Category Archives: Marriage

Say It Isn’t So

October 29, 2007

Jane Jimenez

Jane Jimenez

As members of the human race, we look to our capacity for language to elevate our communication skills above all other members of the animal kingdom.  Civilizations are separated by archaeologists based on their languages and their ability to create sophisticated writing systems for recording the spoken word.

Creating words to say what we mean has inspired the thesaurus, where subtle connotations can dictate the use of one particular synonym to mean exactly what one wants to say.  Every fifth grade teacher has struggled to expand the vocabulary of budding writers.  How many times does a student use “pretty” in her story when “gorgeous, comely, lovely, ravishing, sightly or elegant” would paint a better picture?

Costume designers and actors can create ten different people who are “rude” based on the author’s choice of words.  He may be rude…but is he audacious, bold, brazen, cheeky, forward, impertinent, insolent, disdainful, nervy or sassy?

The sophistication of our language points to the premium we place on communication.  Whenever a relationship is deteriorating, the first place we look to is the couple’s ability to effectively communicate.  Almost seven million…six million nine hundred and fifty thousand, to be exact…links are reported by Google search engines looking for “improving communication in relationships.”

With so much emphasis on improving communication, it defies human intelligence to understand the logic behind the decision of the California legislature to retract language back to caveman status.  This month Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed SB 777 into law.  When it takes effect it will prohibit any instruction or school-sponsored activity that would promote discrimination against gender. That means terms like “mom and dad” and “husband and wife” cannot be used in California textbooks because they suggest that heterosexuality is the norm.

“Suggest”…to hint, to imply…that heterosexuality is the norm…this is a bad thing?  If we are not to consider the particularity of our sex, then why does every form we fill out have two boxes for us to check…male…female.  One imagines “neutral” forms of the future where we instead will check either…human…or…other.

This restriction of communication comes at a particularly interesting time in human civilization.  More and more boxes have been added to the forms we fill out, an attempt to fully communicate whether we are Caucasian, Hispanic, African-American, Pacific Islander, American Indian, Eskimo, Asian…or for lack of specific descriptors for our origins…Other.

This attention to diversity is required even for second graders and is a headache for every teacher who must help thirty seven-year-olds to properly record their ethnicity in less than an hour.  Librarians are guided by diversity to ensure that their choice of books includes stories for every ethnicity and representing cultures worldwide.

Now, suddenly and legally, under the terms of SB 777, diversity has become a bad thing.  No longer can children be exposed to women and men who are moms and dads inside of marriages where they committed to one another as husbands and wives.  And why?

Because this form of diversity is offensive to people who have chosen not to express their heterosexuality in traditional ways…people who describe themselves as homosexual, gay, lesbian and transgendered.  Depending on your choice of words, this conundrum is either puzzling, confusing, challenging, mysterious or problematic.

Even as we keep giving people more and more ways to describe themselves, we are taking away the ability of children to describe their moms and dads.  We are asking children to ignore the fact that their moms and dads are husbands and wives.

Do we think that by legislating language that children will fail to pick up on the heterosexual realities of the world they live in?  Do we think that requiring children to describe the adults in their homes as parent, parent or parent, will keep them from noticing their parents are of different sexes and wear wedding rings?

What has happened to the premium we place on honoring diversity?  Honoring different ways of living?  Honoring cultural values…even if they are the values of the very culture we live in?

With so many words to say what we mean, to describe the variety of life around us, what in the world has led us to make laws removing words from the dictionary for the very purpose of not saying what we know is true?  Dear Governor Arnold, if you can find the proper words…say it isn’t so.

Golf and Marriage

September 10, 2007

Jane Jimenez

Jane Jimenez

In the 60s, without instant reply, TiVo and DVDs, my Dad had to closely follow the newspaper schedule and spend his day in front of our 12-inch black-and-white television through 18 holes in order to witness the dramatic finish of the 1962 U. S. Open when Jack Nicklaus won his first professional title in a playoff with Arnold Palmer.  What a waste of a good day, I thought.

I never understood the lure of golf.  People walking over short grass, swinging sticks at little balls…walking and swinging, over and over, for years.  Even Tiger Woods could not rally my interest in the game.

This was before I learned that grass is never just grass.  Like snow for Eskimos, it comes in thousands of degrees of variation, its length, humidity, and density confounding the roll of well-hit balls.  After one day of instruction about the complexities of golf, enthusiastically taught by our son-in-law as we watched the Wachovia Championship, I’m hooked.

With my new understanding, a lifetime seems too short to learn how to perfect every aspect of what can go wrong with one’s golf game…the stance, the swing, the grip of the club, the follow-through of the swing…not to mention the mental strength needed to handle the pressure when your shot hits the trees, the sand, the water, the rough…and the periodic spectator.

As we watched Woods struggle through the U.S. Open, I saw the endless challenges posed by the lie of the green…the impact of grass mown tight to the ground and covered with morning dew on a downhill slope just beyond the aimed for hole.

Tiger struggled.  I wanted him to win.  But he failed to catch Angel Cabrera and came in a frustrating second.  Better, though, than his subsequent games at Bethesda and the British open where he finished 6th and 12th.

Woods is good enough to win any golf game he plays.  But not every golf game.  He is good.  But he’s not perfect.

Golf…and marriage.  In the first instance, a golf game gone sour provides motivation for the player to isolate his problem and work to remedy it.  There are golf clinics, DVDs, books, pros, and practice ranges all dedicated to making your game the best it can be.

In the second instance, a marriage gone sour can be turned around by a couple motivated to isolate their problems and work toward a solution.  Yet, how often, in our modern world, is a no-fault divorce offered as a solution to couples who struggle? Instead of fixing a marriage, we dissolve the marriage…we quit the game.

Thankfully, an emerging movement is coming forward to turn the divorce trend in favor of repairing relationships and restoring healthy marriages.  In 1999, Oklahoma launched the Marriage Initiative to reduce the divorce rate in their state.  This Oklahoma initiative is joined by the federal Healthy Marriage Initiative which funds programs around the country to strengthen and save marriages.

Critics of marriage education would have us believe that bad marriages are a lost cause.  They raise the specter of abuse, suggesting that fixing a troubled marriage results in more battered wives.  They ignore important realities.

Relationships have much in common with golf games.  No two are the same…and in one marriage, no two days are the same.  No marriage is perfect.  But on a good day, in a good game, there is nothing that can beat winning at golf and succeeding in marriage.

Marriages, like golf games, can improve.  Researcher Linda J. Waite interviewed couples and asked them to rate their marriages from one to seven, on a scale from “just awful” to “fabulous.”  Five years after her first survey, she returned to the same couples with the same question.  Of the couples who first rated their marriage as “awful,” eighty-seven percent of the same couples said their marriages were either “pretty good” or “very good,” sixes and sevens on her scale.

Waite summarized her findings, “Most of the marriages that were bad became much better. I think in a lot of cases when marriages are unhappy it’s sort of a bad patch, and it doesn’t last. One reason divorce is relatively high in our society is because now either person can leave, and we are more willing to leave than we used to be if we hit a bad patch. We’re less likely to work it through. But there’s evidence that dramatic turnarounds are commonplace. They’re the typical experience.”

In the words of marriage Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott, “Love, by itself, is not enough to sustain even the most loving couple — at least the kind of love Hollywood pumps into our culture is not enough. Marriage requires new skills in communication, conflict resolution and so on. Love cannot protect a marriage from harm. But love combined with effective skills can overcome all.”

There is a lot to commend people who dedicate their lives to being the best they can be. Winners may have talent.  They may have benefited from great coaches and good weather.  But in the end, they win because they put their whole attention to the details of the game that make winning even possible.

Golf…and marriage.  Winning at the game is only possible if we have the proper goal…more than winning…persisting in the challenge…making our game the best that it can be.

If Truth Be Known

September 3, 2007

Jane Jimenez

Jane Jimenez

The 60s sexual revolution was in full bloom as I headed to college in 1969.  Founded on a new definition of happiness…the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow…the revolution spawned a new vocabulary.

Words birthed in the sexual revolution…liberation, freedom, self-expression, empowerment…all of these defined the supposed rewards of releasing strictures and limits of a more “primitive world” imposed on human behavior.  We demanded a better happiness.  Anything goes.  If it feels good, do it.  No limits.  No fear.

A new kind of happiness at the end of the rainbow thus demanded a new road to happiness.  Planning families gave way to preventing families.  Babies were prevented by pills instead of self-control, and when both self-control and pills failed, babies were redefined as tissues and cells to be removed or eliminated.

Social institutions and cultural pace-setters became vested in affirming this new road to happiness.  Professors wrote new textbooks based on an untested social hypothesis, and they began indoctrinating a generation to believe that science would eventually document the success of re-engineering creation.

Capitalizing on the profits to be made in promoting the proposition that unrestrained human behavior leads to self-fulfillment, marketing campaigns put the mantra to snappy jingles, do it my way for the me generation.

Man as the creator…recreating ourselves in the image of the happiness we thought we most wanted.  We have finally succeeded in elevating our selfish interests to the pinnacle of noble achievement.

Now all that remains to complete this brave new world is removing the vestiges of antiquated notions of family from our laws and social government.  California is prepared to lead the way.  In legal briefs filed with the California Supreme Court by the California Governor and Attorney General, marriage between a man and a woman has been reduced to an inconsequential notion without any social merit to motivate governmental support.

This is an odd time to dismantle marriage as mankind has known it…just at the time when social research has given expression to the powerfully positive effects of raising children in a stable marriage between mother and father.  Even as we have insisted for forty years on our rights to construct a new happiness, research leads back to the world we are running from.

Social research clearly shows the benefits of traditional family structure on building self-esteem for children, leading to their success in school and reducing the negatives for them of crime, drugs, alcohol and risky behaviors.  Children in modern research studies are giving powerful witness to the pain and harm of divorce.  Listening to them…what is the impact on our children of recreating the world for ourselves?  We have “won” at their expense.

The breakup of families is no easy path to a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.  Neither is the destruction of life required by campaigns to prevent families.  Courageous voices of women who bought into the sexual revolution are being heard, a testimony to the failure of pills and medical procedures to produce the promised happiness.

Families, marriage and children…these were not accidents of an antiquated creation we could dispose of without consequence.  They were the products of truth, the truth of human existence created long before we were the twinkle in our parents’ eyes.

Truth exists for us to know.  We must learn truth, not create it.  Truth doesn’t come and go, changing hither and thither, based on our own whims.  Truth was created in the beginning…without our input.  It forms the foundation for our human nature and happiness.

Lust and covetousness were more than sins.  They defined boundaries set on human willfulness and rebellion, limiting our selfishness in wanting more of the world than we were entitled to.

If truth be known, happiness was always there for us to have.  We just ignored the road signs and charted our own path away from the end of the rainbow.

Big Fathers

June 25, 2007

Jane Jimenez

Jane Jimenez

He is an engaging boy, close to ten years of age.  A ball cap turned back on his head, he looks straight into the camera.  The poster on the wall brags on the young man.  He could be the child of any proud father or mother:

James is well on his way to become a statistic.  One we can be proud of.


  • 70% less likely to use drugs,
  • 27% less likely to start drinking,
  • 52% less likely to skip class,
  • 64% achieve higher grades,
  • Celebrating 100 years, Big Brothers, Big Sisters, Donate – Volunteer.

One hundred years of matching children with Big Brothers and Big Sisters, a lot has changed since the day they made the first match.  Fifty years ago, when Little Rickie ruled the house on television, and when I jumped rope with kids on the street, I knew few children growing up in single parent homes.  In most cases, they were children impacted by death of a parent or, in rare cases, children of divorce.

Today, children raised by single parents are the norm.  And for every child without a dad, Big Brothers, Big Sisters works hard recruiting men to fill in the gap.

This is a Herculean task, recruiting enough Big Brothers and Big Sisters to take care of the needing children in America.  It sets my mind on fire with questions.

Where are the men who have fathered these children?  And if they didn’t stay around to be a Big Father, can we expect them to be a Big Brother?

And for the fathers who have stepped up to the plate to be the fathers they should be, how many more children can they adopt under their wings before they are unable to fly for the weight of the burdens we have placed on them?

The biggest question of all?

Educators around the country are working to instill in young people the notion that the sex that produces children should be saved for the time in their lives when they will be able and willing to marry.  Children born into families built on the healthy marriages of Big Fathers and Big Mothers is the most secure way of providing what Big Brothers and Big Sisters are attempting to give.

In one case, Big Brothers, Big Sisters is applauded for their generosity and their efforts to help young boys and girls succeed.  They boldly place posters and billboards and recruit donations and volunteers.

In the other case, promoting the benefits of marriage which, if successful, results in Big Fathers and Big Mothers, draws down the wrath of people who denounce this effort to “force your values on me.”  Why?

Why are we afraid to recruit Big Fathers through education programs that connect sex, marriage and families as a positive goal?  And why do we reject this education at the same time that we laud Big Brothers for recruiting men to fill the void created by the breakdown in social norms for marriage?

Consider the benefits for James of living with his married parents:

  • less likely to use drugs,
  • less likely to start drinking,
  • less likely to skip class, and
  • will achieve higher grades.

Celebrate this…thousands of years, families founded on fathers married to mothers.  Volunteer your support.  James needs you.  All children need you.

Big Brothers, Big Sisters.  Yes.  Better still…

Big Fathers, Big Mothers.  Yes!

A Forest of One Tree

October 23, 2006

No issue this year looms larger than marriage and the fight to define what marriage will be for the next generation.

All sorts of arguments fly through the air.  What is fair?  Who is going to get or lose health insurance?  Who won’t be able to get married?  Who will?  Why should government care who gets married?

There are lots of questions and lots of arguments.  But there is really only one agenda pushing them all.  This is about certifying same-sex marriage as an equivalent to traditional marriage.

Will I get to wear a wedding ring?  Will I get health insurance?  Will my relationship be validated as special by the government?  Why does it matter who or what I am when I get married?

There are lots of questions and lots of arguments.  But they are only branches of the same tree.  Marriage…what’s in this for me?

My, myself and I…will I be allowed to get all the “stuff” that belongs to marriage?

But wait.  Since when did marriage focus on “getting”?  This is a modern invention.

Since when did marriage focus on “me, myself, and I?”  This is a modern concoction.

If this is only about me, and if it’s only about what I get out of it, then I am the only tree in the forest.

This is an odd way to think about a relationship that only survives out of a desire to be a sacrificial servant to another person.  Foundationally, marriage is about giving up my right to be the only tree in the forest.

When we marry, with our attention focused outwards, looking at the other trees in the forest, it is our interest in the future of the forest that lets us see the seedlings just pushing up out of the soil and beginning to grow.  If this is about me, myself, and I…then seedlings don’t matter.

If this is about me, myself, and I, then…when I am gone, the forest will be gone.  But that won’t matter.  Who needs seedlings?  I won’t be around to see it.  And because the forest was only about me anyway, that will be just fine.

At the heart of the heated arguments about marriage, we need to step back from the trees and see the forest.  Are we building a society of individual trees?  Or are we building a society that nurtures seedlings?

Marriage, when properly focused, is about a larger society that flourishes because it nurtures the smaller family society that is raising the next generation.  It is not an arbitrary definition contrived to allow me to qualify for wedding rings and insurance.

Marriage is focused on the sacrificial relationship between a man and a woman for a logical reason.  This is the relationship out of which children are born and raised.  If children don’t flourish under the care of their parents, they will lose… we will all lose.

Government defines marriage and sets it aside as a unique relationship because of its significance for our children…for our future.  Marriage is not a random definition created by legislators.  It is a relationship of importance, a relationship that matters for the sake of the preservation of the forest.

If we are going to build a forest, then our laws best be about what is good for our children.  Marriage matters.  Mothers and fathers united in stable relationships defined by a focus on creating a nurturing environment for their children…this has always been the focus of a society that cares about the future.

Me, myself, and I will never create a seedling.  I may be a very pretty tree.  But I won’t live forever.  And I will never be more than a forest of one tree.


 September 3, 2004 – We’re Not in Kansas Anymore

June 13, 2005  – A Recipe for Families

See Archives for past editorials.