The amazing story of two 40-something women on the path to matrimonial bliss

It just keeps getting better...

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Couple Culture, Family Culture

While I am of the opinion that all families are created equally, there are still many different ways to do family.  When Teri and I came together as a couple nearly four years ago, all we knew was that we wanted to figure out how to blend, create and commit to a new version of us as a couple and an evolving concept of family.  We talked about it, we argued and cried and strategized about it; some things evolved organically, but there was a fair amount of intention as well.  While people and families are always changing, we are also finally starting to feel a solid connection and steady acceptance of this is who we are.We have definitely realized some things about ourselves along the way!
When we moved in to a home together, I was still grieving the end of an era as all of my bio kids (or "baby heads" as I choose to call them) had pecariously launched themselves.  Teri was pretty sure that while grown kids were fine, she was done with the whole parenting thing.  I wasn't sure what the next chapter of my life would look like, but I knew there was still plenty of undefined mom-ing to do. Teri had learned that middle-age single socializing and the neo-adolescent drama that went along with were not for her and we both knew we had lots of energy, passion and playfulness left in us--even if we are both responsible grown-ups. So we embarked on an ordinary quest to figure it out.
Here's what we've learned about our couple culture:
  1. We are clean, tidy, and organized--in an easy, comfy sort-of way (our house just never really gets messy and we both tend to clean when we get cranky)
  2. We like a bit of earthy family chaos: kids, cats, chickens, neighbors, etc.
  3. We feed people.
  4. We are determined to work on our baggage--unpack the "isms;" challenge unproductive behaviors; and be as authentic, open and present as possible.
  5. We grow things.
  6. Community matters--so much that we want and need to be involved, volunteer and work for change and livability. We like knowing and helping out our neighbors.
  7. Our kids will always be a priority and they have direct access at any time--we work to encourage, support and pay attention without enabling, invading or judging.  Now, we will always be learning as we go so we still make mistakes!
  8. We are out and accept that informs our politics, spirituality, and presence in the world.  It is not all of who we are, but it is part of the work we get to do in this lifetime.
  9. We value diversity, differences and the vibrancy that comes with living in a diverse neighborhood, working with all different sorts and embracing the messiness of the human experience--and we have bigot-radar.
  10. We love holidays.
  11. We are both competent and fearless fundraisers.
  12. We don't really like the same movies or the same books--usually.
  13. We have low threshold for self-absorbed, inconsiderate or immature "grown-ups."
  14. We are surprisingly compatible in the parenting realm.
  15. We can both keep secrets.
  16. When in doubt, stressed or overwhelmed--make it funny and add chocolate or cheese puffs, followed by a big dose of forgive and forget.
  17. Camping rocks.
  18. Adult kids will spill their guts IF you feed them bacon or home-made mac & cheese (and always keep ice cream in the freezer.)
  19. We give each other veto-power over our respective schedules/calendars.
  20. and, finally, there is always room for more.
We are still growing, changing and building what will likely be the work of the remainder of our lives--our relationship with each other and our connection to family, friends and community.  As we negotiate letting go, hanging on, and making room, we find ourselves solidly grateful for finding each other.  As we tell the kids when they bark at us that we better not "ever get divorced:" we just fit and, besides, no one else would have either one of us!

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