March 9, 2015

How Then Should We Live?

I realized a long time ago that living for and by myself was not my cup of tea. I'm not saying that that it's a terrible way to live, but I'm just not built that way. After my first marriage crashed and burned I was gun shy; I was divorced by 24 and remarried at 32. Now after 30+ years my wife and I get along pretty well. There were rocky patches to be sure but the lug nuts of our marriage were tight thanks to our commitment to God and each other.

Now that the youngest is out of college we have more disposable income. We aren't rich, we aren't poor, but at last we're comfortable. Now comes the more intense preparations for living out the last of our years. During this time I have more and more opportunity to look back and evaluate what we've done and to thank God for His provision. And for our family.

Our oldest daughter and her husband and their four kids were over yesterday for a Sunday dinner of Grandma's pasta, sauce and meatballs. Their twentieth anniversary is next month. Our middle daughter and her husband (married now for 18 months) were also there as well as the youngest daughter just out of college and rarin' to move to NYC to make her mark in the fashion industry. Our Army girl Skyped in later in the afternoon and we spoke with her for a spell.

Listening to the uproar, the banter of my wife and daughters, the laughter, the silliness ... there's nothing that can replace it, there's no way to put a price on it, there's no way to grow it without years of commitment and sacrifice.

I talked my wife into quitting her job at the phone company after our second child was born (she made more than me on my police salary). I wanted her home with the kids. That was twenty-seven years ago - I remember praying that nothing would break because I couldn't afford to fix it. I grabbed all the extra overtime I could find and did construction/remodeling work on the side.  My Dad was a hard worker, that's how I was brought up and I just did what I was expected to do.

I'd do it again in a heart beat 'cause it's all worth it. And the older I get the more I appreciate the value of our family.

Cardigan over at iOTW posted something about the decisions people are making today about family. It's downright discouraging. People are abandoning the creation of families in order to please themselves. From the Jewish World Review:
[...]In Europe, the most rapidly growing type of family unit is the one-person household. Such households already make up one-third of the households in Western Europe and 45% in Denmark. Japanese demographers Miho Iwasaw and Ryuichi Kaneko project that twenty years from now over 50% of Japanese women will never have grandchildren. Already those born after 1990 have less than a fifty percent chance of marrying and staying married until age fifty. Nor are these trends confined to affluent educated societies. A similar flight from marriage and childbearing is taking place in the Arab world.

It was partly in order to replace a declining labor pool that Europe allowed the immigration of millions of Muslims, and thereby set the stage for violent social conflict in the not too distant future.

Finally, the conjunction of childlessness with increased longevity means that it will fall upon government to care for growing numbers of elderly suffering from dementia or otherwise unable to care for themselves and with no family members to do so. That development alone will fuel calls for healthcare rationing, the termination of life-support, and assisted suicide — in short, the rejection of the idea that human life itself is a value.

As the flight from family takes wing, however, the pattern of life satisfaction increasing with age will reverse. If life is based solely on the fulfillment of one's hedonistic desires, those desires are more easily attained in youth than in middle-age and beyond. Those who choose a life without commitment or encumbrance are likely to find themselves living an ever more lonely existence as they age.
So very, very sad.


Anam Cara said...

Absolutely agree! We have 5 grands and another on the way. Seems like the two oldest children have stopped at two each, the third is expecting her second and the fourth, though married hasn't started yet (stuff about wanting to go to grad school first). Very few families have four kids anymore. This is one of the saddest things about our culture, in my opinion. Every time a family in our church has another child I truly rejoice. Those of us who can need to do all we can to support families with children! It doesn't hurt to double a recipe once and awhile and share it with a growing family. Offer to babysit. Buy school supplies when on sale. Offer to provide the annual backpack. Encourage those who are having babies!

Doom said...

I am pleased to know that some people have done that. I am jealous, mostly in the good way. I've turned around in my notions. It feels as if the world, for most of my life, didn't want me to settle, and I agreed. Possibly rightly though, at the time.

In any case, if I end up lassoing a woman (or more likely the other way around), I know who to ask those... stupid man questions. I know how to be a lover, but marriage is so much more... I presume. Just enjoy the fruits, you've certainly earned them.