, I never have. But I keep trying.
Care for some red wine? I’d love to pour you a glass. Just as happy, of course, to share some lemonade with you. Happy also to make you a vodka martini, even if I don’t care for one myself. Don’t worry, I’ll leave out the raisins. Unless of course you insist that I don’t.