Oh the things we learn on Oprah

I have just realized that I'm able to get the Oprah Winfrey Network on my TV now. I think it's just a preview though. I'm really hoping that it is because there's a lot of stuff on that channel that could really suck my time.

But anyway, one of the things that's on the Oprah network is reruns of the Oprah show so I was watching that this morning. (you had to know there was no way we would every be completely rid of the Oprah show). I justified watching it because of the topic. It was about coming out. The one little section I saw was totally fascinating. It was about a woman who was 'happily' married to a man and had two small girls. She never had any inkling, thought, or inclination towards relationships with women until she met a woman at a conference and fell head over heels in love with her. She told her husband and he said 'Well, now that you mention it, I've had some interest in men for some time now and I'd like to explore that.' So now, he has a male partner and she has a female partner. They did not say, in the section I watched, whether they are still married but they were definitely still friends and still co-parenting.

What struck me about this was two things. First, the lack of angsty, hand-wringing, 'what does this mean for the children?' discussion. It was all very civilized and simple. She fell in love with a woman. She wasn't expecting that but she didn't want to deny it. He was interested in men. They allowed each other the space to explore those things. I don't think that it was entirely without angst and stress, but it seems they had worked it through in a totally mature, respectful way. When asked about their kids they said they had told their children the simple truth. Mommy loves Daddy and this woman. Daddy loves Mommy and this man. They said the kids haven't really had much trouble with it. Their children are 4 and 7 years old.

Second, how utterly normal this seemed to me. I work with and hang out with and care about lots of people who live out this kind of reality. They accept that sometimes you love more than one person and sometimes you love people that are the same sex as you. That's just something that happens for some of us and something that's natural for some of us and it can be completely fine. It was interesting to watch this discussion of this 'unusual' family setup and not see anything unusual about it at all. The only thing I thought was unusual was how cool everyone, including Oprah and the audience seemed to be with it. (I didn't see the whole show though - there may have been some backlash).

Maybe we are finally starting to evolve to a place where we can see that there isn't just one way to have a happy and healthy family - there are lots. Had these two denied their natural inclinations they would have either ended up cheating on each other or resenting each other - both of which probably would have led to an antagonistic divorce which would have been much harder on the children. As I said, I didn't find out if they were still married, but they were definitely still friends. I do think divorce is very hard on children, but if it's done in a way where everyone is civil and stays respectful friends, kids can come out of it okay. It is much better than Mom and Dad hating each other and the kids feeling like they have to take sides.

Contrary to what the vocal minority 'traditional family values' crowd would have us believe. This kind of family arrangement can actually work.