Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Will Climate Change Heat Up Marital Strife?

Let me start out by saying that Mr. Green Bean is a pretty green guy and very tolerant. I mean VERY tolerant. He eats our local, seasonal meals with less and less fresh fruit and has only asked once, with some trepidation, can we really keep eating locally when winter comes? He dutifully puts the bucket in the shower to catch water while it's warming, brings his own waste free lunch to work, and wears his robe around the house because our heat is turned down. He has buoyed my green spirits when the blue in our LED lights left me feeling less than festive, wholeheartedly supported my efforts to limit the number of material goods the kids get for Christmas and spent an entire weekend working on my lasagna gardening. Hey, he even gave me a thumbs up when I told him I'd worn the same jeans 5-6 days in a row. What a catch, right?

Here's the real catch, though. I have noticed the number of disagreements Mr. Green Bean and I have escalating as our family has gone greener and greener. Even though I really do enjoy most of the changes we've made, the truth is some of them - line drying clothes, using a push mower instead of gardeners and their gas powered machines, preparing a meal with fresh local food instead of takeout - just take longer. They leave us a bit more strapped for time.

Also, am I the only one who sometimes worries about my kids' future with climate change, peak oil and such? I feel under pressure to do as much as possible as soon as possible and that sometimes leaves me a little bit less, um, patient than I should be.

And then there are the philisophical differences. Mr. Green Bean is one green bean but, truth be told, he's a different shade of green than me. I'm all about conserving, cutting back, hunkering down. He's all about green tech, marketplace changes, appealing to the masses. I want to live in the country and work toward self-sufficiency on a farm. He, on the other hand, wants to start a company specializing in technology that will help people cut their emissions while maintaining their comforts. We've had a number of debates on this subject and always end them agreeing to disagree.

I don't think I'm the only one. Some bloggers write that their spouses tease them for being so "green." One friend's conservative husband rolls his eyes when she starts up the global warming train. I remember a heated discussion on the Riot For Austerity group where someone posted about her non-supportive (in the ecological sense) spouse and another poster stated she could never be married to someone who did not have the same environmental commitment.

So will climate change lead to more marital discord? Quite possibly. As the planet warms and resources become more scarce, everyone will feel more pressured and tempers will certainly flare. Or maybe natural disasters will bring us closer together.

Just remember that marital strife doesn't affect just the parties to the marriage. Yes, there are the kids to consider but I'm talking about the environment! CindyC over at Organic Picks reminded me this morning that divorce - and the resulting maintenance of separate residences - negatively impacts our planet. I guess us true greens have no choice but to keep things happy on the home front. ;-)


Megan said...

"Different shades of Green" is a great way to describe this phenomenon. The important thing is that it's an issue in your house- you're not ignoring it. But we do, in our house, occasionally have one spouse following the other around the house turning off lights...

Cindy said...

Love the post. My husband and I have similar differences. The funny thing is that a couple of years ago it was the other way around. He recycled every little scrap of paper, and I was more careless. Now he still recycles every little scrap of paper, but I have made him take on more challenging tasks - like not buying not much of anything, eating mostly from farmer's market, and composting. He is the chef of our family, so you can see how these limitations may cramp his style. I have to relent a little bit every so often... He calls me a kook, in a joking way :)

Burbanmom said...

Yeah, I've got one of those eye-rollin' husbands. But since I'm in charge of almost every facet of running the home - I get to choose our food, products and thermostat settings. He indulges most of my changes, but stands ground on certain things (like anything coffee-related).

Bottom line, all relationships involve compromises. I do my best to follow my conscience without pi$$ing off hubby and he does his best to navigate through the maze of daily changes I make.

Now if only I could get him to read my blog, maybe he'd have a clue as to what I'd be up to next!

Melinda said...

Very interesting. My husband and I definitely have similar clashes - mostly stemming from what each of us find more important to cut back on, and the time factor. Sometimes it feels like there just isn't enough time in the day to do all we want to do!

About two years ago, it was the reverse: he was thinking more about peak oil and climate change, and how to prepare our lifestyle for a different future. And I was working in the film industry (in LA), which is about as over-the-top in resource consuming as you can get. Now he lives in the consumer-driven world all day at work, and comes home to an opposite world I'm creating at home.

The good thing is that we've both seen both sides of this incongruent lifestyle, so when we "make up" after an argument, it always brings us closer.

Interestingly, my husband and are are not really different shades of green, but we have different reasons and motivations for being the same shade of green - if that makes any sense!


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