What the right knew was that what most of the left was talking about providing for the homosexual community was not actually marriage, but a watered down, fantasized version of marriage. Most conservatives like me never believed a gay person shouldn’t be able to enter into a contractual relationship based on romance with another human being. That’s ridiculous and pointless. Pretending gay people don’t want commitments doesn’t make it not real.
What we did have a problem with was the idea that “marriage” as a term was being redefined apart from its actual roots and the definition that is enjoyed and exalted by every culture on this earth.
While the pearl-clutchers at places like HuffPo and Jezebel fret about the “horror” of a man choosing not to spend time alone with another woman out of respect for his wife and her feelings, those of us who have actually been married for a while know exactly what he meant.
Whether or not you would do the same in your own marriage is beside the point. Pence wasn’t scolding anyone for not acting as he did. He was simply explaining that in a strong marriage one doesn’t open the door for temptation or even whispering among one’s community (this is especially important for a politician, don’t you think?).
We live in a country where people celebrate the idea of a woman being required to cover her head and neck lest a man be tempted by her, but Pence gets excoriated like Anthony Weiner at a Twitter headquarters party for even suggesting that showing deference to one’s wife even when there is no need is the duty of a husband. You’d think the feminists would be all over this one. Pence clearly puts his wife first.
Marriage is a complicated and nuanced institution. It is a partnership that requires stamina and sacrifice. It is not a piece of paper, or even simply a man-made concept. It is a game changer that transforms who you are as a person and how you view your responsibilities to others.
Those who don’t take marriage seriously – in this case that’s anyone outraged by Pence’s statements about his own marriage – are outraged because they don’t understand that marriage is more than a feeling. They think people who really love each other will never hurt each other, and always make the right choice. That’s so ignorant of literally every second of human nature and so obviously naive it boggles the mind.
Those of us who have been married a while know that a good marriage doesn’t happen by accident. You don’t “fall” into one like you fall in love. Falling in love is the easy part. Being love (the noun) takes effort. Married couples understand that the effort to grow and nourish a marriage means doing things unmarried people might judge as weird or unnecessary.
Having dinner alone with a person of the opposite sex might seem like a little thing, and it is. But over decades of marriage it is the accumulation of little things that will erode even the most solid of foundations.
Some marriage rookies might be surprised to find out the strongest couples become very deliberate about scheduling date nights, scheduling times to talk privately, even scheduling sex sometimes. Doesn’t sound very romantic, does it? It isn’t. But it is necessary because time erodes passion. If you do nothing to counteract that erosion you are simply resigning to your ultimate failure.
It might not seem like scheduling 10 minutes a week to discuss whatever with your spouse is that serious and it isn’t. That is the point. It isn’t until it is. Wise couples understand it is those little, unserious things will end up drilling a hole right through your defensive walls. When you drop the little things you’re only giving them time to grow into big things.
Pence and his wife are partners and as such are the only ones with intimate knowledge of their feelings, personalities, and needs. Pence also happens to be in politics, which isn’t exactly well known for its upstanding, moral participants. The Pences understand their specific challenges and have structured their marriage accordingly in a constant preemptive strike against any temptation or mistrust.
This is not old-fashioned or oppressive or weird…it is wise. It is exactly what a lasting marriage takes. If you don’t understand this… if you think a president getting blow jobs in the Oval Office from a woman who isn’t his wife and barely old enough to qualify as a woman is “no one’s business” but the Pence comments about respect for his marriage are outrageous….if this is your mindset then you are not qualified to speak about or enjoy this difficult but rewarding institution.
Clearly too many people in this country do not deserve to be involved in the defining of marriage rights and responsibilities.