Saturday, November 06, 2010

My father is observing the same things in my sister's situation but he's looking at them in a very different way.

I look at MABIL's actions and see the desperation of a man fighting to keep what he's already lost; I see him flailing, desperately trying to hold onto the illusion of his masculine control and patriarchal authority.

My father, on the other hand, buys into the fear MABIL tries to drum up. He believes a man's moral anger will naturally supercede a woman's legal defense. I think that's interesting.

It's as if the world these men imagine is more real than the world actually in front of them. In the real world, California statute and practice limits what MABIL can do; but does he realize that? No. He thinks that the weight of his moral outrage and disapproval will be all it takes to punish my sister and keep his family the way he wants it. My father believes, to some extent, the same thing - that the wrong done to MABIL will necessarily require some sacrifice from my sister.

But that's not the way the world works.  In the real world, marriages fall apart and people walk away from one another all the time. No one is punished; no one is sacrificed. They pick up, go to therapy and move on. Or maybe they pick up a hobby, learn how to be civil, and then they move on.

In the real world, bad actors get away with their bad acts all the time.

There's even a real possibility that MABIL will get away with his bad acts, performed in retaliation for my sister's, whose own acts were created by the sinkhole of her own marriage and the immediate death of intimacy between them. So in this daisy chain of bad acts, intentional and otherwise, who deserves punishment?

Oh, what do I know about marriage and bad acts? M- won't introduce me to his family until my last remaining ambivalence about our relationship evaporates.

And, yet the very tiny pull and tug going on between me and M- (and my acknowledgment that he has a right to set his own limits and boundaries, even if it creates some pressure for me) seems more honest and realistic than creating an ideal world where everyone is set up for failure.


Songbird said...

Seriously, the whole no-fault thing is great except when it's awful. I've had two husbands treat me like crap, in very different ways, and I'm grateful that in the end it's so easy to be divided from them legally, but I'm also angry that there is no punishment for their bad acts.
(Also, I'm laying off men, because I am clearly not a good judge of their potential.)

Songbird said...

Also, as much as I've been a fan of your relationship, is it possible that you *can* lose your ambivalence without knowing his family? As you point out, your ABIL is behaving like his own father. Family dynamics tell us things we need to know. My current husband's mother was dead when we met, but I wish I had asked a lot more questions about her, in retrospect.

Delia Christina said...

@songbird - you're right. parental dynamics are going to be important. but i don't think i will have any of my ambivalences completely disappear.

just this morning i was brushing my teeth thinking about how i like doing my banking online and OMG, What If M- Doesn't Bank Online and OMG, How Will I Do My Banking if I Don't Live In the Same Neighborhood I Live In Now????

this is the kind of stuff i worry about and will never go away.

Delia Christina said...

@Songbird - re: punishment for bad acts: at times, i think no matter what we do, we all get punished.

Anonymous said...

I like M he has to have a boundary and I like it! You on the otherhand need to relax and enjoy the ride you on, you are so analytical, I like that, too. Your father has point, this may cost your sister something. You don't get a self-discovery card to get out of "marriage", for finding out you like the other sex. I know the laws are different now for women. does she want to see him hurt, Didn't she know this would cause what it has? Marriage takes work and time, everybody growing and learning and nobody is a 100% happy all of the time.People may walk out, but the damage is done. How long was your sister marry? Kids are involve? Come on,D'. Those kids will be hurt for years. Your sister decision to marry knowing there were doubts will cost her something. Her spouse, he is already paying, eventually he will go on, I hope.

Delia Christina said...

exactly - the hurt and pain everyone is feeling is punishment enough, i think. so what further pain needs to be inflicted? why stretch it out so that the break is irrevocable and a mother is separated from her children?

that's too high a price for realizing she wasn't the same person she was when she married.

and me?? relax?? never.

Liza said...

Damn. Again, I'm so glad you can be there for your sister, for both of you.
Also: I love that your acronym for him is so unmanly.