Marriage, I do not think it means what you think it means – musings by a marriage cynic

Some of my friends – and mostly friends of friends – are euphoric. A few days ago the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that any mutually consenting couple of any gender may marry, in any of the 50 United States, and be legal.  Forget common law unions, you can have a little piece of paper that says you are legally hitched. You who celebrate, may I ask what you have gained? If Millennials don’t marry, if Baby-boomers once believed in free love anyway; who is this marriage ruling for exactly?


Marriage.  You keep using that word.  I do not think it means what you think it means.
Marriage. You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

You may say this Supreme Court ruling was in favor of love. Will marriage guarantee you are loved? For centuries couples have married for love and just as many (if not more) have married for security, power or position. The legal act of Marriage does not put an end to longing and yearning. You will not be alone anymore, but you may still be lonely. Married or not, your love may or may not last.

You may say this ruling makes it possible for those in love to make a legal commitment.  Let me know how that works for you.  In my experience, people who are committed are committed with or without the legalities and people who are commitment- challenged are not magically changed by a legal document.

Is this SCOTUS ruling resoundingly in favor of sanctioned sex?  As a consummate legalist, this where I bit the dust, not once, but two times. What is it about this word sanctioned that adds catalyst to sex? If there is any more powerful motivation than sex, for a legalist, it must be the word sanctioned. What else is motivation enough for giving up your good birth name and taking on that of another? For becoming collateral? For placing all of your worldly goods, talents, reputation and education at the behest of a spouse – legally – so you have to go through an even more convoluted legal process if you ever want to get back what was yours in the beginning?

Do you think this ruling insures society’s affirmation and acknowledgement of your relationship? Opinion or Feelings are deeply rooted and not often changed by mere laws. There were people who did not sanction nor acknowledge my second marriage.  It was legal.  It was reasonable and well thought out. No matter the reasons or legalities – I was a divorced woman so a second marriage could never be acknowledged.

Do we need this ruling to legitimatize procreation?  It no longer takes a conjugal relationship of one man and one woman to procreate. I know of more than one family that consists of a committed man and woman and a test tube baby.

Do you see this as a nod in favor of companionship?  You can have solid, caring committed companionship without the legal paper that says you are married. Loyal friendships often endure for decades, simply because they are unchallenged by the legalities of marriage.

Do you think legal marriage automatically provides medical benefits? I was married for a total of 31 years. During only eight of those years did I enjoy medical coverage as a benefit of legal marriage.

To raise children! Perhaps that is the most worthy goal for legal marriage. It takes two.  At times, it even takes a village. Preferably extended family.  My heart goes out to the single parent trying to give the best life possible to children who do not have two very present parents fulltime.  Once again, I am not convinced that a marriage certificate guarantees a stable childrearing team, but yes, let’s do our best to provide a nurturing environment for the children.

It is my sad conclusion, after a lifetime of experience and observation, that you cannot legislate morality or love or commitment; nor control it with a bit of legal parchment.

Truth is, there are many wonderful things to be had with or without the benefit of legal marriage:





A village







In spite of my litany of negatives, some people still want desperately to be married.  And some need desperately to be sanctioned. Though I’m sticking with Inigo Montoya, in conclusion, may I heartily say,

“Dear Friends of every inclination,

May you be happy; may you be merry;

May you be gay and marry;

But most of all, may you love and be loved in return.




When octogenarians fail to individuate

The woman was barely in her sixties, trim, fit, well-kept; in fact, she still shopped for her clothes in the junior department, not because she was an ill-adjusted old lady, but because clothes from every other department had to be adjusted to fit.  She didn’t look a day over 45. She arrived at the party late, when things were breaking up and people were dispersing – an accurate indicator of her desire to be somewhere else, maybe up in the mountains, solitary. A distant acquaintance had invited her to this neighborhood party – pressed her to come – to someone else’s neighborhood.  Her parent’s neighborhood.  So she curtailed her hiking activities on her day off and slid in – to old home plate -just in time to greet the other guests and wave goodbye.

For a moment, her eighty-two-year-old mother’s face lit with pleasure on seeing her. Then a passing and quickly veiled expression of shock was directed toward her still shapely and tan legs protruding from stylish shorts, followed by composed greeting and introductions. Octogenarian Mama covered well, but her compulsions did not escape the 60-year-old woman. Mama tugged two or three times at the side of her own skirt bringing the fabric ever lower over her knees. It was a familiar gesture to the woman, one her mother employed liberally during the teen years to remind the daughter to cover her legs, to be more modest. 42 years.  42 years later, Mama could beam with pride outwardly, yet her subconscious betrayed her embarrassment through compulsive action.

It would be uncharitable to infer the older woman had not grown over the years. In as much as she was capable, within her limits, she made the effort to acknowledge the changes in culture, the successes of her children, to express her pride in their achievements, though they were certainly not making the exact choices she instilled in them. Like most mothers of grown children, she wanted to be a part of their lives as often as possible.  And like most grown, well-adjusted adults, the children pursued lives of their own in other cities and visited their parents sparingly. Healthily, the children, it seems, have become successful individuals. It is Mama who has failed to individuate. One simple gesture revealed volumes.  She still sees the daughter as an extension of herself. Daughter’s legs are showing and she is mortified. Who can save her from the shame?  Only herself. She must shake off that mortification and individuate. Learn to be happy and at peace by savoring her own independence as a unique individual. Respect and applaud the independence and individuation of others.  She is no longer responsible for her children.  Her reputation does not rest on them. And, in truth, they are not responsible for her happiness.


May you be happier than you have been in a long time

She looked happy and healthy there in the staff picture and I told her so, whereupon she confessed to being happier than she has been in a long time.  So where does this happiness come from? I say it comes because finally, her basic needs are met.

Some of us are able to soldier on indefinitely without one or more of our basic needs being satisfied.  She is one of those toughies. It is arduous work. We may be hungry for a time, homeless for a week, not belong or not be loved for a season. Relentless poverty eventually takes its toll. Often, we are so consumed by basic survival needs that we cannot create or produce at optimum levels. Our creative work, our self-actualization suffers.

“If these “deficiency needs” are not met – with the exception of the most fundamental (physiological) need – there may not be a physical indication, but the individual will feel anxious and tense. Maslow’s theory suggests that the most basic level of needs must be met before the individual will strongly desire (or focus motivation upon) the secondary or higher level needs.”

In this case, she is happy because her basic Maslowian needs of food and shelter are met and she is free to relax in joy and create. She is dependent in the sense that part of her job security includes room and board, yet she is not totally dependent.  She is independent and interdependent because she pursued this position and works hard daily to earn and maintain it. Someone acknowledges her value, promotes her well-being, provides the right amount of training and challenging outdoor activity; all in a beautiful mountain setting.

How would you like to be happier than you have been in a long time?  Why not set about to take care of yourself?  To consciously address your basic needs?  A good job may be the first step – preferably doing something you love that includes serving others while taking care of yourself. It is hugely fulfilling to be independent enough to take responsibility for yourself and have enough to share.  Frequent beautiful places.  Exercise.  Don’t quit on your music, or writing, or reading, or things that enrich your life and nourish your soul. Sleep well.  Eat well. May you be happier than you have been in a long time.


I thought I was going crazy, but I’m just growing older

Colorado Rocky Mountain high hiking early on a hazy summer morning may find you more than a little bit high – you may be positively loopy.  I thought I was going crazy.

To begin with, I rose 45 minutes earlier on my day off just to take a hike with a friend. We both needed a break. Real Estate has been a tough business these past few years. My management job is caught somewhere between the vision and the reality. We arranged a luxury hike – my car was parked at the lower trailhead and someone was dropping us off at the upper. All you have to do upon completing a luxury hike is get in your waiting car and go out to lunch. I parked my car, retrieved my knapsack, double-checked that I locked my car and climbed into the backseat of the waiting vehicle.

Secondly, on our way to the trailhead, we passed a late model abandoned car parked eerily at right angels to the side of the road, both front tires in the ditch, obstructing an entire lane, which was somewhat unsettling.

When we arrived at the drop-off point, our elevation gain had been roughly two-thousand feet over that of the valley below where we live.  It usually takes more than that to make me lightheaded, but hey, there’s a first time for everything and I felt the teeniest bit dizzy.

Our driver pulled into a space at the trailhead.  We grabbed our daypacks – complete with 2 liter water reservoirs – and exited the car.  I fished in a side pocket of my pack for a phone to call and report the abandoned vehicle. My friend beat me to it and dialed the proper authority. I began to rummage for my camera.  Must have a photo documenting the start of our trek.  “Want me to take your picture?” she asked.  Last time we hiked together I had the camera and she used her cell phone. I shook my head and continued digging through my pack. Our driver was gone.   “Well, you are going to have to do all the picture taking today,” I conceded.  “I don’t have my camera.  It must have fallen out in the car seat.”

I felt a bit confused. I distinctly remembered stuffing it in a side pocket of the pack before leaving home. Perhaps it fell out in my own car seat before I transferred baggage. My usually conscientious nature was beginning to manifest a bit of tarnish. This particular friend is always picking up on details others miss, so when she whipped out a camera nearly identical to mine a quarter mile into the hike; I thought she was sporting with me. “Did I lay it on a rock when I pulled my phone out?”  I asked myself.  Aloud I said, “Hey, your camera is just like mine!” She replied innocuously and continued to snap occasional photos.

DSCN2251scarlet gilia

Her preference is wildflowers.  I usually favor unique rock formations and light.


Pleasant weather and good conversation conspired to make the miles go fast.  Hot and perspiring, we climbed in my car at the end of the trail.  I checked all the seats.  No camera.  After delivering my friend to her front door, I proceeded home to empty my backpack and retrace my steps of the morning.  Still no camera. Such a shame if it was lost.  This one recently replaced its earlier model, same color predecessor which wore out after four years’ daily use.  It seems it is rather expensive to be going slowly crazy. What essential item would I loose next?  It was a great hike and nothing to show for it!

A few hours later I received an email which said in part, “-and thanks for the camera. Mine was still unused, deep in the other pocket. Noticed this when I went to download the photos.”

So.  I am happy to report I am not going crazy after all.  I was coming down with a capricious cough and – –  I am getting older. Happy Birthday to me. I have my camera back.