Saturday, December 17, 2011

When Ethics Collide

I want to be clear about my H. He is interesting, smart, funny, looks good in a pair of jeans and can play guitar like no ones business.

But agrarian, green, and homesteady he is not. AT ALL.

We actually got married and our ethics about green technology, sustainability and eco-consciousness were the same - absolutely nil. Meaning, it wasn't on our collective radars at all. I went to college, he went to work, we both pursued our passion of good music, good movies, and good food respectively.

But then I started vegetable gardening and the self-sufficiency bomb blew up all over our house. Well, a slow blowup. Like a bomb at 1/8 speed. A slow spreading of ideals until today, when I make my own dog food, chicken stock and cook from home always, the chickens are scratching in the yard behind my kitchen window and a worm bin is chillin' just inside the back door. With worms actually in it (hint: he hasn't figured that out yet. It's turning into a science project to see how long it will take him to notice...).

So now I buy whole ingredients and cook from home, I hang our laundry, and make our own cleaning products. I try to be frugal in all things. I even confiscated pumpkin seeds from the neighbors to roast and eat as well as fill the bird feeder. Thrifty, sustainable, eco-friendly and hot, all wrapped up in a cardigan - that's me. 

But the H is not there with me and therein lies a tiny problem.

How to live with someone who doesn't share the same ideals in one area of life - or at least shares the ideals, but not the uncalibrated interest and outright fervent gusto for said ideals?

I shop a certain way - I try to make many meals out of a few ingrediants, and cook things in new ways. We tend to have many things stockpiled in the back pantry for use in all sorts of meals. 

The other night, my H decided to cook dinner. Of which I am eternally grateful and made sure to thank appropriately when it was time to eat. Then I waited a respectable amount of time, cleared away the *awful* plastic bags he had carried our groceries home in, and quietly told him that almost all the igredients he had gone to the store to get I already had. His answer was - "well, whatever. I didn't want to look and I was already on the road so..." 

None of that statement makes sense to me. But I smiled and reminded him that he probably didn't even need to go to the store and then let it go. No way in hell was I gonna mention the plastic bags. Never look a gift horse free meal in the mouth.

I love my H. Very Much. He is super intelligent and really a lot of fun to be around. He is not frugal, though. He is not homesteady. And he is certainly not into the self sufficient lifestyle. The above anectode only illustrates part of our idealistic divide. 

I want to raise rabbits for meat at some point, and he has put the kibash on that right away. He has never tasted rabbit. 

I would like to keep Hogs for meat - and learn to butcher and process them myself. No way. 

I want to live on 20 acres in a yurt. I think the answer to that was "fuck, no" before it was even out of my mouth. 

So - as a marriage and family therapist (no joke, that's what I do for a living) would naturally do, I look for the compromise so everyone can win and everyone can lose a little. That usually works, but the other half of that is harder to articulate and even harder to DO.

Compromise is one part - learning to live with half of your dreams is another. Half (or less) has to be enough. I mean, if you wanna stay married to that person, you gotta be okay with half. And that is hard stuff, my friend. You have to learn to be content with half and respect your partners boundaries when it comes to things they don't want to do. 

I think he put it best when I spouted off some ridiculous idea and he said "you have to understand that it would be like me asking you to live in a high rise in Seattle because I really wanted to. You're asking me to do something I totally don't want to do and that's not fair. And you can't get mad at that."

Touche. Dammit. 

He's right. We have been together 14 years and a lot changes in 14 years. People change, their ideals change, but we are still married to the same person. I have to learn to be content with a great H, a stable home, a healthy child and a bunch of chickens in a smaller pea patch. I have to learn how to make the best of a half-perfect situation and stop pressing so much for things only I want to do. I have to be respectful and merciful when it comes to my railroad will. I tend to get overblown about some things. Just another wonderful part of The Lindsey. Who doesn't love an overbearing, sanctimonious, frugal, pinko-commie, eco-conscious kill-joy?

I know I do. Boy-howdy. 

Doesn't mean i'm gonna give up the plastic bag battle, though. Some things I just can't abide....!


  1. i fight with my partner about these sorts of things as well. I'd be one happy chicken to live in a motorhome or small hut and raise animals and grow food and live very "small".... he's the opposite of an outdoorsy type person. He doesn't even like to take out the recycling... but you're right, compromise is important. and if you can make that work, you've got something (someone) really special.

  2. So does that mean a milk goat is out?


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