Nowadays we are surrounded by married couples in various stages of married life- the newly married, the freshly honeymooned- the our-first-ramzan-togethers, the year olds, the happily pregnants, the 2 years olds with one kid, and the 4 years old with 2 kids and the 3 plus years and no kids. Each new dynamic with it brings for me, in my current observational mode a fresh set of realizations about couple intimacy and closeness, family dynamics, about love and terrifyingly, about loyalties.
Drawing on a recurrent conversation with a friend, who thinks its “time to get married” because his mother wants grandchildren, the mom and son relationship always takes me by surprise. Trying to talk to him about his own need for a lasting relationship is hard- his primary aim in getting married is his mother’s needs. I’m scared for the girl who marries him-
To be honest, I always found that somewhat endearing- guys who watch out for their mothers; maybe because I have grown up in female dominated house I found it fascinating to notice that boys could feel as much as girls did for their mothers- but what i eventually realized is that this relationship borders on the scary. It’s almost like one word from mom and a previously independent man, fully capable of not only managing house and home and a career while wooing the lady of his choice will be reduced to a blithering idiot, useless in his ability to even form a sentence, much less have an opinion.
From the time we are young we are taught that parents come first, that we should always love and respect those people who made most of the sacrifices for us while so we could grow up safe, stable, loved. In our culture it is more than a given. It’s almost a freakish obsession.
Of course I love my parents and I would do anything for them but does that give me the right to ignore a set of priorities aimed at other indivudals who are also a part of my life? Does it always have to be a tug of war for the exact same kind of love? Why are the different kinds of love, duties, needs so hard to recognize and separate? Does a man think that standing up for someone he loves over his mother means he does not love his mother- can it not mean that that situation requires his compassion to be elsewhere? And where is it written that there is a limited amout of love that can be given out and we have to fight for it?
Talking to that same friend, who insists that his wife will be secondary to his mother because his mother brought him up and he owes her more, I want to bang his head on the wall. Or mine. “How can you possibly compare the two?” He shrugs and asks how can you not. If there are two women in his life, obviously the one that has given him more, will be the ony he should give more too. I breathe deeply. Reason with the fool, says an iner voice. “So firstly your wife comes in as a child bearing machine because your mother has grandmaternal instincts, and then she does not even enjoy a priority status in your life? Why would she marry you?”
Even in this day and age, when man has walked on the moon and achieved supreme intellectual heights, his emotional IQ remains grazing the floor as he remains largely unable to distinguish between different levels of relationships, loves, loyalties and existences. He remains oblivious to the fact that there are sides to be taken (without needing to hurt), that priorities should be given (without tagging them with a forever) and that in most cases in life, balances have to be maintained maturely, with faith and understanding and some kind of know-how of human nature, because types of love cannot be interchangeable.