Marriage dates back to ancient societies. Our ancestors needed a safe environment in which to have children and a way to handle property rights. Marriages based on love didn’t become popular until the Romantic Era. The engagement ring, a custom dating back to ancient Rome, is a circle symbolizing eternity and everlasting union. It was once believed that a vein or nerve ran directly from the “ring” finger of the left hand to the heart.
I have friends getting married this morning and can’t be there. I’d likely give a toast, as I know them fairly well and am always up for making an event about … Scott. I’m good at marriage; done it twice. One marriage was good, the other great. My first marriage ended not because it was bad, but because I wanted to be single. But that’s another post.
I see marriage through a male lens (can’t help that) and present the toast as advice to the guy on being a good husband/partner. So …
Don’t keep score. It’s human nature to inflate your own contribution to the relationship and minimize your partner’s. Couples who are always taking notes on who’s done what for whom waste energy, and ultimately both feel as if they’re in the loss column. Decide if the relationship, on the whole, gives you joy/comfort, and if it does (and it better, at this point), then commit to always being on the positive side of the ledger — aim to be generous and do as much for your partner, as often as possible. Be willing to wipe the slate clean if and when your partner messes up, as she/he will. Studies show that forgiveness is a key attribute to sustainable, happy relationships. One of the main components of our success as a nation is we give people a second chance. It’s no different in relationships — achieving real love and a sense of partnership will likely involve forgiveness that, at the time, feels unfair and even embarrassing.
As we get older, we get more reward from giving. Keeping score creates a dynamic where you never give in to the real joy in life … doing something for someone because you love them, and choosing their happiness over everything else, full stop. Caregivers are the most important contributors to the species, and are rewarded with longer lives. Marriage is a promise to give care, every day.
Don’t ever let your wife be cold or hungry. I mean … ever. In retrospect, most of the really awful fights I’ve had with partners have been because we managed to skip lunch. Invest in dual-zone climate control cars, and when you sit down at a restaurant, before you do anything, ensure you are not dining with Satan — a draft of cold air. Try to never leave the house without energy bars and one of those oversized cashmere scarves that could double as a blanket. You’re welcome.
Express affection and desire as often as possible. Affection, touch, and sex reinforce your relationship is singular. That this person, when all else is stripped away, is who you want. We are animals, and affection and sex is where you can be most who you really are. People who don’t feel desired are more likely to feel insecure, and to like themselves less around you, which can metastasize into the cancer of relationships: indifference and contempt.
In my experience, the most rewarding things in life are family and professional achievement. Without someone to share these things with, you’ve seen a ghost — it sort of happened, but not really. However, with the right partner, these things feel real, you feel more connected to the species, and all “this” begins to register meaning.
My grandmother said, “We all have our list; then we fall in love and tear up our list.” All of us in the office are happy Maureen and Brett have torn up their lists and this morning, in a civil ceremony, will say, “I do.” Or more specifically, “I will … care for, shelter, nourish, and want you.”
Life is so rich,