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May 21, 2022

A Letter to my Sons: Why I will Never Encourage you to Get Married.

 

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Dear Jacob and Ethan,

You guys are now 16 and 13 and have been through some big changes in your short lives. Although we are living through the COVID-19 pandemic at this very moment, I still think the biggest adjustment that you ever had to make was when Daddy and I decided not to be married anymore.

Jacob, you were so angry at me at first—you heard me ask Daddy to leave, to “just go!” A few weeks later, Daddy came over and explained that he was the one who didn’t want to be married anymore and that I was just asking for him to stop dragging it out. At that moment, your pain and anger shifted directly to your father. The wounds between the two of you are yet to be healed, but they’re maybe getting a tiny bit better each day.  I know that your anger was the biggest part of your sadness seeping out; believe me, I know that, my love.

Ethan, you were simply heartbroken because, in your mind, you had just lost the happiest family in the world.  You were only eight years old at the time and you went to bed early. You did not witness Daddy and I fighting over little things like the dirty dishes in the sink. You didn’t see me going to bed early and alone every night, just to escape my own resentments. Your days consisted of having your every need met, daytime hiking adventures with Daddy, and bedtime snuggles with Mommy.

I don’t know if you remember, but the February after Daddy left when you were nine, we were filling out Valentine’s for your classmates and you said, “Mommy, do you think you and Daddy will ever get back together?” I had to walk away and cry because I had never wanted you to have to worry about such things. All I wanted was my brave, little free-spirited boy back again.

The cracks in the foundation were mostly not visible to the two of you; your little brown eyes would not exactly have been able to see them. Daddy and I really did love each other and we were fiercely loyal, but deep inside, we knew that neither of us was living the lives we had dreamt for ourselves. In the end, Daddy did the right thing by speaking his truth and I did the right thing by having him leave.

Recently, Ethan, you asked me the question, “Mommy, should I get married someday?” I answered, “It’s not something I’m going to encourage.” You asked again, “But should I, Mommy?” And you got the same answer from me, with little explanation. I told you I would get back to you and now I am.

What I want for you and Jacob is way bigger than marriage.

I want you to selfishly follow all of your dreams. Yes…I want you to be selfish!

I do not want you to sacrifice one single wish or goal that you have for someone else. I want you to see all of the places you’ve asked me to take you, especially Alaska. I want you to explore all of the answers to all of the questions that you have been asking me since the days you began to speak your deepest thoughts—about God, the universe, and black holes.

You’ve talked about becoming a brain surgeon and an artist; you are a social justice warrior. You can be all of these things or none at all if you so choose. Your brother is a natural-born actor and director—clearly meant to make his mark in Hollywood. You are both passionate souls and I want your lights to shine brighter than any fancy wedding ever could. I want you to chase and capture your dreams; only to dream up some more.

If ever the day comes when you love someone or want to have children, it will be up to you how you wish to proceed. I will neither encourage nor discourage marriage. To be clear, I do not believe that one needs to be married to be an amazing parent and I know that you and your brother understand what being good fathers would entail.

All I ask is that you are true to yourself and that whomever you choose to spend time with in life understands how to be the same. I will remind you that love does not need to be acknowledged through the eyes of the law to be real and that that is just an idea put upon us by others.

You have always questioned what society says youshould” be doing. Keep that up—because while marriage may work for some, there are many more for whom it makes little sense.

So, to answer your question, I cannot tell you whether or not you should get married someday. What I will say is that I will not encourage it. What I will encourage is for both of you to continue to make genuine connections with people, always with the knowledge that many of them will come and go, and only a few will remain.

The most important relationship you will ever know is the one you will have with yourself. Nurture that one. Strengthen that one. Know your own deepest desires and live them out, my darlings.

Continue to be the kind, empathetic, giving boys that you are, but never at the expense of your own happiness.

Let the vows you take be to yourself! Promise to have and to behold all that you were always meant to be.

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