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Definition of marriage, for 2-year-olds

This is a sappy little story, but relevant.

Our 2-1/2-year-old daughter was trying to figure out the different relationships in our family today. It started, I think, when she wanted to know why I didn't want to address my wife as "Mommy." So I explained, and she said, "Okay, she's my Holly and she's my mommy. And she's your Holly and she's your wife."


"And you're my daddy and my Mark."


"And you're mommy's Mark and mommy's wife."

"Uh, no, I'm her husband."

And then I decided, on this of all days, let's not start her off with George W. Bush's definition of marriage. "Forget that. I'm her partner. She's my partner, and I'm her partner."

"But she's my partner, too," my daughter replied. "You're my partner and she's my partner. And I'm your partner and her partner. We're all partners."

Who's going to argue with that? I'll have to find another angle.

Posted by Mark Schmitt on February 24, 2004 | Permalink


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All it is going to take is a principled statement
from someone like Rudolph Giuliani to the effect that Bush is peddling hogwash here. And the Republicans are still planning to come to NYC this summer?

Posted by: BobNJ | Feb 25, 2004 7:49:40 AM

Quick answer: Holly's your spouse.

Posted by: | Feb 25, 2004 10:20:54 AM

Quick answer: Holly's your spouse.

Posted by: | Feb 25, 2004 10:22:22 AM

I want to second (third?) the previous comment(s) on behalf of spouse. It sounds a little odd, but only because it is not in common use. It is specific, unlike partner, it is egalitarian, and it has all sorts of nice assocations, like "espouse" (I can't swear for the connection, as I'm not near my OED, but I would bet on it).

Posted by: Jeff L. | Feb 25, 2004 1:15:06 PM

Try King, Queen, and Princess. Everybody gets a grand title and the proper lines of authority are established.

Posted by: Max B. Sawicky | Feb 25, 2004 1:38:25 PM

Perhaps in some glorious not-too-distant future world, you'll be able to refer her to the ultimate guide on the nomenclature of familial relationships: The Constitution.


Posted by: Angry Bear | Feb 25, 2004 3:02:29 PM

Perhaps someone can answer a question that continues to puzzle me. John Kerry, John Edwards and many other Democrats go to great lengths to say that they oppose gay marriage but support civil unions. The implication of that posistion is that there are clear legal distinctions between marriage and civil unions. If so, could someone who supports this position please explain what protections, responsibilities, rights or protections you want to deny to same-sex civil union couples but preserve for opposite-sex married couples. Is this mainstream Democratic position merely some kind of semantic distinction?

Posted by: Steve H. | Feb 25, 2004 5:27:42 PM

Try having that conversation with your two-year-old when you're going through a divorce (or better yet, don't and just take my word for it). It's at least twice as confusing.

Posted by: apostropher | Feb 25, 2004 6:07:32 PM

I'm not sure I get it. Adults can be lifetime partners. The ones who are male are called husbands. The ones who are female are called wives. No reason those terms should carry any cultural baggage for a two-year-old, any more than boys are called he and girls are called she. And leaves perfectly open partnerships with two husbands or two wives. On a personal note, you may not have encountered the "I'm going to marry so-and-so when I grow up" line. My girls (twins) started this when they started preschool. But at some point one of them said she wanted to marry Laura, and the other said no, you can't do that, she's a girl. So in my soft-headed liberal (and not quite factual) way, I said anyone can marry anyone if both of them agree- boys and girls, boys and boys, girls and girls (heck, surely it will be true by the time they're marrying anyone). But I guess they took the message to heart, because the preschool teacher told us one daughter delivered the same lecture in the girls washroom when another girl objected to someone's plan to marry a female classmate when they grew up. Good luck with the two-year-old, and keep her away from Disney princess movies- now that the girls are five, we never hear about marrying girlfriends anymore. Those insidious corrupting cultural influences.

Posted by: Ben P | Feb 25, 2004 9:40:00 PM

Steve H: The distinction is that "civil unions" are not called "marriage". The fact that gay marriage is called marriage is the sticking point for a lot of people, not any of the legal rights. Does that really makes sense? No, but it's a common sentiment.

Posted by: Walt Pohl | Feb 28, 2004 6:34:14 PM

I came a-lookin for the Ziobrowski information and am charmed by what your daughter asked, and by your answers. But her final response gives me hope! Good dad! Excellent kid!

Posted by: s'Valentine | Mar 7, 2004 6:11:18 PM

The reason why gay marriage is needed, not civil unions, is strictly because of the implications of the word. If we're going to allow gays to form stable, longterm, and civilly recognized relationships we will need to use *all* of the baggage and inertia of concept that comes along with the idea of marriage to secure them. The folks that say that gay marriage threatens heterosexual marriage are only right insofar as civil unions are concerned- the bright line is dimmed- and the only way to protect marriage in this structure is to let gays have it. I always figured we wouldn't have this fight- a generation would pass and such things wouldn't seem so odd after all (after all, it only takes a generation for a radical to become conservative without changing his mind on anything...) But if we're going to have this fight, hold the line at allowing full gay marriage and accept no less.

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Posted by: .aaaa | Apr 9, 2005 9:07:25 AM

The American justice Dept. have recently approved the power of yoga and meditation vide a recent judgement in the American court."Man Who Slapped Wife Sentenced to Yoga, It's Anger Management, Says Judge." First there was house arrest. Now there's yoga. A judge ordered a man convicted of slapping his wife to take a yoga class as part of his one-year probation. "It's part of anger management," County Criminal Court at Law Judge Larry Standley said of the ancient Hindu philosophy of exercise and well-being. "For people who are into it, it really calms them down. " Standley, a former prosecutor, said the case of James Lee Cross was unique. Cross, a 53-year-old car salesman from Tomball, explained that his wife was struggling with a substance abuse problem and that he struck her on New Year's Eve during an argument about her drinking. "He was trying to get a hold of her because she has a problem," Standley said after the court hearing. "I thought this would help him realize that he only has control over himself." The sentence came as a surprise to Cross, who was told to enroll in a class and report back to Standley on his progress. "I'm not very familiar with it," Cross said of yoga. "From what I understand, it may help in a couple ways, not only as far as mentally settling, but maybe a little weight loss." Darla Magee, an instructor at Yoga Body Houston in River Oaks, said she would recommend that Cross take a basic yoga class emphasizing breathing and including a variety of postures -- forward bends, back bends and twists. "Yoga can help us to get rid of many emotional issues we might have," she said. "It's a spiritual cleanse." Prosecutor Lincoln Goodwin agreed to a sentence of probation without jail time because Cross had no significant criminal history http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/metropolitan/2365341.
Yoga which is one of the greatest Indian co tribution to the world has got vast potential in all fields. In Tihar jail India Yoga is experimented among the inamtes and found successful. Their criminal mentality is changed. This study aimed at investigating the effect of Vipassana Meditation (VM) on Quality of Life (QOL), Subjective Well-Being (SWB), and Criminal Propensity (CP) among inmates of Tihar Jail, Delhi. To this effect the following hypotheses were formulated. 1. There will be a significant positive effect of VM on the QOL of inmates of Tihar jail. 2. VM will have a positive and significant effect on SWB of inmates. 3. Criminal propensity (CP) of inmates will decrease significantly after attending the VM course. 4. There will be significant difference in SWB and CP of experimental (Vipassana) group and control (non-Vipassana) group. 5. Male and female inmates will differ significantly in SWB and CP, as a result of VM. In the famous "Time" magazine the importance meditation and yoga, an ancient Indian system, is high-lighted that the ancient mind- and spirit-enhancing art is becoming increasingly popular and gaining medical legitimacy. It is a multi billion dollar business in US. In many Universities it is accepted as subject and included in the Syllabus. In the latest famous book "Inspire! What Great Leaders Do" written by Mr.Lance Secretan recently published by John Wiley and sons, the benefit of meditation is elaborately described for good corporate governance. By practising transcendental meditation, or TM, many people have got relief from back pain, neck pain, depression. The mind calms and quiets, . What thoughts you have during meditation become clearer, more focused. Anger, anxiety and worries give way to a peace. In the world exhorbitant medical expeneses one can definitely make use of meditation. Maharshi Mahesh Yogi and Sri Ravi Sankar are poplarising this. The Iyengar Yoga institute in US is famous.
In Bhagavad Gita Lord Krishna has inspired Arjuna to rise from his depression by preaching Gita in the battlefield and to rise from the depression to do his duties. In Holy Gita we can see, being hidden by the cosmic overview of any institution beset with myriad problems, not the least of which is its lack of moral probity, there is a groundswell of educated people seeking answers to deeply personal but universally asked questions. Chie Executives taking lessons from yoga, meditation and learning how to deal with human resources equations in an enlightened manner. Individuals from every walk of life can get ideas of how to be better human beings, more balanced and less stressed out.
Medical studies continue to show regular meditation working magic in reducing blood pressure and stress-related illnesses, including heart disease. Brain images show that regular meditation helps calm the most active sensory-assaulted parts of the brain. The ancient Hindu sage Patanjali who had mastered the secrets of the human mind has written a book "Yogasutra".In this book we can see how super powers can be achieved by meditation. It has both cosmic relevance and cosmic resonance. In spite of its universal appeal, for most people total control of mind remains an elusive goal and daunting task. From time immemorial, there have been many attempts throughout the world to unlock the mysteries of the mind and to achieve total control over it through a variety of techniques. One of the most powerful of these techniques is meditation.
Many spiritual leaders, sages, saints, and holy people such asSri. Buddha, Sri Ramakrishna, Madam Sarada Devi, and Swami Vivekananda have practised this. One of the ways to control physiological reactions to psychological stimuli is meditation, Yoga, Zen Buddhism etc. The scientists take Transcendental Meditation (TM) as the uniform technique, and base their observations on the study of the subjects engaged in this form of meditation. In summing up the results the scientists have come to conclusion that the effect of meditation is a "wakeful, hypo-metabolic state". They have found that: 1) Yogis could slow both heart rate and rate of respiration, 2) Yogis could slow the rate of metabolism as confirmed by decreased oxygen consumption and carbon-di-oxide output. 3) Electro-Encephalo-Gram (EEG - recording of brain activity) in Yogis showed changes of calmness in the form of "alpha rhythm" during both eyes closed and eyes open recordings. 4) Th ir skin resistance to electric stimulation was increased (indicating increased tolerance to external stimuli). Our usual 'defence-alarm' reaction to emotional and physical stress is in the form of "fright, flight, and fight" mediated through over-secretion of certain neuro-transmitters and neuro-modulators, namely adrenaline and dopamine by way of stimulation of sympathetic nervous system. Under the influence of these chemicals and hormones, we reflexively become panicky or aggressive, our blood pressure rises. Thus stress and anxiety is the end result if we allow our natural age-old sympathetic reactions to act and to come to surface. We try to run away, become fearful, or fight the situation. But today these 'defence-alarm' reactions have no place in our lives. Rather, they should be replaced by more calm and serene reactions of equanimity and fearlessness. The need is to just 'face the brute, and it will go away'. Such desirable reactions of non-aggression and peaceful attitude are generated by Y ga and meditation. EEG Studies on Yogis and The Zen Meditations: Yogis practising Raja-Yoga claim that during the state of samadhi they are oblivious to the internal and external stimuli, and they enjoy a calm ecstasy during that state. A study was undertaken to record the electrical activity of their brain during this state by means of a regular and useful test known as electroencephalography EEG. Physiological and experimental studies have demonstrated that the basis of conscious state of brain, among other things, is due to activation of "reticular system" in the brain-stem in response to internal and external stimuli. These stimuli bring about various changes during sleeping and wakeful states of the organism and these can be studied by EEG. The study was carried out on four subjects during the state of concentration and meditation. Effects of external stimuli, like a loud gong, strong light, thermal simulation, and vibrations were studied. The results were compiled and analyzed. It was observed that two Yogis could keep their hands immersed in extremely cold water for about 50 minutes (raised pain threshold). During state of meditation, all of them showed persistent "alpha activity" in their EEG with increased amplitude wave pattern, both during 'eyes closed' and 'eyes open' recording. It was observed that these alpha activities could not be blocked by various sensory stimuli during meditation. It was also observed that those, who had well-marked "alpha activity" in their resting EEG showed greater aptitude and zeal for maintaining the practice of Yoga. Similar observations and results were obtained when EEGs were recorded in persons adept in Zen Meditative technique. Can we say that only those persons who exhibit such recording of "alpha wave rhythm" in their EEG are fit for Yoga? and be designated as right candidates for meditation and Yoga practices? (Such experiments are indeed very few and the number of yogis examined is also very small. Therefore, scientifically and statistic lly these observations have only a tentative importance. Further research is definitely called for, albeit it will have its own limitations.) It is said that in the unknown period of Lord Jesus Christ , He was under meditation.
Ref. Yoga magazines
Newyork times
Time magazine

Posted by: bhattathiri | Mar 30, 2007 8:58:28 PM