Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Jumping to Conclusions While Reading Elizabeth Gilbert's Story

I just started reading Elizabeth Gilbert's Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage. Gilbert is best known for her memoir Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia, a book I haven't read.

When I first heard about Committed I was intrigued. It is a memoir about Gilbert's exploration of marriage, an institution which she and her man had agreed to forego mostly due to both having been through hard divorces in the past. Prior to getting married a second time, I also questioned whether marriage was necessary and what it really means. Given that, I'm curious to read about how Gilbert made peace with marriage and what she learned along the way.

The introduction has already captured my attention with her witty voice. She has set the tone for a great story full of insights on marriage in the Western culture (i.e. we Americans).

Toward the end of the introduction, she lists women whom she considers to be part of her circle. Among them she mentions her stepdaughter. I was inspired by this inclusion. I marveled at their relationship and applauded their closeness. I thought about how wonderful it is that the two of them have crossed such a hard road and come out better for it.

Then I hesitated. How could I infer from one list of names that their relationship was close? For all I know Gilbert included her stepdaughter's name as an olive branch of sorts, in the hopes of forming a bond. Or maybe she felt an obligation to include the name. Of course, it's entirely possible they really are close. I have no way knowing.

It was interesting to me then that my reaction had been to assume that theirs is a positive, loving (if not mutually respectful) relationship. Is that because of my own hope that I am forming a good relationship with my stepson? Or is it because I was jealous of the effortlessness I interpreted therein? Maybe a little of both? 70/30? :)

I am hopeful that close step-relationships are possible. I feel that my stepson and I have taken the right steps toward such a relationship. In fact, I wish it for Gilbert and all other stepfamilies as well.

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