Sunday, October 23, 2011

My Back Pages: Marriage: Why it's Not an easy proposition.

My Back Pages: Marriage: Why it's Not an easy proposition.: My Wife and I just celebrated our 32 nd Wedding Anniversary this past Thursday. 32 years of marriage! We've actually been together almost 3...

Marriage: Why it's Not an easy proposition.

My Wife and I just celebrated our 32nd Wedding Anniversary this past Thursday. 32 years of marriage! We've actually been together almost 34 years. In this day and age, this is quite an accomplishment, if you think about it. With the number of couples getting married declining each year, and with the average duration of todays marriages is 7.8 years, any marriage that goes past 15 years is considered a great success. Today, people enter into a marriage betting on it to fail. You have pre-nups, contracts that guarantee you part of the marital pie and laying the ground rules of what is fair game in the inevitable divorce action. Gone are the days when a couple that entered into marriage went with a belief that they would be together forever. Now, it seems that it's more of a declaration of possession for a few years until the happy couple is no longer happy, and are ready to move on to the next phase of their lives. 
To me, it's a sad statement on our times that fewer and fewer people are willing to work hard and compromise to make something that, to me, was once so beautiful and sacred.
 Marriage is not easy, by any stretch of the imagination. When I think back to when we got married, we both were coming out of failed marriages. We each had two children, which, by the way, we were raising together. Getting any financial support from the absentee parents was a farce. So, for the first couple of years it was just my salary, and after that, Sheryl just had to go to work. We had Danielle because we wanted to have a child together and she acted as the glue to bring the whole thing together. She was a very wanted child. 
Our story is not what this is about. I just use us as an example of what can be if you work at it. As I was saying, marriage is not easy. We enter into it of sharing and doing everything together. Forget it... that's not happening. You have to work, unless you are extremely wealthy.. that is just a fact of life. If we didn't, what would be the point. Work requires you to be away from the home at least 9 hours a day, if you are lucky, but it's usually more like 10 to 12 hours a day, when you take in the commute and lag time. So, out of a 24 hour day, that leaves you anywhere from 12 to 14 hours together, right? No... you have to sleep, and I don't care if you sleep wrapped around each other, once you are asleep, you are on your own. So, lets be conservative and say you sleep 6 hours a night. That still leaves you 4 to 6 hours to be together. Of course, there are other things that cut into that: Phone calls, neighbors, other miscellaneous things that cut into it, so that, if you are lucky, you get a couple of hours that you can dedicate to each other. But wait! If you have children, they, too, need your time. When they are tiny, they need to be fed, bathed, loved, played with, etc. When they get older, there are school functions, organized sports and other organized activities (I'm so glad that we did not do this when I was young. I made my own friends and we had pick-up games and the Boy's Club!) So much to do, very little time. So, you get an hour, maybe two, on weekdays to actually be together. Weekends, if you are luck enough to both get them off together,  you can get more time together. If you have children, most of it will revolve around their activities. 
So you can see right away that there are built in roadblocks to having a successful marriage. But wait, as the man in the infomercial says, there's more!  Most of us, when we married, were young. We were still growing, still forming as people. I don't think that you ever stop, you continue to evolve well into your later years. If you have a need to continue to learn and grow, as I do, it may never stop. So, imagine how hard it is for two people who have to go to work. They spend most of their times with the people that they work with. They are out there, continuing to grow, forming new relationships, new ideas and thoughts, and all this away from their significant other. This is why many marriages fail. If you don't make a concerted effort to grow together, you most assuredly will grow apart.   
Marriage is not easy, in fact it's probably the most difficult thing that two people can undertake together. You have to learn to get used to each others individuality. You may have certain things that you do a certain way, and your spouse may do them the exact opposite. It may even annoy you. Get used to it, because this is part of what makes them the person that you fell in love with, and if you can't get used to that little thing, you will never get over the big things.
  Don't think that, if you can accept the differences, big and small, that it will always be smooth sailing on untroubled waters from there on out... it will not. Things tend to crop up, financial troubles, ill health. You have to deal with these. People tend to drift in and out of your lives, many with very bad intent. You have to be strong and deal with it. People who you think are your friends may be nothing more than opportunists waiting for a weak moment to come and tear you and yours apart. You have to be vigilant, but not paranoid. You have to learn to adjust to the changes in you spouse, as well as the changes in you. We are not machines, but constantly evolving beings with thoughts and feelings and opinions. It can be done, if you just make the effort.
So, to those who, like me, have come through it and are still together after all fo that, I say Congratulations! To those of you who are going to start down this road, or who have started and are wondering if it gets better, I can tell you that it does, and that, after all is said and done, it is really worth it. Good Luck!

Monday, October 10, 2011

My Back Pages: Religious Intolerance In America.. Did we take a s...

My Back Pages: Religious Intolerance In America.. Did we take a s...: From Article 6 of the Constitution of the United States Of America: The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of t...

Religious Intolerance In America.. Did we take a step backward?

From Article 6 of the Constitution of the United States Of America: The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.
Let me extract the portion that I am looking for : No religious test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or Public Trust under the United States. 

That says it all, does it not? It means that you do not need to be a Evangelical Christian to hold any office in the this great country. The first people who colonized this country were running from religious repression. And yet, I hear this Reverend Jeffress the other night calling another man’s religion a cult and inferring that, because of his religion, he is not fit to hold office. We have just come through a long, protracted witch hunt over the current President’s religion. There were more conspiracy theories about Obama and his religion, his citizenship and his rightful ability to hold office than there are about the Kennedy assassination and the 1947 crash in Roswell, New Mexico combined. And they continue to this day. Now, we have the controversy over Governor Romney’s religion. This is just anti-American in more ways than I can count. We live now in the 21st Century, and still we have religious fanatics that want to control the government and every aspect of our lives. How can we, as a people, condemn the religious fanatics in the Middle East when we, in fact, have sections of our own people who wish to run our government as a quasi-religious democracy? Are we to continue this child’s game of ‘my god is greater than Your God’? Is this, in fact, how we want to elect leaders in the free world, by what religious sect or order that the candidate belongs to? We are a country of many peoples, not one religion. There are Catholics, various fundamentalist Christian sects, Lutherans, Methodists, Baptists, Anglicans, Episcopalians, Orthodox Jews, Reformed Jews, Conservative Jews, Hassidic Jews, Muslims, Mormons, Hindu’s , Sikhs, the list goes on and on. What gives any one religion the right to say that they are the ones to lead this country? I thought that we were over this nonsense when Kennedy was elected... but, no.. it’s worse today than it ever was. I remember being told by nuns when I was a young boy that anyone who was not Catholic was going to hell, no questions asked. Even at the time, that struck me as wrong. And yet, we have the same thing going on today, in 2011. We have a council of religious leaders, read evangelical Christians, trying to dictate to the Republican Party who they should nominate for President. Never mind his or her qualifications. Is that the way that we want to elect the next President?  We are in serious trouble in this country. The jobs have left to go to the far east. Our own businesses have deserted us because of the bad trade agreements made over the last 20 years. We are winding down two wars. Do we really want the next leader chosen by where, or if, he goes to worship on his or her sabbath? 
 What we need is a leader. Someone who understands our problems and can put together a group of people to find us a way out of our morass. I cannot, no, I will not stand by silently and watch people again throw out conspiracy theories because someone is a Mormon, or a Jew, or a Catholic, or any other religion. What matters is how a man or woman performs their duties. Their religion, and every other aspect of their private lives should be their business. If they perform their jobs to the best of their abilities, that’s all we can ask for.
 So, my question to all of you, gentle readers, is: Are we going to stand up and be the America that was designed by the founders, and forged through 200+ years of blood, sweat, and tears? Or are we going to let a small group of religious zealots decide the fate of this nation for the next 8 years? I know how I feel. The rest is up to all of you and the American electorate.