David Blankenhorn has started a new organization which aims to strengthen the institution of marriage in our modern society. Blankenhorn, formerly an outspoken opponent of marriage equality, is including gays and lesbians in his group.
This wasn’t a complete shock. He had publicly amended his views last year, doing that increasingly rare thing where he takes into consideration reality, instead of how he’d like things to be. He believes that marriage exists to protect and empower children, and that this happens best when children live with their biological parents. Even though that’s what he wants to happen in all cases, he could look outside his window and see that it is not, in fact, what always happens, and that his stated views were being used to hurt people.
So he modified his views to include queer families. And then he looked for ways to reach out to people with whom he had previously disagreed to accomplish his goal of encouraging marriage.
And that’s when he starts to lose me. I don’t think that the primary purpose of marriage is to raise children. Kids are certainly a fun part of being married. I wanted to be married before I had my child because I didn’t want to have one alone. As it turned out, I was lucky to have not only a husband who was a committed and dedicated father, but also a circle of friends and relatives who showed my son by their actions that he was loved, important and delightful.
It’s dangerous to assume that just because someone is a biological parent, that person is the best choice to take care of a kid. Too often, that assumption is dangerous.
Like every child lucky enough, my son grew up and left home. My husband and I stayed married. We weren’t going to have any more children, but, since our marriage wasn’t just about our child, there was no reason to call it quits.
Because, you know, we loved each other.
Which is not to say that every divorce is a failure. Relationships change, and the longer they last, the more likely it is that the changes won’t be to the liking of both parties. Being able to recognize a relationship isn’t working and can’t be changed to work is a sign of maturity, nor immorality.
My marriage wasn’t about our child, or stereotypical gender roles, or the traditional idea of sexual fidelity as a means for the passing down of property. I didn’t submit to my husband. I didn’t keep house. He didn’t bring home the bacon.
My marriage was about laughing, and taking care of each other to the best of our abilities, even when that wasn’t enough. We each fucked up, often. Our marriage survived because we were able to forgive each other.
Every single relationship is different. We are so varied, and we each bring our unique experiences and opinions and expectations to each other in infinite ways. We fail each other if we try to squeeze everyone into the same package.
I’m at an age where my friends start to face medical issues. Because of this, I’ve seen too often how much marriage means, from a legal and community perspective. Being a parent is important, but so is being a partner, taking turns taking care of each other. If social conservatives like David Blankenhorn would include these aspects of marriage in their rush to encourage it, they might just sign me up.
Media Goddess Martha Thomases is slowly getting used to more closet space.