In praise of marriage

Posted in Mom Stuff
by Lorain County Moms

By Elizabeth, Chicago Moms Blog

Artist and writer Sandra Tsing Loh is getting divorced.

She wrote about it in a recent Atlantic article (http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200907/divorce/1) that cheesed me off.

My head snapped back as she breezed over her extra-marital affair and her decision not to give up her lover in favor of working at rebuilding her relationship with her husband. Loh quickly eschewed the scarlet “A” for a fatalistic analysis of marriage as a failed experiment.

With tongue in cheek and wit sharp, she gathered pseudo-psychology and anecdotes to underpin the essential thesis: “It’s not my fault.” Her other married friends are un-sexed, un-fulfilled, unhappy. Her only friend with joy is single. Ergo it was the institution of marriage that failed, not her.

Loh made her case with 4 pages of well-turned words. She’s a writer, used to taking her thoughts and airing them on the universe’s clothing line. Making her sentences resonate with echoes of Shakespeare and iambic pentameter:

To work, to parent, to housekeep, to be the ones who schedule “date night,” only to be reprimanded in the home by male kitchen bitches, and then, in the bedroom, to be ignored — it’s a bum deal.

This is the cost of free press and open Internet. That every flavor of opinion gets play. That every idea gets wings. Loh’s, mine, anyone’s.

Of course, that doesn’t make any of them right.

Loh’s decisions don’t reflect on my marriage, only her own. Her pronouncement that institutionalized monogamy is ill-fitting to the modern woman won’t send me into my neighbor’s bed looking for some variety. Regardless, it makes me angry to watch anyone rip apart anything to bootstrap their own desires.

I don’t like when my son does it, or another mother at the playground. I had no patience for it in the workplace, and I am equally disappointed in Loh using her bully pulpit to the same purpose.

Her pain is understandable. And for it, I breathe deep in sympathy. But I won’t blunt my pen.

No one held a gun to Loh’s head 20 years ago and said “Him.” Her promises were freely given, in the only context any of us have the here and now. To mock marriage not only insults those of us who consider it sacred, it makes a fool of her own choices.
My son once came to me in the middle of Target, begging for new pajama pants that looked just like his father’s. He hugged them to his chest, rhapsodizing about their softness and color. He told me how his old ones were worn, scratchy, and ugly. How the cartoon characters on them were for babies.

I bought the new pants.

When we got home, I took his old ones and put them in the Goodwill bag. My little boy realized in that moment what he’d done, and began to cry. It was heartbreaking, watching him weep on that couch in his new pajama bottoms. He hates to give away anything, even those McDonald’s toys and old toothbrushes. So the thought of someone else having his old jammies was agonizing.

“You OK?” I asked, rubbing his back.

“No,” he protested. Then he wiped his chubby cheeks and tried to be brave. “Is it too late to trade back?” He looked down at the bright red flannel on his legs.

“It is,” I sighed.

“The old jammies weren’t bad,” he sniffed. “I just wanted the new ones so much.”

It is frustrating that the talented Loh doesn’t have the clarity to be that honest — or succinct.

This is an original post from the Chicago Moms Blog (www.chicagomomsblog.com). Elizabeth left managment for a balance of freelancing and parenting in 2006. She sometimes blogs at former Corporate Mommy.

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