Married with children

Well that title itself will mean different things to different people. If you’re about my vintage (I am the half century on the dot) you’ll remember the American sitcom TV series by that name in the late 80’s and 90s featuring dysfunctional dad / husband/ neighbour Al Bundy and his family. If you need a reminder, have a look at this 2-minute clip that explains the characters, set to the theme music which was of course ‘Love and Marriage’ by fantastic ol’ blue eyes himself, Frank Sinatra.

It was playing about the same time as The Cosby Show – which was the polar opposite – a text book loving ‘modern family’ of the day, with Bill Cosby’s character being voted “the greatest TV dad” apparently. Ah, how it all unfolds over time eh…who’d have guessed! Bill Cosby it turns out seems to be anything but what his outward persona was back in the day. Ed O’Neill who played Al Bundy the disgruntled dad in Married with Children, on the other hand, found favour with the public when he went on to be a ‘tell it like it is’ dad/ husband / extended family member in the TV series Modern Family. The series in fact pretty much reflects the huge varieties of relationships and family setups and dynamics in a straight up, humorous sort of way.

I’ve watched a few eps, and you know it’s a classic, funny watch – I’d challenge anyone to say they can’t see parts of their own personality and behaviour, that of their kids, relationship dynamics, how families work or don’t work either as one unit or when they interact with the rest of the wider family…somewhere in the content. This clip here has some pertinent family dynamics musings from the producers:

So, what is the moral of the story, TV series clip watching aside? Well (granted this could be life imitating art) but for me, I don’t personally think being ‘married with children’ is the only way to have a relatively functioning union and supported children within it. Far from it. By the way, I say “relatively functioning” because most unions that last have their ups and downs I reckon, but the general trajectory is OK.

Children in my mind need steady, reliable adults that will support them to flourish, whether marriage is part of that equation or not, whether they are heterosexual or not, whether they are together or not. Together could mean toxic in some cases. I’m not anti-marriage. In fact, I’ve just celebrated 25 years of marriage, and it’s a great milestone to achieve. I’m very happy to be married to the man I am, and to have the kids I do – as much as a marriage and kids can be testing at times. You’d get the same answer from my husband and the kids I suspect – that they both love me and have had to put up with me at times on the journey.

I’m not sure how I suddenly got to a silver wedding anniversary with kids aged 21, 18 and 13. In a blink I went from dinner for two and toys on the bedroom floor to dinner for 5 or more and cutting a swathe through the floordrobe of the teenage son’s room to open the window. Still, better not complain – I’ll miss the floordrobe soon enough as he’ll be gone and I’ll be looking at a tidy room and feeling all morose! Whatever your family unit, make the most of it I reckon. Do more of what seems to work well, less of what causes friction, and celebrate the milestones when they roll round.