Christmas made me think more than usual about relationships. This may have been because my sister and her ex husband came to Christmas dinner. I love my sister and in fact have no other siblings. But I absolutely, totally, do not really understand her. Maybe it is me. I think that relationships are important. And at some level, sacred. Particularly when you decide to cohabitate or to marry. Not in a fundamentalist way, but it is more than just deciding to hang out, have sex and get coffee. Sis left home at 16 and moved in with the man who would be hubby number one. They lived together for a long time and eventually married and had a daughter. He was an abusive man who had issues with alcohol and drugs. I think sis couldn't bring herself to just leave him, despite my asking her over and over to leave for her safety. So she had an affair, he went ballistic and she left in a big way, in a scary way. I laid a lot of that to her immaturity and young age. My parents split up when she was 16 and I was 19. She was very close to my father and I guess this hit her very hard. At the very least she chose for her first mate a man much much older than she with 2 children from a previous marriage. While it looks on the surface that she wanted to hold the relationship together, i don't really think she did. Because she stepped out on him and chose someone that it was just about guaranteed would tell her husband what had happened and when.
A few years go by. She meets the man who will become hubby number 2. He is everything hubby 1 wasn't. Pretty decent looking, great job, good prospects as they said in the old time movies. A bit of a stuffed shirt and I think also painfully shy, but not a bad man. They date, they marry with a big extravagent wedding and build a life together which includes 2 babies. After baby #2 she steps out on him with the man who would become hubby 3. The divorce is hurtful and her second ex has never re-married. Though we were never close i feel badly because I think her treatment of him hurt him very very deeply.
She and the man who will become hubby 3 then live together. We get lots of emails about how he is her soul mate. Eventually we meet him. He is a lot younger than she but a nice enough guy. Actually a very good conversationalist and not at all off put by the fact that we are lesbians. They build a life together but it is rocky almost from the get go. He too, has children from his first marriage. The blending is very tough and there appear to be mental health issues with his children. Neither my sister or her new husband are really involved parents and eventually things crest with his kids threatening her kids and they split up. And get back together. And split up. And come to Christmas dinner together. And I don't know where to put that!
My mother's answer is "well she takes after your father." Said father is on marriage number 3 himself. I don't even know where he lives. When he left the general vicinity that i live in, he never called to say goodbye. He moved in July years ago and notified me via Christmas card that same year in December. It would have been funny, but the fact that he travelled to see my sister and say goodbye to her and instructed her not to tell me sort of took the humor out of it for me.
I don't know why he and i can't have a relationship. We began butting heads when I was about 9 and it never really got better. I remember him picking arguments at pretty much every milestone. Making me cry at my dance recitals. Having a big blowout over putting lights on the tree. He never remembered my birthday, right down to thinking i was the wrong zodiac sign. Laughable now, but at 11 that was HUGE. Had another big fight the day I graduated. You can sort of see that my eyes are red and puffy in the photos. And then there was the year he decided to move out on my birthday. I don't know if he really didn't remember or just didn't care, but it put a damper on birthday joy for many years. I finally just decided to change the day I celebrate my birthday. When he lived nearby I tried to have a connection with him because I wanted my children to know their grandfather. But after a few visits he stopped returning phone calls, was never home etc. I'm a bit too uppity to beat on a closed door so I didn't continue to try with the same level of diligence. And then he moved.
Maybe he doesn't like the fact that I am a lesbian. Maybe he just doesn't like me. I'll never know because he can't or won't call me. I tell myself that it is his loss. My father in law is awesome and is the dad I would have wished for if you could pick one out. He calls and emails and is there on holidays. He knows my kids and loves them, even the ones he doesn't understand.
And the funny thing is, I am the one in a committed long term relationship. I met my beloved in high school, though we were not a couple until a few years later. But we began by being close friends and I think that is the very best foundation for a relationship. It grew and flourished and we began living together when we were 19. We didn't call ourselves anything but "roommates" for years. Her dad, my father in law, is retired Air Force and I couldn't picture telling him that we were a couple. It wasn't until 2004 that it was legal for us to marry in our state. By that time we had long considered ourselves married. We had exhanged rings and vows of commitment to one another privately. Because I all ready "felt" married, we only had a small civil ceremony in 2004, but it proclaimed legally what we all ready felt in our hearts. Essentially we have lived together 31 years. Her brother and sister remain unmarried, mine has had multiple unions, and neither of my parents marriages have had that level of duration.
I'm not bragging about it. It is what it is, as Kirsty would say. But I think the difference is that we both feel that level of sacredness in our relationship. It is a strong glue that binds us together in the tough times and allows us to celebrate the good ones. It gives us the determination and the perseverance to be the best parents we can be and not feel that our relationship is diminished or short changed. I am so very lucky.