Reason #23 Why My Marriage is Just Like Your Marriage

October 30, 2012 by  
Filed under Same Sex Parent, Shannon Ralph

By: Shannon Ralph



Reason #23: I can’t hear you.

One of the greatest tools for success in any marriage is the ability to completely ignore your spouse when appropriate. Yes, you love her. Yes, she is the center of your universe and the rock of your family. Yes, there are times when you hang on her every word and want to spend every waking moment in her presence. That is…until she turns freakin’ ass nuts on you.

In any relationship, sometime you are the freakin’ ass nut. Other times, you are merely the innocent bystander psychologically assaulted by the freakin’ ass nut. Yesterday, I was the nut.

Before I tell you the whole sordid story, allow me to first mount a reasonable defense.

Defense Exhibit A: I was pre-menstrual. And not happy about it.

Defense Exhibit B: I have arthritis in my my right knee. I can go months and months without it ever hurting. Then it flares up out of the blue and I am completely crippled. Then I go months and months. Then I am a crippled. It is an exhaustibly vicious cycle. Yesterday, I was borderline crippled.

Defense Exhibit C: I suffer from debilitating allergic rhinitis this time of the year. Snot was oozing out of every orifice in my head.

Defense Exhibit D: I was nursing the beginnings of a yeast infection. (I realize that is probably waaaayyy more than you wanted to hear, but coming to know me on an uncomfortably and awkwardly intimate level is one of the many perks of reading my blog.)

Defense Exhibit E: I had been out of my birth control pills for a week because I was too lazy to go the Target Pharmacy to pick them up after getting off work. As a result, I was sporting a couple of nasty zits on my chin.

So….I was crampy, bloated, pseudo crippled, snotty, yeasty, and zitty. It was not one of my finest moments. And Ruanita, being the dear sweet partner she is, was completely attuned to my “issues” and was able to ignore my illogical and inexplicably angry rant.

So what happened?

I had bought Sophie this new dress with matching leggings from Naartjie. It was not a cheap dress. I got it on sale, but still. Normally, most of Sophie’s clothes come from Target. Rarely do I spend much more than a couple of bucks on any of her clothing—for good reason. She is incredibly hard on clothes. As a tomboy princess, she loves girly clothes, but quickly ruins them while chasing frogs and wrestling with her brothers in the back yard. So I try to make sure she is in possession of a fairly cheap wardrobe most of the time. But I couldn’t resist this particular dress. She looked absolutely adorable in it. Yesterday, we were going to my nephew’s birthday party, followed by the first game of the WNBA Finals to cheer on our illustrious Minnesota Lynx. Sophie wanted to wear her new dress. Of course, I had no problem with my child looking adorable for the game.

My nephew’s party didn’t last as long as we had anticipated, so we had some time to kill before the basketball game. Ruanita suggested taking the kids to the park and letting them run out some energy before subjecting them to two hours sitting at a crowded game. Normally, I would have been totally on board with the kids expelling some energy. However, yesterday I was not quite feeling like myself. I replied, “But I don’t want them to get dirty before the game.”

“Dirty? Our kids don’t get dirty at the park.”

Okay…if you have children—particularly of the klutzy variety that I have—you know that kids do get dirty at the park. Ruanita was just plain wrong. However, in the midst of my snotty, yeasty haze, I allowed her to convince me that the kids would not get dirty before the game. So we headed to the park.

Ruanita and I parked ourselves on the nearest bench (that’s why they’re called “park benches,” right?) to watch the kids play. Almost immediately—seriously, within seconds—Sophie fell in the tiny pebbles that covered the playground area. She came over to us in tears with a slightly bloody knee. And with brand new leggings covered in dirt and already worn thin in the knee.

I looked at Ruanita and declared, with more venom than I really intended, “Kids don’t get dirty at the park, huh?” She ignored me, kissed Sophie’s boo-boo and sent her on her merry way to play some more.

Within minutes, Sophie fell again. This time in the grass. To add a smear of mud and a lovely green grass stain to the knees of her new leggings. “Shit!” I yelled. “What the hell? Can she not walk?” Luckily, Sophie did not hear me, but Ruanita did. I continued to mumble about how I can’t buy anything nice for the kids. And why in the hell would we take them to the park when Sophie is in her new dress anyway? And “Kids don’t get dirty at the park, do they, Ruanita?” I was, in short, a complete and total bitch about Sophie ruining her new leggings. I knew I was being a bitch. I knew I was being totally irrational. I could always buy her another pair of matching leggings. Or Sophie could wear her adorable dress with any any of the multiple pairs of tights she has in her sock drawer at home. There was no reason whatsoever for me to get upset. There was certainly no reason for the venom that was oozing out of every pore of my body. I had inexplicably turned freakin’ ass nuts on Ruanita.

And she knew it. She knew it was the snot and the zits talking and not her beloved spouse. She knew that there was no talking me down from the ledge at that moment. She knew that no amount of reasoning would calm me. As a matter of fact, reasoning with me would certainly have had the opposite effect. She knew arguing with me would turn ugly. Try as I might to turn the tide, I was one hundred percent completely invested in my freakin’ ass nuts rant. I knew it was irrational, but I couldn’t help myself. So how is a good spouse to respond?

She totally ignored me. Completely.

She walked away. She moved to another section of the park. She took the kids with her, as to shield them from their mommy’s spewing anger. She left me on my park bench to stew. Alone. Eventually, I did calm down. The bitchy ooze leaking from every pore did eventually dry up. I was able to rejoin my family, forget about the stained leggings, and have a great time at the basketball game.

That, my friends—the ability to completely ignore your spouse when they turn freakin’ ass nuts on you—is yet another reason why my marriage is just like your marriage.


Election 2012: Equality is Not Created in a Vacuum

October 24, 2012 by  
Filed under News




Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, and Washington State will have marriage on the mind this November when voters in support of equality are being instructed to “Vote Yes on 1” in Maine; “Vote for Question 6” in Maryland; “Vote No” in Minnesota; and “Vote to Approve R74” in Washington State.

Here in Washington State, a few dozen politicians didn’t pass marriage equality. We the People passed marriage equality in Washington State. The law was signed by Gov. Chris Gregoire on February 13, 2012. Surprisingly, no straight people were harmed with the passage of marriage equality on this day — or the many that followed.

Allowing same-sex couples the freedom to marry their partners does not threaten heterosexual marriages or cause children to be born with three ears and five eyes on the tops of their heads.

I believe that fear is the root of so many anti-gay movements in this nation. Our counterparts are so concerned with their livelihoods being threatened that they don’t even notice that their daughter’s best friend in elementary school has two moms; that the firefighter that died saving their husbands’ lives left behind a partner with no means to financially survive; that their son or daughter was killed in the line of duty without ever being able to share with them their true identities; and that one teenaged kid was beaten down to shreds emotionally because he “just never fit in” …

At the end of the day, we will not remember the acronyms to the organizations that have shunned our lives and loves for generations. No, we will remember those who have stood beside us and have fought for our denied freedoms as if they were their very own. We will remember the effort, stamina, chutzpah, and resiliency it took to effectively win equality in all four states. And then, when December rolls around, we will start all over again. In the United States of America, no one is equal until all of us are equal.

The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) is betting on the probability that voters will be confused this November… and that assumption might be an accurate one to anyone not paying extremely close attention to the wording on their state’s ballot.

NOM President Brian Brown said he thought anti-gay marriage opponents would prevail across the country this election. In fact, he told SiriusXM OutQ, “I think we’re going to win all four. But say we were to lose one — but still, we lost [just] one. Will there be a huge amount of media saying the country now supports same-sex marriage? Of course there will. The mainstream media is in the pocket of the same-sex marriage advocates. Anyone who looks as an objective observer will still be able to say, if we lose one state, the record still shows that [we’ve] won, whatever, 35 out of 36.”

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), “NOM sometimes displays a sense of aggrieved victimhood, picturing itself and other religious opponents of same-sex marriage as under assault by powerful and devious forces. In an August update, NOM President Brown described a ‘jihad’ by ‘those who wield scorn and hatred as a weapon to suppress the truth and those who speak it.’ He said that gay marriage advocates want ‘second class status’ for their opponents, adding, ‘we are looking into the face of a movement which wants … to take away your rights.’”

Essentially, NOM is a bully.

We in this country have stood up against bullying — promoting Dan Savage’s It Gets Better Project and other pro-health/anti-discrimination initiatives in the past several years. So do we have anything to be concerned about, truly?

“Vote Yes on 1” in Maine; “Vote for Question 6” in Maryland; “Vote No” in Minnesota; and “Vote to Approve R74” in Washington State. Tell your friends and family members to do the same. Equality is not created in a vacuum.

Originally published by ParentMap magazine.


Kids and Politics in a Presidential Election Year

July 19, 2012 by  
Filed under Family

By: Mark Hagland

When I was growing up it was often said that there are three things one should never discuss in “mixed” company: religion, sex, and politics. Now that I’m a parent, I strongly disagree with trying to shield children from politics. In fact, I see this through the same lens I use as a person of color, with regard to the realities of race and white privilege: it is in fact important to begin explaining politics to your children (in an age-appropriate way)  in order to prepare them to move out in the world and to help them see the world as it is, with all its complexities and issues. It only makes sense to me.

This being an election year, there’s really no escaping politics, even if one wanted to. After all, the choices facing our country are enormous. And it’s a wonderful opportunity, I think, to talk about more abstract issues like values. My daughter is ten years old now, and though she isn’t yet interested in politics per se, I can already see that she has some societal consciousness—which I am absolutely trying to help cultivate and guide—and that she’s beginning to be interested in the wider world.

Of course, I want to teach her my values -of inclusiveness, compassion, and progressivism. We recently had a conversation about the homeless lady on the street to whom we gave an apple a year and a half ago. It was a cold December day in downtown Chicago, and my daughter, troubled at the sight of this tiny, vulnerable lady, asked if there was anything we could do. Fortunately, I happened to have an apple in my book bag with me, and asked her to hand it to the woman. She did, and the woman seemed very grateful. I knew as it was happening that it was a great teaching moment.

In the middle-class suburb where my daughter lives with her mother, there are no panhandlers or street people, and every time we see one in Chicago, I know it disturbs my daughter. What’s great is that she asks good questions, like why are those people asking for money? do they have homes? I explain as best I can and suggest compassion and understanding as responses.

I’ve widened the conversation to include  issues about how to deal with the reality that, on a broader level, our society has a lot of poor people, and that that is partly what this whole “politics” thing is about; it’s about how grown-ups view the world around them and what values and priorities we have for our society.

She has asked me why some people are Democrats and some are Republicans.  Both her mother and I are progressive, and I make no secret of my own politics. She once asked me, “Are all Republicans bad?” to which I replied,  “No, of course, not, Honey. They just see the world differently.” I express confidence in my political views, and explain why I hold them, but quickly add that “Good people can disagree on what they believe and why they believe it.”

My daughter and her mother live in a very, very Republican area, so while I definitely want to get my own political views across, I have to do it in a careful way in order to help her navigate the social community in which she’s living, a community very different from the Chicago she visits a few times a year.

Inevitably, race comes into the discussion, not only because we have an African-American president, but frankly, because of the racism directed at him and his family. I’ve been open in explaining to my daughter that, while some good people oppose President Obama, there are a lot of people -racists- who hate him just because he’s black. “That’s so dumb!” she exclaims (and she’s right). But I’ve tried to put all this into a historical context for her. After all, Obama was elected president in 2008, when my daughter was just six years old, so he’s been president long before she was even vaguely aware of politics.

In the end, I’ve not only found it a good experience to explain some basics to my daughter, but also to use the opportunity to talk about broader values such as compassion, inclusiveness, community, responsibility, and aspiration. I think it would be bad parenting if I weren’t explaining some of these things to her now, because in 2020, she’ll have the opportunity and responsibility to vote in a presidential election herself.