Just when I thought Dr. Laura wasn’t going to say anything terrible this week, she came through for me. Attagirl, Dr. Laura.
Dr. Laura’s remarks are embedded in brackets within the question, and her answer is below it.
The question: I come from a family that believes very strongly in family. My dad is one of 5 and my mom has one sister. All in all, I have many aunts and uncles, all of whom are still happily together with their first spouse. [I’m going to put you all in the Smithsonian.] I have an older brother who has been in a relationship with a lady for at least 5 years. They have a child and I have to say they are great parents.
The only problem I have is that I got married in 2008 to the most amazing person I have ever known and since then, my brother calls his girlfriend “My wife” and his girlfriend refers to him as “My husband.” Every time they say this it makes my whole body want to explode. I feel like they are belittling the covenant that I made to my husband. [And you’re absolutely right about that.]
Am I crazy? [Um, that’s not an indication of insanity.] How can I nicely say that it bothers me without upsetting them and cutting all ties?
Dr. Laura’s response: [Laughs] I have the answer! Each and every time they say that, that you go, “Oh my gosh! Did you get married last weekend and I wasn’t invited?! I have to get you a present!”
My response: …
Your covenant that you made to your husband is so sacred, so strong, so I-come-from-a-long-line-of-smug that the fact that your brother refers to the mother of his child as his “wife” threatens it?
I have a child. My friend calls her dog “my baby.” Sometimes she does it in front of me, and in front of my child. And you know what? I love my daughter the same amount as I do when my friend isn’t around.
I have a job. My mom sometimes calls and says that she has been “working” in the garden. Working? Is somebody paying her for it? Did she have to go through three rounds of intense interviews before she could get that job? What about a Ph.D.? Surely she needed some credentials? OH WAIT NO SHE DIDN’T. And it doesn’t make a smidge of difference in my career or how I feel about it.
There are Christians out there who have very strong feelings about God and the right way to worship. The fact that there are Sikhs doing it a different way and yet still considering themselves religious could be seen as a threat to Christianity. You see where I’m going with this, right?
You get to define your own family, your career path, your religion. This misguided belief that how other people live their lives ruins yours simply by existing has long been used as justification for limiting civil rights and much, much worse. You have an inordinate amount of pride in a history in which you took no part, and an inordinate amount of fear about parts of the present which have no effect on you. You stand a better chance of continuing your all-important tradition of a very narrow view of family if you stop pointing out how others are doing it wrong, and concentrate instead on how best to live your life by the standards you have chosen.