Looking Homeward

"Can't we all just get along?"

“Can’t we all just get along?”

I’ve been married to the same woman for 31 going on 32 years. Long-term relationships don’t just happen—they require constant vigilance.

For the past six months, I’ve detected relationship drift. A set of patterns were developing and I realized it was time for some honest talk. An article about marriage caught my eye. I wanted to discuss it with the one who has been my best friend for the past three decades.

Of course, honesty takes time—you can’t have a conversation while checking your Facebook page on your iPhone or Droid. We blocked some time on a Sunday night and had a heart-to-heart discussion. This was a positive first step of several we’ve made over the past few weeks.

I’m not going to render judgment on others. I will say that for whatever reason, too many people cut bait, rather than fish, when it comes to the interpersonal.

Apparently Fox News is out there scouring the U.S. for sons and fathers with differing political views, encouraging a parent to go on their network and slam their child. I can’t imagine ever doing that in relation to my son, Mark; I’m pleased that the exercise failed for Fox.

I say “failed,” because I think the host, Andrea Tantaro, was expecting the dad, Gary Lyngar, to launch on his son. Instead, he was measured, articulate, and he didn’t throw Edwin under the bus, although I think he got a few things wrong, but no biggie.

Edwin writes in his article for Salon that “In America we’ve stopped hearing each other in the streets, restaurants, churches and, in my case, in my own home, talking with my father. It is tragic, but it’s not all our fault. Fox News makes a living dividing people, offering the seductive lie of certainty to some people who just want to be reassured.”

Once again, the political class is trying to gin up interest in war in Ukraine. Sadly, our empire is spent and another foreign conflict might finish us for good.

As I shared in an email with someone I’m close to, “we’ve got 50 years of work to do on ourselves—of course, you know that’s not going to happen. It’s actually easier to blow shit up than to learn to talk to neighbors or family members.”

And so it goes.

4 thoughts on “Looking Homeward

  1. Well, I’m going to poke you with a stick on a couple of fronts.

    First, it’s not only easier to blow shit up, it’s a lot more fun, too.

    Second, it’s not fair to mention that article in The Atlantic without discussing what in it caught your eye. For me, I see the author reflecting mostly her own deeply held (and IMHO, deeply false) cliches, but the actual “lessons” of the class she presented very solidly, and anyone who’s been through marriage for any length of time and is honest about himself should be able to say “Yah, there’s something to that” to any one of those points.

    Finally, the article and the “similar” eddykashun articles linked on the right all take me right back to Gatto’s The Underground History of American Education. Nothing in any of those articles, nor in this article itself, should be new to anyone who has wrestled with Gatto’s magnum opus.

  2. LP, I probably should have linked to this blog, with it’s provocative title, “Confessions of a Supply-Side Liberal.” That’s how I got directed to the article in The Atlantic.

    What caught my eye? The idea that successful marriages have less to do with “finding the right person,” and more with “being the right person.” For much of my married life, I bought into the notion that Mary and I were “meant for one another,” as if some magical moment happened and we ended up here, 32 years down the road.

    While I believe that we have qualities that match, we are also dramatically different. Just the other night I was playing this amazing piece of music by Rhys Chatham and she said, “I hate that; it’s giving me a headache.” Wow!! I guess maybe we aren’t perfectly matched in that area.

    Yet, in other ways, we both are committed to fitness, love movies, enjoy lobster rolls, etc.

    Interestingly, as I looked up some of the recommended books and we’ve started going through them, like Gottman’s books, conflict resolution doesn’t work–yet that’s something we’ve tried to introduce throughout our married lives with little success. Fortunately, with so much bad advice down the decades, we’re still together.

    I’ve written a lot about how geography influences people. I also think our relationships and the success or failure of them deeply affects people.

    Yes, blowing shit up is fun, and it’s something that’s given precedent over doing the much harder work of learning to get along with people that aren’t always so easy to get along with.

  3. Well, I’m with Mary, a lot of what you listen gives me headaches as well. You have a lot of, um, “acquired tastes.”

    You went straight to what I saw first, though. Being the right person. Without reciting my whole saga, I find a lot of people who had horrid spouses just don’t come to grips with the fact that their own characters are the kind that attract horrid spouses. I can gripe about my ex all I want, but the only person I can change is myself; my criticisms of my ex reveal just as much about me as they do about her, to anyone that knows how to pay attention.

    And yes, the farce that is conflict resolution. Pay attention to anywhere in the world where conflict resolution is used to solve problems, like Syria, and one quickly learns that the meddling outsiders only prolong the pain and misery. Conflict resolution would never have worked in my marriage, there could only be victory or guerilla warfare. Kinda like Syria.

    Which leads us to the reality that a lot of marriage is just giving in. Submitting to the will of another (yes, there’s that awful “submission” word raises hives on so many). But the key is that someone has to choose it. By choosing it, by making it an act of the will, someone makes it his or hers, and that changes the very nature of submitting to a beloved’s wishes. That’s a very foreign idea these days among the “educated” classes these days, as the writer of that story clearly showed in her own biases.

    You know, blowing people up who aren’t so easy to get along with, that’s the American way. Team America, F*ck Yeah!

  4. I did try to read the Salon article, but had difficulty getting beyond the “outrage porn” headline. R or L, fracturing the family unit and replacing it with surrogates from the State or a corporation has been going on for a long time. So let’s not leave the burning bag of dog shit on any particular step. As we have discussed before, “The Fox Corporation” provides funding for NPR.

    As I’ve contemplated this piece today in my travels, what strikes me most is how we have been trained to believe “The Salesman” who promises that we will always be well, our marriages and friendships will always be without conflict, and if they’re not, we can just kick husbands, wives, and friends to the curb and find new ones. Dream Big! Be young forever! Anything is possible! Isn’t that what “The Salesman” tells us?

    What “The Salesman” is selling today and has been selling since 2001 is war! war! war! And those freaky light bulbs, but that’s another blog post.


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