During a lull in decent television programming tonight, El 3atal and I happened upon the Godfather playing on TV. I’m not sure if it’s a girl thing or just a me thing, but I don’t get the overweening fascination guys have with this movie. It’s a good movie, don’t get me wrong. But it’s just a movie… right? We came into it during the Don Corleone’s daughter’s wedding. During the scene, there’s a poignant vignette where Michael is telling his girlfriend Kay (who is as white bread as you can get) about one of the “offers you can’t refuse” his father has issued. She is, understandably, horrified. Michael says to her, “That’s my family, that’s not me.” Apparently she finds this argument compelling as we later see her marrying Michael and coming into the family.
Now, for you fans of the movie, you know that Michael’s older brother, the heir apparent, is murdered and Michael takes over the family business. In doing so, he becomes exactly what he vowed to Kay he was not, pure Italian, pure mafia. I made the idle comment to Kay (yes I talk to the TV, I’m admitting it) that she should have run out of the house at that moment and never looked back. There’s a reason that young rising mafia men marry the daughters of older established mafia men. They know what they’re signing on for. El 3atal’s rejoinder was that it is a bit like those naive American gals (which I’ve had occasion to discuss in the past as you may recall) who marry Jordanian men thinking he’s “liberal” and “Americanized”. They visit and see mom and dad and think, but he’s not like them. Or they don’t visit (by far the worst choice) and think he’s just like everyone else here.
As much as we may not want it to be the case, young men are likely to expect their wives to be like their mothers. And young women are likely to expect their husbands to be like their fathers. We may not WANT to be like our families, but we usually are. Forget nurture versus nature, in this you’re fighting nurture AND nature. If you want to see what a girl will look like 30 years down the road, look at her mom. If you want to see a guy’s expectations for his marriage, look at HIS mom ;). And I promise you, it will be very telling.
When I began to consider El 3atal as a partner for life, it was pretty important that I understood his parents and their dynamic. It turns out that I found a man who is unusual for his culture, but not for his pattern. TetaBean works. She has for (are you ready?) her entire marriage. She is an accomplished and well-rounded woman who is an excellent role model. It’s not surprising, then, that El 3atal found a wife who is (and I say this with all knowledge of the undue honor I’m bestowing on myself) in a similar model. I have worked all of our married life. Currently I work a bit less than previously, but I still work. Not necessarily because of the income as much as to use my brain, get myself moving, and keep involved. I go stir-crazy without anything to do. Had TetaBean been, instead, a typical stay-at-home mom who cooked and cleaned and that’s pretty much it, we’d have had issues. I will never be that kind of mom. I can do all sorts of things with the Beans, but I’m not a Mom-type gal. I recognized that TetaBean’s model was very important to whether I could be the right wife for El 3atal (so far so good, teehee).
And so, if you don’t want to live with a mafia boss, don’t marry the mafia boss’ son. Even if it seems he’s “different” or not like them, he likely will be. That old adage “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” is about for a reason. It’s valid and it’s nearly always true. So, gals (American and otherwise), look at your prospective gentleman’s mom before you decide if your future hitched together will be peaceful. If the life she leads (and her style of dress, outlook on life, and religiosity would drive you crazy, think long and hard. Those patterns and HARD to break (as you’ll know even more clearly the first time you say something to your kids and realize it’s one of those things your Mom said to you and you vowed you’d NEVER say to your kids ;)).