“Low-conflict marriage”

While reading an article about same-sex marriage in the Maryland Senate, the state which I fondly call home, I found an interesting quote from man by the name of Austin R. Nimocks, who was cited as saying that research has shown that in most cases, the best situation for a child is “a low-conflict marriage” between a man and a woman.

This piqued my interest. A low-conflict marriage, between a man and a woman. That’s what’s supposed to be ideal for a child’s raising, so let’s see what that means.

Let me share my experiences with marriage, as in my life I have three separate experiences, each telling their own tale about the way I was raised.

1) The ‘high-conflict marriage.’

The first marriage that I was introduced to, or rather introduced me to the world, was that between my mother and father. I was too young to remember much about when they divorced, but to me it seemed civil and the relationship between my parents was fine. However, tales from my siblings and both parents tell me that the marriage was not ‘fine.’ My mom and dad fought like cats and dogs, and even more so in a passive-aggressive manner after the divorce. They are two very strong willed people with large opinions, especially when it comes to the other person.

My mom raised us to embrace who we were, whether that be our sexuality or our experimental vocabularies, we were free to seek what we found to be most comfortable for us. My dad, however, ran a tighter ship. We had bedtimes and our homework was to be done, however this was mostly supervised by one nanny or another as my dad worked long hours. These two personalities in the same household, raising the same children, generally spelled disaster. Hence the divorce.

2) The ‘low-conflict marriage,’ first edition.

My dad remarried after his divorce from my mom and introduced the first low-conflict marriage of my life. Emily was far better suited to my dad, and I will be the first to say that. They are both very Type A, but extremely family oriented. They have similar beliefs about raising children, the censorship that a parent should exercise over their children, and have levels of patience which balance their partner’s. If my dad got upset at us and wanted to yell, Emily was right there with a soothing word for both parties, acting as a sort of Switzerland for the warring countries of Dadland and Kidtopia.

This was my first ‘low-conflict marriage’ and I agree that I have benefited from being raised by it. However, this marriage has had to work against the damage of divorce that has left me scarred. Who knows if any amount of truly good parenting or copacetic relations between one set of parents can undo the fights made by the previous pair? Certainly not me.

One thing is for certain, though. I definitely had fun at the wedding. I mean, look at me and my sister, proudly dancing with glittered batons of joy at this new ‘low-conflict marriage:’

3) The ‘low-conflict marriage,’ second edition.

Some may not count my second experience in this realm as a marriage, but I do. My mom has been with her partner Mary since my dad and Emily got married. That’s longer than a lot of marriages ever last, so I feel quite comfortable calling Mary my stepmom, regardless of if a piece of paper says she is or isn’t. This marriage works very similarly to my dad’s. My mom and mary have personalities which both compliment and balance each other. If my mom’s short amount of patience ran out, Mary was there to calm the situation. If, as it often happens, I could not see the wisdom in my mom’s advice (as I was a teenager and therefore knew everything), then Mary was there to show me the logic of the situation. In general, there was little conflict that came from the marriage itself, and what did came from my not being the most cooperative chid. The love of this marriage, which I believe is what constitutes such a title for their relationship, is easy to see:

And if you still doubt this marriage, look at these pictures of me and Mary when we reunited after one of the many long breaks that comes with a child going to college 8.5 hours away from home. That protective look in her eyes and the love between us couldn’t define her more as one of my parents.

So, after this review of conflict in marriages that I’ve experienced in my life, what is the best situation for raising children?

Is it the marriage between a man and a woman?
Is it the union of two people, no matter their genders, who love each other and whose personalities work well together?
Or is it something else, maybe a single mother or father, etc.?

Personally, I believe that my mother and father’s divorce was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. Their marriage was not suited to their happiness, and even less to the happiness of their children. So too I believe that both of my parents re-marrying women was the best result for me, as it worked out that I have four happy parents who care about and love me with all of their hearts.

I admit that I have a unique situation, even when it comes to gay families. I have been blessed with two sets of parents, one heterosexual and the other homosexual. My opinion is therefore somehow tarnished by the fact that I indeed was not raised in a purely gay family. I was raised by both, and therefore cannot support or choose either.

But I do. I support families that love each other and work well together, through the best and worst of times. So I support gay couples and I support heterosexual couples. I support a ‘low-conflict marriage,’ but I do not define that as strictly between a man and a woman.

If you believe in marriage equality like I do, you can help make this idea a reality in the Maryland Senate and learn more by visiting this facebook page.


About mshifrin

Fresh Bachelors in my hand, the world's an open book. Time to explore!
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