I liked it very much, but I’m not going to quote her verbatim (because now I can’t find the damn thing!!). Basically, whilst contemplating her second marriage, she asked other women about their marriages. She just happened to be in a Hmong village in northern Vietnam, where life is lived in pretty much the same tribal fashion as thousands of years ago. You know, the way our brains are still programmed to think.
So she began questioning a group of women, particularly a lovely grandmother, on their marriages, and when they knew that their husbands were the love of their life. As they were laughing their heads off at her, Elizabeth had an epiphany. Perhaps, whilst their marriages were an important part of their lives, these women relied on more than just one relationship for happiness. Marriages in this part of the world are far more practical than romantic. Maybe they had their need for connection, fulfilment, support, commiseration, empathy, and child-rearing assistance met in other ways... by each other perhaps. By their tribe.
I am a big believer in this. Whilst I love my husband, and he is a great partner, father, provider etc., I don’t rely on him to fulfil every facet of my life. My happiness is not solely his burden. Apart from the responsibility we must take for ourselves to be happy, I do think human connections are essential for happiness, at least for me. But how can we possibly rely on one person, no matter how wonderful (and usually of a different gender no less), to single-handedly raise us up? So I have a wide circle of family and friends who all offer their gifts. Don't get me wrong, my marriage is very important to me, but it's not the sole source of my happiness.
Then I read Thea’s latest post at Do I Really Wanna Blog about friendships and the different styles of friendship different people have to offer. This too resonated with me. The individuals in my group of friends, not to mention my family, differ wildly. There are introverts, extroverts, religious, spiritual, atheist, drinkers, teetotallers, parents, smug married, singles, real, imaginary, 2-D , old, young, in-between, country, city, gay, straight, bubbly, melancholy, optimist, pessimist and everything else you could think of.
Each have something different to offer to me and their other friends. Different styles of friendship as Thea puts it. The thoughtful, always-calls type, the do-anything-you-need type, the fun-to-go-get-loaded-with type, the wise one you take your problems to, the ones who inspire you, hell, even the ones who kick your butt and get you back on track. All different, all just as valuable as the others.
I think it’s like this – people need a tribe; a big group of people around you, partner if you have one, family, friends and especially girlfriends to give you all the aspects you need – you don’t expect your husband to spend hours trawling the shops and drooling over the men of Desperate Housewives do you??