My Advice to My Sister on the Night Before She Wed

“Don’t be so in love with the idea of your marriage that you forget to fight.”

My sister and her fiance ... fighting.

That’s right, fight. Fighting is certainly an exercise in communication (although, granted, perhaps not the most efficient or effective communication). But even more importantly, fighting is an exercise in trust and honesty.

It takes trust to show someone your ugliness, your disappointment, your envy and frustration and annoyance. Just taking the step to reveal this says to your partner: “look, what I’m about to say is going to piss you off. But it’s important and I trust you to handle this message”.

No couple is perfectly aligned. Not every feeling is going to be appreciated. But if you’re afraid to express your feelings honestly because of conflict, then what kind of relationship do you have? If you don’t trust your partner enough to be angry at each other, what does the future hold for you?

So fight! Trust your partner enough to communicate honestly, no matter where the discussion leads. It just might save your marriage.

Plus, I hear that make-up sex is amazing.

The Next Level

Kate and I have an awesome relationship. I’m extremely satisfied and proud of what we’ve accomplished, and it is also encouraging to hear that we serve as relationship role models for others around us.

I was telling Kate last night that I really had no idea that things would be this good when I proposed. (Good, yes, but not this good). Now that I know, I want to propose to her all over again. But what would I be proposing? Is there something beyond marriage? Should there be?

The Power of Being Ungentlemanly

Kate and I were watching the Amazing Race last week.  During a difficult stretch for one of the teams, one competitor remarked to her boyfriend, “I expect you to be gentlemanly!”  (Or something like that — I’m paraphrasing).

I was immediately struck by the thought that Kate would never say something like that.  Because, awesomely, she doesn’t have an expectation for me to “be gentlemanly”.

Of course I act with kindness, politeness, and respect towards her, but the difference is that I do it out of, well, respect.  And love.  I don’t “act like a gentleman” — that’s just going through the motions, doing what is expected, and being conscientious of neither the motivations for, nor the effects of, your actions.

If anything, the place for being a gentleman is outside of your relationship.  When you’re with people with whom you don’t have strong ties, then “acting like a gentleman” is by far the best course of action.  Those rules for interaction are an important shorthand for human relationships.  But if you’re still using that shorthand to navigate your closest relationships, then something is missing.
It is wonderful to continue discovering ways in which our relationship is unique, powerful, and unconstrained.

(Kate would like to add that she is always lady-like.)

Missing Ruby

Work is ramping up for a big release next week, and so I’m working longer hours than usual. And that means I’ll be spending less time with Ruby.

Right now my work hours are shifted a little early than in the morning so that I can come home and have dinner with my family. That tends to not work so well during crunch time, though, as the principals tend to work into the evening and things can really get interesting at work around 5pm or 6pm. So, for this week I’m working into the evening and not getting home until around Ruby’s bedtime.

Ruby’s day is only about 12 hours long, and with the bus ride I can easily be away from home for all of it. Today I managed to catch her for a few minutes at each end of her day but I could, theoretically, go an entire day (or days) without seeing Ruby.

It seems particularly hard to spend significant amounts of time away from Ruby — harder than it is to be away from Kate. I’ll think about Ruby and Kate spending time together and feel like I’m falling behind. I want to be just as important a figure in Ruby’s life as Kate is, but of course in reality that’s impossible. One of us needs to work (and actually, I’m quite happy to be the one earning a paycheck right now).

DOMA upheld in Washington State

Today the Washington State Supreme Court upheld the Defense of Marriage Act as constitutional.

One should note, however, that they explicitly did not say whether or not it was a good idea — in fact, they hinted otherwise.  But their job is not to make policy, only decide if policy is constitutional, and they sided with the legislature in this case.

Their arguments once again showed that the fundamentalists driving this issue are much more of a threat to my marriage than gay marriage.  From the majority opinion:

…because the legislature was entitled to believe that limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples furthers procreation, essential to survival of the human race, and furthers the well-being of children by encouraging families where children are reared in homes headed by the children’s biological parents. Allowing same-sex couples to marry does not, in the legislature’s view, further these purposes. Accordingly, there is no violation of the privileges and immunities clause.

What this implies is that the purpose of marriage is to have kids.  So if you’re unable to have kids for biological reasons, this ruling threatens your right to marry.  If you’re past your prime and divorced or widowed, this ruling threatens your right to re-marry.  If you choose not to have children?  Sorry, but marriage clearly isn’t for you.  By attempting to define my marriage, and its goals, DOMA-style legislation is a serious threat to my heterosexual marriage.

I hate to haul out slippery-slope arguments, but what’s next: attempts to legally define my role as a husband?  I stay at home while my wife works.  I cook dinner and she mows the lawn.  She manages the finances and can do more chin-ups than me.  I pick the colors when we paint the walls.  How soon until some right-wing nutjob decides that it’d be better for the children if my wife stayed home and stayed out of men’s affairs? 

 Just like we look back and cluck our tongues at the sexists and racists of the past century, our children will be doing the same to the homophobes of the present day. 

Your Bad Choice

Cynical Dad relates a great story about his wife defending his honor at Target (while shopping for Father’s day cards):

Zoey: Why does it say that?
Ella: It means that Daddy gets to take the day off.
Unknown Woman Standing A Few Feet From Them: Which is also every day.

Now I would love to tell you that Ella turned around, pounced on the woman, and bitchslapped her senseless while the kids cheered her on. But Ella did tell the woman I was a caring, loving stay-at-home dad who seldom received days off as the woman backpedaled, stammered, and apologized.

 And then this story is related in that post’s comments:

I recently ran into the Random Lady in Costco who started gushing at how beautiful my daughter was and how my “husband, oh sorry, sperm donor, ha, ha” must hardly exist in my life any more because I couldn’t possibly resist loving my daughter a million times more than him, especially because she is so beautiful and really, the only reason I got married was to have her anyway, right? When I showed a disgusted, appalled face she only egged me on, “Oh, come one, you know it’s true. Don’t pretend you have feelings left for your husband… he’s not even here to hear you say it. You know this little girl is so much more…” blah, blah, blah.

I don’t have much sympathy for women who complain about stereotypical father behavior while, at the same time, reinforcing that behavior with their comments.  You know what?  You chose that belching, beer-swilling, covered-in-motor-oil, la-Z-boy-lovin’ dullard.  Although it’s convenient and easy to just stick him in the man-role while you live in the woman-role, you really shouldn’t be surprised when he exactly lives up to your expectations.

Kate and I work hard every day to push past the conventional limits that stereotypes suggest.  Because of that, we’re both better parents. 

I love being a husband, I love being a father, I love being a parent alongside my wife, and I’m intensely proud of how I live in each of those roles.  To the nameless woman at Target: you could have done better, and I’m living proof.  But Kate’s the one who made a good choice and she deserves me.