Posts Tagged ‘marriage’

What a relief to know that I am not alone, in my struggle with green marital bliss! Yesterday, Prad – my husband, otherwise known as Green Guru in a series of earlier posts – half jokingly suggested that I read Green with Worry, an article in the February issue of San Francisco Magazine. Here for your entertainment, are a few excerpts:

‘Lisa Behrens, a Berkeley mother, feels so torn about the extravagance of the nightly baths she needs to help her get to sleep that she’s started reusing her daughter’s bathwater. “It sounds gross, but she’s pretty clean,” Behrens says. Then, when Behrens is done, sometimes she fills up plastic milk containers with the dirty water and dumps it in the garden. Her husband has no idea about any of this. “When I ask him not to drain her tub, he doesn’t ask why.” The truth is, on the spectrum of eco-worry, most of us are probably closer to Behrens’ mate—not blissfully oblivious, exactly, and not in total denial, but not consumed with guilt or fear, either. Ironically, Behrens’ husband is a longtime environmental professional. “I think he knows one plastic soda bottle isn’t going to change the world,” she says.’

‘“It might start with an awareness of what’s going into your baby’s mouth, or the cost of gas, or that your husband is taking half-hour showers,” says Santa Barbara–based therapist Linda Buzzell. Some individuals and couples don’t even understand the true source of their edginess and conflict. “They might come in complaining about their sex lives,” says Point Reyes therapist Lesley Osman, only to discover that the underlying problem is “basic differences in how they approach this stuff.”’

‘Typical eco-worriers turn the blame inward—at our loved ones and ourselves. Take me, for example. At home, I refuse to buy chocolate candy, since traditional cocoa bean farming is environmentally destructive. “You’ve taken the joy out of Almond Joy,” my husband, Steve, mopes. He and my 10-year-old son, Sam, have also been complaining that their shirts, which I’ve begun air-drying, are scratchy. “This may be good for the environment,” says Steve—who, for some reason, isn’t constantly in a blind panic that the world is ending—“but I feel like you’re making us wear hairshirts.” “Hmph,” I think. “That’s the least they can do for the planet. Considering that Steve is a Diet Coke–drinking, “qui sera, sera” sort of guy, he takes it pretty well. He hardly grumbled when I replaced our plastic containers with glass, or when my efforts to save energy by turning off major appliances at night meant our TiVo didn’t record a month’s worth of shows. The couch has been more of a strain on our relationship, but I’m sure we’ll get through it. There’s a hole in our family room where a sofa used to be. Every time Sam, who has asthma, sat on it, he began to cough and wheeze. I Googled toxic and couch and found out more than even I wanted to: about the foam made from carcinogenic petrochemicals; the glues, paints, and Scotchgard with ingredients that also cause cancer; and neuro- and endocrine disruptors, whatever those are. After a few months of living with Sam’s reactions and my growing dismay, I called the store downtown, which took the couch back. We have no place to sit and watch television, but maybe that’s better. We won’t be using all that carbon with our terrible big-screen TV.’

‘For Elaine Hayes, an East Bay mother of two, trying to be so good all the time has left her not just joyless, but paralyzed and mentally exhausted. She and her husband, John, built a “green” house in 2006, but their eco-vigilance hardly stops there. There’s the question of what to have for dinner: Her husband is a vegan, and Elaine tries to avoid red meat, but at the fish counter, she says, “I cannot keep up with what fish is OK to eat, between the safe farming practices and the mercury.” She checks every label for GMO, soy, lecithin, and any added corn, soy, or canola oil. “This is on top of all the other things we check for: organic ingredients, no corn syrup, trans fats, high sugar content, overly processed wheat instead of whole grain, eggs laid from free and happy hens, chickens who were free-range and well fed during their short little lives.” She washes every plastic bag. “But then I wonder about the germs that don’t get washed out, and if I am sickening my family. I have secretly been known to rip holes in the bags, just to have an excuse to throw them out.” Sometimes she even runs the dishwasher when it’s not totally full. “I just say, ‘Fuck it,’ and I feel guilty and defiant at the same time. How sick is that, and who am I really defying?” Meanwhile, Hayes still hasn’t been able to create the home office she wants. “My desk is a mess, with piles of things I would like to put on a bulletin board, but the glues in regular bulletin boards are too toxic. I also am sitting on a crappy, really uncomfortable chair at my desk, which deters me from doing any long-term projects, because I need to find a nontoxic, environmentally friendly desk chair.” Underneath the lethargy, Hayes’s resentment is palpable—not directed at the corporate evildoers who pour their poisons into innocent, unsuspecting furniture, but at her husband. As hard as Hayes tries to limit her footprint on the planet, he wants her to tread even more softly. “He represents the whole movement in his dogmatic practices. He’ll silently change all the bulbs in the house, so when I go to turn on the light, which used to give a beautiful and pleasant glow, I am accosted by fluorescent lights’ weak and hideous green glow. It is enough to make me scream.” It also makes her feel more guilty—as if she needed that. “I feel like a spoiled, indulgent, and superficial energy hog because I just want my incandescent bulb.”

At this point in the vignettes, I have to slip in this video of Laurie David, the producer of Al Gore‘s documentary, ‘An Inconvenient Truth‘:

In case you don’t know it already, there has been some changes in the David household, since this video was filmed last year. Yes, that’s right, Laurie and David split up. It’s hard to tell whether Laurie’s eco-activism on the home front had anything to do with the breakup. When asked about his post-divorce life, Larry David did say: “I went home and turned all the lights on!”

To prevent such an unfortunate turn of events, maybe we would all do well to listen to Tokuda:

‘When she recently remarried, Tokuda and her groom went so far as to pledge tolerance and forgiveness for any enviro-obsessed behavior. “When I met John, he didn’t recycle,” Tokuda says. In the ceremony, she vowed “to love you even if you don’t recycle plastic bottles.” John, in turn, vowed “to love you even if you go in the garbage and pull out plastic bottles.”’

Does this sound familiar to any of you? How do you navigate green differences with your mate?

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