Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage

A fish and a bird may indeed fall in love, but where shall they live?

As I got older, I discovered that nothing within me cried out for a baby. My womb did not seem to have come equipped with that famously ticking clock. Unlike so many of my friends, I did not ache with longing whenever I saw an infant. (Though I did ache with longing, it is true, whenever I saw a good used-book shop)

Because I know something that you don't know. I know that this is the worst experience of your life, but I also know that someday you'll move past it and you'll be fine. And helping somebody likej you through the worst experience of her life is incredibly gratifying.

By unnerving definition, anything that the heart has chosen for its own mysterious reasons it can always unchoose later—again, for its own mysterious reasons.

Desiring another person is perhaps the most risky endeavor of all. As soon as you want somebody—really want him—it is as though you have taken a surgical needle and sutured your happiness to the skin of that person, so that any separation will now cause a lacerating injury.

every healthy marriage is composed of walls and windows. The windows are the aspects of your relationship that are open to the world—that is, the necessary gaps through which you interact with family and friends; the walls are the barriers of trust behind which you guard the most intimatesecrets of your marriage.

Every intimacy carries secreted somewhere below its initial lovely surfaces, the ever-coiled makings of complete catastrophe.

For if there is one thing I have learned over the years about men, it is that feelings of powerlessness do not usually bring forth their finest qualities.

I'd learned enough from life's experiences to understand that destiny's interventions can sometimes be read as invitation for us to address and even surmount our biggest fears. It doesn't take a great genius to recognize that when you are pushed by circumstance to do the one thing you have always most specifically loathed and feared, this can be, at the very least, an interesting growth opportunity.

I do forget sometimes how much it means for certain men—for certain people—to be able to provide their loved ones with material comforts and protection at all times. I forget how dangerously reduced some men can feel when that basic ability has been stripped from them. I forget how much that matters to men, what it represents.

Infatuation is not quite the same thing as love; it's more like love's shady second cousin who's always borrowing money and can't hold down a job.

In the end, it seems to me that forgiveness may be the only realistic antidote we are offered in love, to combat the inescapable disappointments of intimacy."

“Women’s sense of integrity seems to be entwined with an ethic of care, so that to see themselves as women as to see themselves in a relationship of connection…I believe that many modern women, my mother included, carry within them a whole secret New England cemetery, wherein that have quietly buried in many neat rows– the personal dreams they have given up for their families…(Women) have a sort of talent for changing form, enabling them to dissolve and then flow around the needs of their partners, or the needs of their children, or the needs of mere quotidian reality. They adjust, adapt, glide, accept.”

“The cold ugly fact is that marriage does not benefit women as much as it benefits men. From studies, married men perform dazzingly better in life, live longer, accumulate more, excel at careers, report to be happier, less likely to die from a violent death, suffer less from alcoholism, drug abuse, and depression than single man…The reverse is not true. In fact, every fact is reverse, single women fare much better than married women. On average, married women take a 7% pay cut. All of this adds up to what Sociologists called the “Marriage Benefit Imbalance”…It is important to pause here and inspect why so women long for it (marriage) so deeply.

In the modern industrialized Western world, where I come from, the person whom you choose to marry is perhaps the single most vivid representation of your own personality. Your spouse becomes the most gleaming possible mirror through which your emotional individualism is reflected back to the world. There is no choice more intensely personal after all, than whom you choose to marry; that choice tells us, to a large extent, who you are.

Marriage becomes hard work once you have poured the entirety of your life’s expectations for happiness into the hands of one mere person. Keeping that going is hard work.

Marriage is those two thousand indistinguishable conversations, chatted over two thousand indistuinguishable breakfasts, where intimacy turns like a slow wheel. How do you measure the worth of becoming that familiar to somebody—so utterly well known and so thoroughly ever-present that you become an almost invisible necessity, like air?

My love affair with (him) had a wonderful element of romance to it, which I will always cherish. But it was not an infatuation, and here’s how I can tell: because I did not demand that he become my Great Emancipator or my Source of All Life, nor did I immediately vanish into that man’s chest cavity like a twisted, unrecognizable, parasitical homonculus. During our long period of courtship, I remained intact within my own personality, and I allowed myself to meet (him) for who he was.

My restlessness makes me a far better day-to-day traveler than he will ever be. I am infinitely curious and almost infinitely patient with mishaps, discomforts, and minor disasters. So I can go anywhere on the planet—that’s not a problem. The problem is that I just can’t live anywhere on the planet.

People always fall in love with the most perfect aspects of each other’s personalities. Who wouldn’t? Anybody can love the most wonderful parts of another person. But that’s not the clever trick. The really clever trick is this: Can you accept the flaws? Can you look at your partner’s faults honestly and say, ‘I can work around that. I can make something out of it.’? Because the good stuff is always going to be there, and it’s always going to pretty and sparkly, but the crap underneath can ruin you.

Plant an expectation; reap a disappointment." (Quoting an old adage)

Real, sane, mature love—the kind that pays the mortgage year after year and picks up the kids after school—is not based on infatuation but on affection and respect.

Sometimes life is too hard to be alone, and sometimes life is too good to be alone.

The act of quiet nighttime talking, illustrates for me more than anything else the curious alchemy of companionship.

Then again, you cannot stop the flood of desire as it moves through the world, inappropriate though it may sometimes be. It is the prerogative of all humans to make ludicrous choices, to fall in love with the most unlikely of partners, and to set themselves up for the most predicatable of calamities.

The problem, simply put, is that we cannot choose everything simultaneously. So we live in danger of becoming paralyzed by indecision, terrified that every choice might be the wrong choice.

There is no choice more intensely personal, after all, than whom you choose to marry; that choice tells us, to a large extent, who you are.

To be fully seen by somebody, then, and be loved anyhow - this is a human offering that can border on miraculous.

What time has ever been a simple time for those who are living it?

When you have only two minutes to say good-bye to the person you love most in the world, and you don’t know when you’ll see each other again, you can become logjammed with the effort to say and do and settle everything at once.

With each reunion (we) had to learn each other all over again. There was always that nervous moment at the airport when I would stand there waiting for him to arrive, wondering, Will I still know him? Will he still know me?

You can measure the happiness of a marriage by the number of scars that each partner carries on their tongues, earned from years of biting back angry words.