This past weekend the entire family was home to rake leaves and go to the football game in Baltimore. Of course, I was the only one without a significant other.
It was interesting to watch three different levels of relationships in front of me: my parents (married for 37 years), my older sister and her husband (married for four years), and my little sister and her boyfriend (dating for one year).
Here are some observations from this crazy weekend:
Mom & Dad
It is clear that mom likes the cats and her own kids better than my dad; and she loves the grandkids and the cats better than her own kids. Where does that leave my dad? Last in the line of love.
Dad must know that he's not loved. He is taking every chance he can to get away from the din. He is so desperate to have some time alone to think, he is outside raking (the activity that I've been avoiding like the plague) whenever he gets a chance. I'm afraid I'm turning into him because I need my alone time too.
Older Sister & Her Husband
These two are always having some sort of battle. My buddy and I jump in the car with them to head to the game. I mention that the gas is low, and my brother in law says that my sister "did not allow him to get gas" earlier. Looks like he had the last laugh...
Upon arriving in the parking lot to tailgate the game, my brother in law has to use the bathroom. Luckily, we roll by a port-a-potty that has only three people in line. As my brother in law walks toward it, my sister beckons to him: concerned that we are running late to meet her friends, she says: "It's not a good idea for you to go to the bathroom here." My little sister and I beg him to stand up to her and just go to the bathroom. He throws his hands up and says: "no, no, I'll do this her way, even though the lines at the tailgate will be even longer." We arrive to the tailgate and my brother in law jumps into a 20-minute line. Looks like he was right again...
After joining the tailgate, my brother in law joins our group that now includes my other buddy who has been living with his girlfriend for a year. He tells my brother in law: "sometimes you just gotta put your foot down and say I'm not taking it anymore!" My brother in law looks at his friend who also has two kids and says: "these young guys will learn some day." I'm just happy someone out there is still calling me "young".
Little Sister & Her Boyfriend
My little sister's boyfriend is awestruck. As the weekend wears on, he looks more and more like he's been hit by a train. After the weekend concludes, he remarks to my little sister that raking was his favorite part of the weekend (she explains that he loves yard work). Sounds about right...
The morning of the football game, my brother in law mentions to my older sister to note how nice my little sister is for getting breakfast for her boyfriend. My little sister says she's just doing it because her boyfriend is afraid to go into the kitchen (new guy). My theory is that my older sister will never "serve" anyone because she's the dominant sibling. My little sister is service-oriented. She's been waiting on my older sister and I for years. We trained her well.
My niece thinks my buddy is Prince Eric from The Little Mermaid. I text his girlfriend to tell her this, and she confirms that he indeed a prince. Who knew?
What did I learn this weekend? Marriage is one big mental chess match. My brother in law put himself through suffering to prove points and leverage power. People who are married a long time need alone time. A new significant other brought into the fracas is not an admirable plight. Do I ever want to bring anyone into this fire?
Do you agree that relationships are a huge chess match, including sacrifice and leverage? How long do you wait before you finally bring the significant other into the family, do you try to do it in increments, or do you just toss them into the fire like my family "raking weekend"? Do you find that you value your alone time more and more the longer your relationship goes, or do you become more and more inseparable?