Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Hanging On to Marriage: Tough Task in a Throwaway World

In U.S. we throw away wives, husbands, marriages
N.Y. Times

''We're a throw-away society, aren't we?'' Newman was saying. ''We throw away everything. We never even try to fix things - we throw them away, we destroy things - appliances that break, old buildings because they're old, we throw away relationships that aren't exactly what we thought they'd be, we throw away wives, husbands, marriages.''

It isn't that Paul Newman is the most profound man on earth but itwas the question he responded to that interested me: ''To what do you owe your long and successful marriage? In the world you live in - Hollywood, the theater - long marriages are almost extinct, perhaps impossible.''

A long marriage. By today's standards, what is long? Five years, 10, 15? If so, what are 25, 30, 40?

''They are not long marriages - they are life sentences,'' says a young friend. ''It is impossible to live with someone that long and not be bored out of your skull. Sex with the same person for 30 years? Give me a break!''

It saddens and, at the same time, fascinates me, this complete ignorance of what the young are really talking about when they talk of marriage.

Of course, with time and age comes wisdom, but 40 years ago when some of us married, didn't we have some sense of what we were committing to? Of course we didn't realize what ''for better, for worse'' might entail but we at least were willing to try. I sometimes wonder why people bother with the whole rite of marriage these days, given their attitude toward it.

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