Vegan Deli

Vegan Deli  by Jo Stepaniak

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Raising Vegetarian Children
by Jo Stepaniak, M.S.Ed., & Vesanto Melina M.S., R.D.

Raising Vegetarian Children

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Visiting Relatives

Having this particular topic upon which to write just at this time is amazing synchronicity for me, as I am smack-dab in the middle of working out my feelings about it. As of about an hour ago, I agreed to fly 3,000 miles east with my husband at the end of November to visit his relatives. They and I have a 25 year history of discord, so I relish making the trip about as much as root canal surgery. Because of that, I have been asking him to forgo the trip.

Despite my continuous pleading and reasoning, he has repeatedly concluded that he needs to go. At first, he simply stated that he would go alone. I found that unacceptable, and so I undertook my campaign to have him stay home. He gentled his attitude then, and asked me politely to co-operate with him going. The respectfulness of his request softened me, but I was still too much against it to agree.

Today, as we once more discussed him going, I again expressed my reluctance. This time, he went even further and asked me to go with him.

As I considered my answer, I remembered how I felt 25 years ago when he expressed his deep feelings for me. I felt deeply honoured that he felt that way about me, but reluctant to embrace it. However, my Inner Voice told me that he was the one for me if I wanted to marry. As I did want to marry very much, I accepted on faith and trust that it would work out somehow.

Our marriage was difficult in numerous ways for a long time, and we struggled for many years. It turns out, the problems were largely rooted in many dysfunctional ideas that I brought to the marriage. Looking back on it, I can see how they also were largely the source of the resistance I felt to marrying him. Thanks to reading the Mars and Venus books by John Gray, I came to understand some of the basics about what it takes to be happy as a wife. Since then, I have come to appreciate my husband who has proved to be a much better match than I ever imagined possible.

Improving my health, by giving up sugar and becoming vegan, also was something I resisted strongly for a long time. That, too, has proved to be the very thing I most needed to do.

These thoughts flitted through my mind as I sat with the phone in my hand today, looking for an answer to his request that I accompany him east. Noting the similarity between this present situation and those important ones in my history, after a long moment of thought and speaking from the greatest reluctance, I agreed to go. I am hoping and trusting that agreeing to this trip will work out to my advantage--at least as much as those previous and difficult choices.

As I reaped the benefits of my marriage and dietary choices, I discovered that knowledge is a powerful tool. I have found that there are skills that can be learned that make getting to one's goals both enjoyable and health supporting.

In the early years of our marriage, I was doing my best to understand how to be happy as a wife. However, it was only when our marriage seemed about to go up in smoke that I reached out far enough for what turned out to be what I really needed to know. It was similar for me with eating a healthy vegan diet. I waited until my health was scraping the bottom of the barrel before I was willing to change my diet. My studies and experience with it have taught me to eat a low-fat version high in fruit and vegetables, to avoid gluten grains, to keep the protein content low, and to take B12 and ground flaxseed.

Something is telling me that there may be important things I need to know about how to thrive as a daughter- and sister-in-law too. As I consider this, it occurs to me that part of the problem, maybe the whole problem, has been in my expectations of my relationship with them. Early on, I felt a need to be as important to my husband's relatives as he was to them. In all honesty, I think I actually wanted to be MORE important to them than he was. I wanted them to embrace me, right from the beginning, with love and affection. More than that even, I wanted them to treat me the way I wanted to be treated--and I wanted it NOW. I saw them as my chance to have the loving family I felt I had missed with my own family of origin. When these extraordinarily high expectations did not materialize, the resulting alienation I felt, the disappointment and hurt, tainted my interactions with them. I alternated between groveling for their respect (didn't work!) and resenting that I wasn't getting it.

Possibly, I can apply lessons I have learned while traveling with my husband on business on numerous occasions. In those circumstances, not unlike being with his relatives, he is the one they know, the one they are pleased to see initially and primarily. I have found it easy enough in those circumstances to simply go along for the ride. I have enjoyed seeing the esteem in which his associates hold him, enjoyed the holiday and meeting new people, and let the rest go. Having only minimal expectations of his business associates for myself personally, it has been easy for them to surprise and please me with small gestures of attention or warmth. As a result, over time some of his business acquaintances and I have become quite fond of each other, which greatly adds to my enjoyment of the business trips. I suspect that acting as if my husband's relatives are like his business associates may help me find a comfortable way for me to relate to them.

I hope so.

Deborah P.

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