Learning From The Scandals Of The Distant Past

As I am making more progress on my parents' respective family trees, I am also discovering a lot of family secrets...or maybe they were not really secrets but just got buried in the past.  As I unravel our family histories, I realize that human behavior then was not much different from what it is today. The only difference is that in the past there were clear cut rules on appropriate behavior while in this modern age, what is right and wrong has become relative. The poignant movie The Age of Innocence is a good example of how relationships and it's complications were handled by the middle and upper class in the 19th to the mid 20th century. There was a standard of behavior that put emphasis on importance of family and respect of society. If you fail to observe these, you are banished, exiled or marked as a persona non grata doomed to be set aside and ignored by family and society the rest of your life.  In the past, arranged marriages were common and if you're lucky, you may actually fall in love but more often than not, it was very businesslike.  And so it is not uncommon to find husbands with extra-marital affairs and illegitimate children from these affairs...or unhappy trophy wives, bored with their passionless marriage or controlled by overbearing husbands who would spend their days gossiping or gambling or giving birth.  Of course, just because our ancestors were in an arranged marriage does not mean all of the above happens. If ever there were scandals, it could just as well mean that some of my ancestors were free spirits and non-conformists!  There is also such a thing as "repeating the sins of the father"...in my father's tree for example, we are descended from a man whom we never knew had 3 women in his life.  I always thought that my great-great grandmother was his only wife and that he died relatively young since his children ranged from 18 to 3 years old at the time of his death.  It was only years later that I learned that our line is from the 3rd wife and he probably died of old age!  The point that I am trying to make is that when it comes to illicit sexual relationships and all the emotions and lies that come with it, nothing has changed from the past to the present.  How about the future?  I am hopeful about the future because unlike in the past when these were never talked about, today we are more open, more honest and more willing to talk about our feelings and problems.  While the past encouraged secrets, the future calls for honesty.

Next: Defining Family

Important Note: The meet and greet party has been moved to November 20, still a Saturday.  So far we have about 15 confirmed people coming. 


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