23 May 2006


Who Writes of Such Things?

Over at the American Prospect's TAPPED blog, Garance Franke-Ruta writes:
I know nothing of the Clinton's marriage, but I have watched enough families over the years to know that those couples who run up to the brink of divorce and then chose to reject it enter a territory few people ever see, and that there is much goodness to be found on the other side of that decision. Couples do recover from the unrecoverable and they can reforge bonds of love that transcend not just past difficulties, but, in a really profound way, even embodiment itself. Yes, marriage is a contract for the conduct of mundane life, but it also has the potential to be a spiritual pact, and as marriage has lost more and more of its material grounding, its psychic and spiritual functions have loomed ever larger. That's not news story material -- who writes of such things outside the Style section, or novels? -- but it's part of the larger human story we ask our politicians to be part of, and in which, ultimately, all of us can't help but be interested.
"Who writes of such things outside the Style section, or novels?" (1) People interested in the idea of gay marriage, for whom such ordinariness is denied. Not just denied, but denied with a "by the way, you homos aren't really people, and your relationships aren't as authentic as ours" aspect, even if you did manage to stay together for umpteen years in spite of each other and a homophobic world that's still not ready, to a degree that would make for downright comfort, for gay couples on a day-in, day-out basis. An aspect that would be blood curdling if it weren't so commonplace. (2) Children of couples who've been to the edge of splittingness for one reason or another, and who value that their parents stayed together, as trying as it was.

I'm in both categories.

I like the idea that the Clintons stuck it out, not in some kind of tabloid purient way, but in what I hope is a mature appreciation for the importance of making a relationship succeed. And I know that not only straight people, but plenty of gay people who are committed to each other, have found themselves at that edge of break up, pulled back, made new committments to each other, and found new joys in each other's company, in being part of a pair.

Which is not to denigrate or send to steerage those for whom that wasn't the outcome. There may be a character component to it -- and if so, that component isn't timeless, sometimes has to grow -- but there are also aspects of luck and situation that lead to the final outcome.

So let's hear it for successful "marriages," whether legally recognized or not, but especially, at least for this moment, for the ones that made it through darker days and found something better on the other side.

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