Reflections on Forty Years

We are coming off the heels of a great visit with a family member, his significant other, and their three year old son.  Having them here reminded me (environmental catastrophes aside) how fortunate we are to live near the coast.  We managed to send them home with a little sunburn and well fed.

While they were here, I innocently poked at him about them getting married.  Without realizing it, he gave me a "what if" that basically constituted a recitation of his parents' failed marriage.  He may not have even realized it.  And, in fairness, I followed the same course after my first marriage failed.  My wife and I waited until our son was a year and half old before we tied the knot.  And I am thankful that the divine has smiled on us and helped keep us together through challenges - despite ourselves.

He and his better half seem to be compatible.  She is a really nice girl and outgoing.  Their son clearly thrives on being with them both.  But I have learned not to stick my nose too deeply where it doesn't belong (aside from publishing blog posts to the entire world about personal matters).  But hey, what secrets are there - really?

As I was thinking about the reasons that they might be putting off marriage (valid or not), I read in the news that Al and Tipper Gore were separating after much "careful deliberation and discussion."  It seems that so few marriages withstand the test of time.  The Gores spent forty years together, built a family and a home, and now they are going to start over.  Maybe it is the right thing for them.  Perhaps there is a long list of reasons which justify their parting ways.  Ultimately, it is a very personal decision between two very public persons.   It simply seems to me that most of the time when we run, we are really running from ourselves.  Problem is that we come with us wherever we go, though it may take some time for our shadows to catch up.  In the context of marriage, I can understand why it scares the hell out of young people.  It can feel like charging a machine gun nest after having seen a lot of other people take it on the chin. 

Perhaps we are living longer than we did years ago.  Perhaps we have shifted from communal and familial mindedness to one of  more individual focus.  I am sure there are numerous psychological and sociological explanations for the evolving family dynamic.

I read somewhere that marriage is our last great chance.  Anybody who has been married can attest to its challenges.  But the return and supportive partnership that comes from a good marriage is without comparison.  I don't know that it is the last great chance, but it surely must be one of them.

I leave you with Gibran:

You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore.
You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days.
Ay, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.
But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.

Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other's cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.

Give your hearts, but not into each other's keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other's shadow.


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