Posts Tagged ‘marriage’

and when she was gone
    the house lost its voice

no laughter echoed
    no giggles,
    no braying,
    no full-bellied mirth

banter lost its purpose
    no rejoinders,
    no quips,
    no quotes apropos

sounds of life fell silent
    no snores,
    no clatter of dishes,
    no questions shouted from two rooms away

instead, only
    stockinged feet
        on hardwood floors
    hushed whispers
        with the laconic housecat
    the ticking of clocks
        and soundless steeping tea

for when she was gone
    it felt wrong
        to laugh
        to love
        to live

but spring was coming
    her favorite season
        and her roses still wanted
            to bloom

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I do not have children.

This was by design.

I helped raise my brothers, eight years my junior. I experienced the trials of their infancy, the stress of their youthful mistakes, at least as much as an elder brother can.

I was not completely averse to the concept of procreation. Luckily, though, the woman I bonded with for life had opinions similar to mine, and so we have been happily childless for nigh on forty years.

And yet, there are children in our lives. The progeny of relations. The nieces and nephews of friends. The kids and grandkids of those in our closest circle.

This weekend I will have the honor of joining in marriage two young people who have been a part of our lives for several years. In June, I did the same for another couple from our innermost circles. In both cases, of both couples, I can’t help but feel a sense of pride when thinking of who these young people are.

But this is unjustified, undeserved, for I did nothing to raise these wonderful young people. I did nothing to mold their morals, their beliefs, their trueness to self, their admirable ethic, their compassion, their cleverness, their devotion to others, their loving spirits. That was the work of their parents, grandparents, aunties and uncles, elder cousins. That is their pride to take, not mine.

And yet, I feel pride.

Reflecting on this, it is probably more accurate to say that what I am feeling is a bit switched around. What feels like pride in them is actually pride in knowing them. I am proud that these remarkable young people want me in their lives. I am proud that they esteem me enough to want me to officiate their wedding. I am proud to know them, to call them friends, and to love them.

It is as close as I will ever come to feeling a father’s pride, but it is more than I ever expected, and I am grateful for it.



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(Note: I’ve tried to start this piece about eight different ways, including caveats, trigger warnings, and explanations as to why I’m addressing this to men and not to all folks, regardless of their place on the gender identity spectrum. To be totally honest, I’ve only seen this behavior in cisgender males, so that is to whom I speak. Feel free to change the pronouns to fit your own experience.)

Now . . . that said:

Dear Men,

I’ve seen us do some stupid-ass stuff in the past, and I’m fully aware that we will continue to do stupid-ass stuff in the future. Some of this stupid-ass stuff is so outrageous that it takes us out of the genetic equation entirely. Other stupid-ass stuff merely (and hopefully) teaches us something, something like “let’s not do that again.”

Most of this stupid-ass stuff results from our testing the limits of our abilities (and/or physics), to see if our abilities are in sync with reality. For instance, I once believed I could, in one jump, go from both feet firmly on the ground to both feet on the countertop. Whilst wearing clogs (hey, it was the early ’80s). My belief, as it happens, was misplaced. My shins still bear the scars. Lesson learned.

However, some of our stupid-ass stuff hurts people other than just ourselves. Sometimes, we hurt others more than ourselves. And sometimes we hurt only others. These are harder lessons to learn because the ones we hurt, well, often they’re the ones we love most, and they hide their pain because of their love for us. We, not seeing their pain, continue on with our stupid-ass stuff, ignorant of the damage we cause.

Case in point: fear of marriage. (more…)

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Today, I married my sister.

I’ve been to many weddings, a good few more than you, I’d wager. As a musician, I’ve been to scores, suffering through endless repetitions of Pachelbel’s Canon in D Major. As a groomsman, I’ve been to a handful, often a bit green in the gills, sweating vodka and swaying with my fellows in a shared hangover that hung around us like a fog. As a guest, there have been at least a dozen, some where I just sat and enjoyed the spectacle of hope, and others where I read remarks, made a toast, or simply helped with setup and tear-down. My sister and I were in a wedding before—my first—with me as groom and her as bridesmaid. (more…)

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This Tuesday last, my wife and I celebrated our thirty-sixth wedding anniversary. While we definitely hit some bumps along the way, we’re both very glad that we married and that we stayed together.

Not everyone is a fan of marriage. Back when I still went out a-courting, the anti-marriage refrain was usually “It’s just a piece of paper!”, with second place awarded to those who derided marriage as a patriarchal institution designed to keep women subservient and disempowered. The latter opinion may have been true at one time, but I would argue that marriage today actually provides women with more power, rather than less. As for it being “just a piece of paper,” well, that’s never been true, and in fact, the piece of paper is the least important thing about a marriage. (more…)

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30 Jul 83In 1983, carrying a cellular phone was like walking around with a stick blender in your hand (except heavier), and cassette-playing Walkmans were de rigeur.

In 1983, we argued VHS versus Betamax (I lost that one), saw the birth of the internet, and wondered what Microsoft WIndows would look like.

In 1983, M*A*S*H was ending but “The A-Team” was starting up, Debra Winger died in “Terms of Endearment,” and George Lucas disappointed the world with Ewoks.

Also, in 1983, on July 30, I said “I do, I shall, I will,” for the first and only time, standing before a company of friends and family beneath a canopy of redwoods in a hometown park. (more…)

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Today, marks my 29th wedding anniversary. During that time, I’ve learned a little. I don’t pretend to know the dynamics of same-sex couples or have any advice for women in a marriage. I’m a guy, I’m hetero-, I’m in a marriage; this is all I know. So, gentlemen, if you are interested, pull up a chair.

First and foremost: Commit to it. If you aren’t 100% committed to it, don’t even bother. There’s nothing better in this stressful world than knowing that your partner has your six, but if you’re unable to do that for her, if you’re still looking out for something better or worse, something on the side, you’re not ready. Naturally, the same goes for her, but right now I’m talking to you.

Next: learn to listen. Women are complicated. We males, we’re the red-shirts of human society; we’re the guys that go down with Kirk and Spock to the planet and never come back. We’re designed simply, our needs are simple, our thoughts are simple and straightforward. We see a problem, we solve a problem. Women are not simple. Women think things through. Women use words to think things through; lots of words. Here’s where it gets tricky. Sometimes a woman will tell you about a problem. She’s talking about it, thinking it through, maybe venting a little. You want to help, you want to solve the problem, but you can come up with solution after solution and she’ll shoot them down as fast as you can suggest them, because she doesn’t want you to fix it. She just wants to talk about it. This is foreign to the male brain, but it works for them.

When she does give you a problem to solve, finish what you start. Don’t put up new cabinets and leave the doors off, don’t redo the bathroom and not repaint. And this goes for big things, too, like cars and jobs and schools and kids. Follow-through is the best guarantee of success, and if you need a list to make sure you don’t forget something, write a list. Just get the job done and get it done on time.

Last one for today: be ready to apologize. This is a big one, because a little apology can go a long way. Sure, you may have justifications and rationalizations for why you’re an hour late (I lost track of the time. You said you weren’t hungry.) and you can get all big and scary and defensive (Why didn’t you remind me? Why didn’t you start without me?) but none of that matters because the moment you get steamed, you’ve lost. Just suck it up and say you’re sorry, and do it soon. Storm off and pout for twenty minutes if you must, but then suck it up, get back in there, and apologize. If you’re not man enough to do that, you’ve got bigger problems.

It boils down to this: grow the hell up, guys. Quit being that spoiled little brat or that randy teenager or that chest-thumping yahoo. Quit spending so much time being male and start being a man. Trust, transparency, and a little tenderness will help you avoid hard times.


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