My parents married because my father was drafted in World War II. They were dating, and, from all accounts, getting along wonderfully. But, my father was supporting his mother and his two younger brothers, and he took that responsiblity seriously. If he had not been drafted, he would have probably waited until his younger brothers were out of high school before asking my mother to marry him. They had one month of married life before my father left for more than two years of life in the army in Asia. My parents had been married for 46 years when my father passed. I was a change of life baby, and so only got to see my parents in the second half of that 46 year journey. From my perspective, they were a functioning team. Each one offering different skills and bringing different gifts to the partnership. When they were both still alive, I would often describe them as 2 halves that made one whole. After my father passed, that phrase came back to haunt me as we discovered my mother's Alzheimers. It's unclear how long she was ill. The team was fine as long as my father was alive.They had the archetypal 20th century upper middle class marriage. After marriage, my mother never worked outside the home. They divided tasks along the gender lines of their time. I don't think the idea of being with anyone else ever occurred to either of them. They dealt with every problem as a team. They celebrated every success as a team.Most importantly, they loved each other always. My father never failed to provide physical and verbal affection to my mother. She was his sweetheart, and he let everyone know it. My mother loved the attention, and returned the affection.
My parents met when they were very young and their country was in the middle of a war. They had nothing in common except their need. When I was 16, they finally divorced, though they had been in the process of leaving each other since before I was born. Their relationship was physically and mentally abusive and my overwhelming feeling when they finally divorced, was relief.I believed I would never marry, and as a young woman, I felt that love was a fairy tale--a made-up story you tell little girls who are too stupid to know any better. None of my interactions with various young men disabused me of that notion. When I was 23, I met my husband and we've been together since then. My biggest fear is that he will die first, because I would have to go on without him.
My mother ran the family and my dad brought home the bread. My mom, being trained as a psychiatric social worker, believed that only she could properly raise kids. After she died, we got to know our dad a little better. My parents worked hard on their relationship. They loved each other dearly, though love doesn't insure smooth sailing all the time. It is a major job to be married and raise kids. Anyone who makes it through in one piece with great kids deserves kudos.
Our house too Kim. My mother ran it all with the help of our many housekeepers. I was actually raised by several black women, who gave me soul and spirit and a sense of what minorites dealt with. My parents marriage was tight. They loved each other very much, they trusted each other more. I think my father was a ghost of his life though. It was very much a facade of his fears. Outside he was very macho. Inside he was very scared. She was and is today the strengh. They were way into each other, and not so much into us. I got all I needed in a outside way, but not some much inside. But, they were for each other, and when my father was sick later in life, she stoicly cared for him so well. I loved that. I respected that because it was very hard.
Kim, this is interesting but barely scratches the surface. It sounds as if you are saying your parents had fairly traditional gender roles in their marriage.Did this impact the way you approached your own marriage?Is there a story to be shared here?
It wasn't until I became caregiver to my Mom that I learned the true nature of my parents marriage and it was not a happy one. While he provided for us, my father was a womanizer even up to his death. Apparently I even have a step sister somewhere in St Louis whom I would love to meet.Guess even before the nature of their marriage. At the age of 13 I found my father and my Mom's best friend in my parents bed together.While I've had one long term relationship, 20 years, the idea of another leaves me cold. One of the major struggles of my partner and my life together was my trust issues.
My father came from a backwoods racist/sexist/bigoted family. He believed that a wife was the property of a man and was to do whatever he said. We was extremely jealous and would even check the tire tracks in the driveway when he came home to see who had been there that day. (I think this was because he discovered at the age of 19 that his mother, whom he idolized, had always cheated on his father.)My mother was raised to believe that once a woman was married her entire life was dedicated to her husband. The only things important was for her to keep his house clean, his belly full and his bed ready.My father was an alcoholic and my mother had a deep yearning for a different life that she did not realize existed. She needed freedom. She needed the chance to express herself and allow her own personality to come forth.From as far back as I can remember, I was the shoulder that she would cry on every Friday and Saturday night when he wasn't home. Even at the age of four, I was the shoulder that she cried on.When I was fourteen, my mother finally got the courage to divorce my father. She, my younger sister and I moved from Southest Missouri to Oklahoma to start over. For the next few years we were followed by my father, thinking he could still get us back. He even "attempted" suicide in my presence on several occasions. I learned very quickly that these attempts were not to end his life but to garner sympathy. I swore I would never be like my father. I swore that my marriage would be based on love instead of duty. And that is how it is. I have a wonderful wife that is very independent. She is expressive and artistic. She is fun and flirtatious. She believes in me and encourages my art and all other creative outlets that I have.I have complete trust in her. There is not a jealous bone in my body. I do everything I can to lift her up and support everything that she does.We have been together just shy of 19 years and we still feel like newlyweds. I mean, we truly feel like newlyweds.So, the horrible situation of my parent's married life has influenced my life in a positive way. I honestly have the perfect marriage. My parents used to fight on a daily basis. I can count on one hand the number if fights we have had in the last nineteen years.My mother is now married to a wonderful man that I am proud to call "Dad." They have a happy life and will grow old together.Yeah, all stories, no matter how bad, can have a happy ending. You just have to believe in the fairy tale.
I think the roles weren't traditional in that my Mom was the decision maker. I thought I married someone very different from my mom... only to discover that Linda makes many of the decisions... and I often go with her decisions because I'm not as particular as she is... and I want to make her happy (as my dad did).
My Mother and Dad were married for 64 years! My Mother delivered 7 children in the world over a 21 year span, with my father's help of course. That was the glory of their marriage, that and the low voice talking they did pretty often in the early mornings over coffee and big breakfasts served in waves over a few hours. However, they had some royal brawls too and lots of anger which seemed to get handed down to us an awful lot. Both of them worked hard and leaned on us a lot. I know they loved each other, but their visions seemed to be quite different with respect to religion and with respect to money. Once they announced they would separate or at least that was what we thought was going to happen and I banded the kids together and organized a movement for us to "go it alone" without parents - so that we wouldn't have to choose between them and because we were angry with them for the idea that they might leave us in some way! This of course was totally unrealistic on our part - the oldest of us was only 17 maybe. Nowadays there is so much more known and available about relationships and relationship building - back then not so much. In general, I think marriage is a state of mind and in that sense my parents had a strong marriage but without the tools to work through the nitty gritty.
This is interesting. Maybe we think we sometimes move intentionally away from family influences but perhaps we don't actually stray far.Did you consciously try to pick someone very different than your mother?hey, when do we get to see a drawing?
Interesting article: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/comments_blog/2009/12/jenny-sanford-mark-sanford-divorce-does-marriage-stink.html"A reader quoting C.S. Lewis wrote:Love in this second sense -- love as distinct from “being in love” -- is not merely a feeling. It is a deep unity, maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habit; reinforced by (in Christian marriages) the grace which both partners ask, and receive, from God. They can have this love for each other even at those moments when they do not like each other; as you love yourself when you do not like yourself. They can retain this love even when each would easily, if they allowed themselves, be “in love” with someone else. “Being in love” first moved them to promise fidelity: this quieter love enables them to keep the promise. It is on this love that the engine of marriage is run: being in love was the explosion that started it."
I don't think I was too conscious about anything then. Mostly impulsive, I guess.
Ok Joan- My parents were divorced when I was two-- they were so different that I remember one year in the primaries my dad voted for Al Haig and my mom voted for Jesse Jackson. My role models were my grandparents who were all interesting and loving in their own wacky ways. One set (maternal) was not traditional at all (episcopal priest, halfway house founder) kind of like Auntie Mame as grandparents-- one set very traditional but interesting-- funny but the wives handled all the money in BOTH marriages. I guess they taught me that NO MATTER WHAT your marriage is the foundation of your life and your childrens-- (and never to let your kids sleep in your bed). Two lessons that have served me well.
My parents have a loving committed marriage that produced 2 great kids (if I may brag a bit). My sister and I have both married loving and committed partners. My sister got around to it much earlier in life than I did and started a wonderful family. I only found my wife recently and we're contemplating the baby question now. I was truly blessed to have such great models of couplehood, but given that society's messages were that gay people can't get married, I didn't think that was in the cards for me until my heart and circumstance coincided in California. Marriage makes a difference to a relationship in myriad ways and I now relate to my biological family in a different way - collegial; we're all married, now.
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