February 6, 2015
Carl Hiaasen, Disney World, honeymoon, intimate relationship, marital arguments, New York Times Bestseller
Imagine this: a marriage or intimate relationship where there has never been an argument or, at the most, a heated discussion that ends with agreeing to disagree. No such thing, you say, but why not? Is it a prerequisite that such relationships must have fights about stuff? It all depends, as the lawyers say.
Most of the time such arguments are about power and control. In Carl Hiaasen’s New York Times Bestseller from the 90’s, STORMY WEATHER, there is a scene early in the book about a newly wed couple who are at Disney World for their honeymoon when the devastating Hurricane Andrew strikes the Miami metro and the husband declares they are going an adventure (to Miami) instead of Epcot to which she responds very negatively.
“Max, I don’t want to do this. Please.”
He gave her stiff, fatherly hug. She knew he was about to speak to her as if she were six years old. “Bonnie,” Max Lamb said to his new wife. “My beautiful little Bonnie, now listen. Disney World we can do anytime. …But how often does a hurricane hit? You heard the weatherman, honey ‘The Storm of the Century,’ he called it. How often does a person get to see something like that!”
Bonnie Lamb couldn’t stand her husband’s lordly tone. She couldn’t stand it so much that she’d have done anything to shut him up.
“All right, Max. Bring me my robe.”
He kissed her noisily on the forehead. “Thatta girl.”
What struck me about this passage, other than the utter absurdity of Max’s attitude and action, is how common such exchanges pass for “marital arguments”. Anytime there are two people making decisions about anything, I would suggest neither is in control. The results of the conversation have to satisfy each one’s ideas and feelings. Otherwise, start over.
April 6, 2014
Ceremony, Uncategorized, Weddings
cultural changes in marriages, Equality of Marriage, same-gender couples, wedding ceremony
Pre the swinging ’60s, when your grandparents were young adults, the idea of living together before marriage was socially unacceptable. While some couples dared to try it, they dared not do so openly – for the judgment of society could be cruel. Gay couples also were in jeopardy of social condemnation.
In 2014, however, living together before marriage has become more the rule than the exception – the “new normal.” And gay relationships too are becoming mainstream in the eyes of most Americans. Recognizing this cultural shift is important for Justices of the Peace who help couples design their wedding ceremonies. Often the old words and assumptions underlying the “traditional” wedding ceremony don’t work anymore and need to be updated.
In the last few years, every couple I have married lived together before tying the knot. Some brought children to the wedding. We worked to bring these little ones into the ceremony. While traditional wedding verbiage might still work in these cases, the modern wedding ceremony should be able to accommodate the reality of children born before wedlock, or the realities of second or third marriages. The outdated Victorian notions of the “virgin” bride and groom – and one marriage for life – rarely reflect the circumstances of couples getting married today, who deserve nevertheless to have a wedding that honors them.
In addition, same-gender couples are entitled to feel that the modern wedding ceremony captures and respects their experience. I worked with an older same-gender couple a few weeks ago to remove heterosexual biases from the language of their wedding script. After 25 years together, with two children entering high school, the laws of their state and country have finally recognized the legitimacy of their union. They deserve to have a wedding ceremony that befits and validates their deep love and commitment to one another and their family.
With the turn of the 21st century, our culture has turned a corner in our views of sexuality and marriage. Today, many young couples test the waters with each other before taking those serious steps down the aisle, and gay couples are delighting in their freedom to participate fully in our societal rites and customs.
If you are gay, have children, contemplating your second, third or fourth marriage, or simply have a different idea about what your marriage ceremony should look like, don’t be shy about asking your Justice of the Peace to modify the language of your ceremony to fit your circumstances and ideas. Of course, most JPs are more than willing to adapt your ceremony in any way that feels meaningful to you. But make sure you select the JP that you feel respects your need to be fully “you” in your wedding ceremony.
(This blog was originally posted on the FindaJP.com blog. FindaJP.com is THE site to find advice and guidance about wedding officiants.)
March 29, 2014
General Words, sexual abuse
Dartmouth College, domestic abuse, rape, sexual assault
The other day after all the students were off my school bus I found a photo of a little girl. I pinned it on the dashboard and the next day a third grader said “Hey, that’s me when I was two years old.” She is one of my favorites, which probably started Halloween before last when another kid, referring to my costume, said of her “She is afraid of clowns”. That afternoon, having taken off my rainbow wig to look a little less threatening, I chatted with her about it. Her conclusion: “I don’t think school bus drivers should be clowns.” So there, ‘…out of the mouths of…’
As cute and sweet as she is, she is not the only lovable child on my bus route but her photo from over five years ago was made achingly poignant by a fresh not-guilty verdict in a rape trial involving Dartmouth students. My little friend should grow up to be a young woman full of life and love and she should have all the protection we can give her so that she can thrive with strength. Agreed? Then how is it that in 2014 America on an Ivy League campus, a young woman, asleep in her own dorm room be awaked to an unwelcome invader having sex with her and then find her accusations ignored by a jury?
I am sure some of you will try to justify the man being acquitted. You will talk about legal issues or substance abuse or maybe even use archaic male-superior arguments but imagine the female student is my beautiful third grader a few years in the future or is your daughter or niece or granddaughter. Then, if you can see through your tears of anger and sadness, try to come up with something, anything, rational about such a conclusion to this trial. I defy you.
January 11, 2014
General Words, Meditations
hurt feelings, mental-health, serenity prayer, undeserved acts
Years ago when, for the first times ever, I rode public transportation in a big city, I was once in a crowded subway when I saw a woman’s bag about to slip to the floor. I reached out to catch it for her but she jerked it away with a “strong” verbal warning for me to keep my hands off. I was shocked and embarrassed but willing to learn the lesson: what seems like an innocent or maybe even admirable action on my part can be completely misunderstood and reacted to in unbelievable ways. I was relatively young at the time but too old to have not learned that lesson earlier. Talk about naiveté. You mean people understand and react as THEY can or wish, not as I want them to? Huh!
Now, this many years later, I continue to be given examples of this phenomenon and have to relearn the same truth over and over. Why do people do things that hurt my feelings when all I am doing is positive? A few years ago, I was up for a promotion to a permanent, benefited position in an institution where I had worked diligently and responsibly for over a dozen years. I was the only one, or so I and my co-workers thought, who was really eligible for the job. However, a few days after I had assumed the process would be completed, we received an email announcement from our supervisor that a new hire had received the position. There was no personal explanation to me, no rationale that I could see and no recourse.
I can’t count the times I have experienced this to one degree or another. Most people have. It turns out that I (we) have no control over what others think and do. Imagine that. Sometimes we are all in sync and other times, it seems, on two different planets. This is the case, in spite all our efforts to express, explain or exhibit our worthy and laudable behavior. So, it seems to me we have two choices, either waste a ton of emotional energy in reaction or remember what one of my favorite tee-shirt mottos says: It isn’t about you. Well, maybe sometimes it is a little bit but the same principle still applies. People who, under most circumstances, would not, if they thought of you at all, do the least mean thing to you, will sometimes effect you in hurtful ways.
What may be most frustrating is that nothing can be done about it. One could have email addresses or phone numbers and even possibilities of face-to-face confrontations but all the argument and explanation in the world won’t really change anything. It is, as the trite phrase goes, what it is. That being the case, forget it and go on to something more fun, an NFL game on TV or a nap!
P.S. Women like the one on the train have it right. So, guys, leave them completely alone unless you get an authentic invitation from them.
January 8, 2014
What does a run-of-the-mill blogger write about having three successive flights cancelled and ending up stranded 1500 miles from home? Probably nothing new except for a few unique experiences attributable to our whims.
To wit, we visited the Textile Center in Minneapolis. In this high-tech digital age, it is refreshing to see what artists can do with small strands pulled from the cocoons of worms or a bunch of one inch square scraps of fabric. Such a place makes it easy to ignore sub-zero temperatures outside.
Another personal quirk, liking to wander aimlessly in a city, took me to the downtown Minneapolis skyway system. I parked in an indoor ramp near the Metrodome and entered the maze of fast food, convenience stores, ATMs, and the entries to every variety retail establishment one could imagine. All this covering blocks and blocks without ever going outside in the cold.
Several times this week I have seen the light rail train sliding back and forth between Target Field and the Mall of America and thought that maybe a couple of round trips might be fun. I wouldn’t even have to go out because I could park near the Mall door and drop down to the Metro Transit station to jump on board. However you may be happy to know I haven’t gone completely stir crazy because I headed for the MOA Apple Store instead.
This whole parallel universe thing seems about to shift back to normal. We have our place in the boarding line for tomorrow evening, the weather has moderated along our route, and even if we get cancelled again we are driving the rental car back to New Hampshire. However, never let it be said that we just sat around and fumed. We did stuff. Isn’t that what life is all about?