mawwiage, mad-dog, and fairness

Mr. Rogers taught me that no one knows what youre thinking and feeling unless you tell them.

Mr. Rogers taught me that "no one knows what you're thinking and feeling unless you tell them."

I write a lot about marriage equality and believe very strongly in marriage equality largely because I’m so happily married.  Though it seems some straight people see their marriages as somehow under attack from a threat of gay marriage, experiencing marriage has only more firmly convinced me how wrong it is to deny anyone a chance at this kind of happiness– spending every day with their best friend.

And today I am especially thankful for my husband and “dearest friend” (as Abigail Adams often referred to her husband John).  Yesterday I got home and was just feeling sort of mad-doggish (shout out to my English prof Dr. Robbins, who taught me this term from J.M. Barrie: “to be mad-dog is to kick out at everything, and there is some satisfaction in that” from “Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens”).  It didn’t help that I had thought Jon would be home around 7:30 and didn’t arrive until about 20 minutes later than that, meaning the dinner I had made was overcooked and soggy by the time he got in the door.

So he arrived to be greeted by a wife who was seemingly annoyed at everything he said.  WHY ARE YOU TALKING SO WEIRD? WHAT DO YOU MEAN WHAT KIND OF VEGGIE IS THIS, IT’S AN ENDIVE, GAH!  YEAH, DINNER WOULD BE TASTIER IF YOU HAD BEEN HERE 20 MINUTES AGO!  The poor guy would have been very justified to get snippy back at me, but instead, in his typically patient manner, he just asked me why I was so annoyed with him.  But the truth was, I really had no idea.  I was just irritated at the world and I had no idea why.  And if that was frustrating for HIM, it’s also super frustrating to me.  It’s totally unfair when my feelings are a mystery even to me. 

Later, when I said I was tired and thinking of going to bed, he asked me if I was feeling stressed.  It hadn’t even occurred to me, after all, I have a job that allows time for long-winded blogging, and a boss who frequently tells me how appreciated I am and how much better the department is running now that I’m here.  But when asked, I realized that I am indeed stressed.  The fiscal year ends at the end of the month, and beyond all the ordering and stuff I have to get done, I’m also in the middle of an office overhaul which has us working out of boxes and being displaced by workmen, and I am beginning to be more than a little frustrated with it all.  So I got a shoulder rub and, feeling much better having figured out what was causing my bad mood, headed off to bed while he stayed up to watch basketball.

One of my favorite sayings is a quote from Mr. Rogers (yes, of the Neighborhood): “No one knows what you are thinking or feeling unless you tell them.”  And this is something I live by– I don’t hesitate to tell Jon what I’m feeling, for the most part, or to ask him, for example, if he’s mad at me or just plain exhausted by the ordeal that is a medical residency.  And yet there are times when even I don’t really know what I’m thinking or feeling.  When I’m ready to kick out at strangers and loved ones for seemingly no reason at all.  When I just want to flop down on the floor and throw a good-old-fashioned temper tantrum, indulging my inner toddler.

And it’s at times like these that I am so thankful for my “dearest friend” who, instead of getting irritated by my moodiness, wants to understand the underlying issue and help make it better.  And I know, many times men want to “fix” things like bad moods that really can’t be “fixed,” but, maybe it’s because of his medical training, Jon usually doesn’t do that.  He manages to ask me about what is going on in such a way that I almost never feel judged.  He helps me understand MYSELF, and I guess, in that entirely cheesy way, that makes me a better person.

And so, today, I’m thinking of how lucky, how blessed I am to have such a man in my life and in my arms, and when juxtaposed with the inequality experienced by so many be they gay servicemen and women who just want to serve their country while being who they are, or gay civilians who just want to have their love affirmed in front of family and friends in a marriage ceremony, I could just cry from the unfairness.  The love I see in the eyes of gay couples as they say their wedding vows is the exact same love I see in my own eyes when I look at my wedding photos.  I get to go through life day by day, side by side with the person I love most in the world, and everyone deserves that right.

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