Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Sanctity of Marriage

While at dinner with my husband and my in-laws the other night, my father-in-law dropped a bomb on my husband. While my stepmother-in-law and I were at the buffet refilling our soup bowls, FiL blurted out to my husband that “oh, by the way, you have a half-sister. But don’t tell ‘the women’, we’ll talk later.” We then returned to the table to hear the last part of that statement and were none the wiser until my husband and I were in the car on the way home.

We’ve since learned that FiL had an affair on my husband’s late mother shortly after they were married, and a child was born. While the babymama denied that FiL was the father, he always sort of knew. He found out about three years ago and apparently decided that the time to tell his son, who had grown up as an only child, about this secret half-sister, over soup and salad at Sweet Tomatoes. She’s about 8 years older than my husband, is married, and lives in North Carolina. But the thing that FiL keeps bringing up over and over, is that she is married to a black man.

My husband quite literally could not care less about this qualifier, and yet his dad keeps referring to him as “her black husband” and that my husband has “three black nephews”. It’s especially striking to me that someone in his line of work, teaching in an ESL program, would continue to make this distinction in every reference, over and over.

The whole situation has me thinking about Prop 8 and other hate legislation for many reasons. First it’s the whole “sanctity of marriage” crap, expounded loudly by this man who created a child with a woman other than his wife while they were married. Then it’s the fact that my husband’s half-sister would never have been allowed to marry or have children with her husband had the laws been decided.

I am a happily married straight woman, and my marriage is as sacred as anyone else’s. That sanctity is not threatened when people who love each other are allowed to get married to the person of their own choice.

It’s been proposed by some that same-sex marriage is unreasonable because they cannot create life, and then I wonder what these people think about childfree marriages like mine. But then again, I know what they think. By and large they also feel like my marriage is less sacred because we are choosing not to create life for whatever reason. And yet they would never question the sanctity of a marriage where a man and a woman choose to adopt a child after a bout with infertility.

We’re going to make plans to meet my husband’s newfound sister in the nearish future, and it’s kind of exciting. It’s got us thinking a lot about family and what it means. Hopefully we’ll get along with her family because I know they’re both very excited to meet each other. I get a warm feeling when I consider her, which is really nice considering the apprehensiveness I feel with FiL and my husband’s stepfamily. I get a feeling of warmth and accepting based on early communication, and I think that acceptance and openmindedness is what family should be based upon. That acceptance should exist without qualifications like “my black grandchildren” and “my childless son.”

I'm hopeful that this might be the first member of my husband's family with whom we feel totally and completely accepted for who we are. And that's pretty cool.


Anonymous said...

There must be something in the air! My father-in-law just found out about a family of half-siblings. Turns out his father had a whole other family he was supporting. Crazy, crazy stuff!

Margaret said...

I'm completely with you on the same-sex marriage issues. I am a Canadian, and, as you know, same sex couples can marry here. It is controversial, but the right wingers just accept it. I am hoping that the USA will follow suit. Really, it isn't any different than the legislation in the past against interracial marriage. It shouldn't make a difference.

I wish you good times meeting your sister-in-law and the rest of the family.I'm sure you will get along and have a great time!

Anonymous said...

I hope that this new relationship turns out as well as it promises. It seems like you could use a real relief your current inlaws.

Is your FiL really that much of a bigot?

DJ said...

Right on! And great blog - I'm enjoying reading all your posts.