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10/17/2005 Archived Entry: "The Commitment"

I’ve just seen two dear friends get married, Tal (godmother of my two kids) and Tracy (granddaughter of Jack Kirby). Both women have selected great husbands; Andrew and Jon, respectively; men whom I hold great esteem and fondness.

Mary and I have been to many weddings, but these two were different in many ways. First, we’re enjoying a spike in our love and appreciation for each other – and that’s a pretty big accomplishment considering where couples statistically are after nine years and two kids. Second, I’m 50 this month – and that’s a pretty damn big milestone no matter how much denial you want to employ.

So you could say that I’m older, wiser (although Mary might have an opinion about that), and better at understanding the commitment that marriage brings. The key word is “commitment” – a dodgy and daunting thing in our fast society; a word that has become transient and opaque in its meaning and application, as hard work often is.

Marriage should be like work; easy to love at best and best if it is easy to love. Who said, “Love is blind” also meant that marriage can be a real eye-opener. An old man once told me that courtship is like looking at the beautiful photos in a seed catalog; marriage is what actually comes up in your garden.

All perfect marriages are made up of couples who accept the fact that they have an imperfect marriage. No one in love is free, or wants to be. So, don’t marry a person that you know you can live with; marry someone that you cannot live without.

With that in mind, those of us who are married know that good marriages are made in heaven, but so are thunder and lightning. A science fact: At any given time, there are 1,800 thunderstorms somewhere in the earth's atmosphere.

A good marriage is the state or condition of a community consisting of a master, a mistress and two slaves, making in all two (Ambrose Bierce).

If the heart of success is getting what you want and the spirit of happiness is wanting what you get, then the life of a successful and happy marriage is compromise on what you need.

Case in point… most married couples, even though they love each other very much in theory, tend to view each other in practice as large teeming flaw colonies, the result of which is that they get on each other's nerves and regularly erupt into vicious emotional shouting matches over such issues as toaster settings (Dave Barry).

Ah, but imperfection brings joy to the world. Like singing. We can do enough to satisfy ourselves, but you probably won’t impress the neighbors.

A good marriage is like a casserole, only those responsible for it really know what goes in it – and they savor every bite.

A poem from Ogden Nash, and I say this to you two dear friends as much for my wife Mary.

Far and wide, far and wide, I can walk with you beside; Furthermore, I tell you what, I sit and sulk where you are not. Visitors remark my frown; When you're upstairs and I am down. Yes, and I'm afraid I pout; When I'm indoors and you are out; But how contentedly I view; Any room containing you. In fact, I care not where you be; Just as long as it's with me. In all your absences, I glimpse Fire and flood and trolls and imps. Is your train a minute slothful? I goad the station master wrothful. When with friends to bridge you drive, I never know if you're alive, And when you linger late in shops I long to telephone the cops. Yet how worth the waiting for, To see you coming through the door. Somehow, I can be complacent Never but with you adjacent. Near and far, near and far, I am happy where you are. Likewise, I have never learnt How to be it where you aren't. Then grudge me not my fond endeavor, To hold you in my sight forever; Let none, not even you, disparage Such valid reason for a marriage.

Thanks Mr. Nash. Couldn't have said it better. -HP

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