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Saturday, May 1, 2010

Love and marriage

Last weekend Molly, Anneke and I went to Bellingham, Washington to visit friends and pick up my doppler that our dog Zoe chewed to pieces. It was a fun trip. With the dollar at par, and me 25 pounds lighter than the last time we visited, we took the opportunity to do some shopping.

With Anneke's elementary school graduation ceremony and party coming up we were also on a quest for a nice suit. Anneke has wanted a suit since she was about two and a half years old. She has several nice shirts and ties but no suit. By contrast, Ben Anneke's dad does not own a suit (or a nice shirt or tie) nor will he ever. He is a T-shirt and jeans kind of guy, and had been since the day we met over 17 years ago. He even had to borrow a suit for my mom's funeral.

I will be sure to post pictures soon of her new tailored suit. We got two. It was the cutest thing watching her get fitted and admiring herself in the mirror. "I look good." s/he said, with her fathers' lack of modesty. "You look great," I affirmed.

Needless to say, the suit buying procedure tried Miss Molly's patience. As she sat in the suit store, she parked herself near the tuxedo rental area. This started a familiar discussion in our household.

"Why aren't you and daddy married? You really should get married."
"Maybe we will one day." I reply.
I gave up long ago trying to explain why I do not feel the need for my relationship to be affirmed by either the church or the state. Nor do I go into my feelings about how marriage has turned into a mega-consumerist industry, that no longer resembles any ceremony I imagine for myself.

"You should get married now," she insists "you could wear a pretty dress, and daddy can rent one of these tuxedos."
"It costs a lot of money to get married." I say, trying a different approach.
"But you have kids!" she adds "you really should get married.
I no more understand my youngest daughters' "traditional family values" any more than I understand my oldest daughters' desire for a tailored suit.

As I look into her pleading green eyes, I start to contemplate the idea of getting married, to please my children. For years I knew it couldn't happen since my own divorced parents could not be in the same room together without potentially causing a scene. Since my mom passed away 7 years ago, this is no longer a valid deterrent.

Anneke decides to weigh in on this discussion. "I don't think you should get married. You should find a new man, someone better, maybe younger, with a good job." At this point s/he sounds like my mother, which by and large is not a good thing.

"I have thought of trading him in for a younger model" I joke, as Ben is 11 years older than me, and only lately starting to show his age.

What I have realized over the years is, while I am a hopeless romantic and foolish optimist with regard to most things, this is not true of relationships, love and marriage. I would love to think a fairy tale love exists and lasts forever, but sadly I don't. I actually think one should look at relationships like a renewable contract that you evaluate, say, every 5 years. Would I have "renewed" my relationship with Ben over the years? - yes. Will I continue to? - we shall see.
Do I have a little girls' dream of picking out a wedding dress? - yes, it pains my feminist heart to admit. Will I ever get married? - not likely.

I do know, however, if I ever do - Anneke will look great in her suit.

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