The Art of Good Marriage

The headline was fairly to the point: “Zooey Deschanel Files for Divorce From Husband of Two Years”.

Hmm, two years of wedded bliss, coming to a screeching halt, due to irreconcilable differences. Ah, the beauty of divorce in California!

I had a first marriage that crashed and burned. Thankfully, I learned from that egregious error. My (second) husband and I recently celebrated our twenty-third anniversary. In May, we will also have been married for twenty years.

I’d like to clarify these two confusing statements. Anniversary number twenty-three marked a civil marriage, which took place in 1988, five days after the birth of my second-eldest child. Anniversary number twenty will highlight our nuptials in the Catholic Church, mostly a symbol of a choice to religiously agree.

This second marriage isn’t perfect. I’ve been infected from time to time with asshole-ism, and occasionally, so has my husband. But no challenge or event has ever been so insurmountable that we decided to split. There are the sparse moments of reckoning, when marriage seems touch and go, but all in all, it’s been a sweet ride.

I’ve discovered that our relationship is a strange one from many typical American marriages. First, we work together. After work, we go home together. We sleep in the same bed, sit at the same table, and share the morning newspaper. Every mundane second is filled with this other, gorgeous person. We joke that we’re only apart when one or the other is using the toilet. There are the perennial “pull my finger” moments that still make me laugh. Even the remarks structured to annoy remind me that I can’t imagine my world without him in it. Think of it as symbiosis, not the part where we complete each other’s sentences (though that’s happened frequently), but the part where you would die without water, or your roots in earth. That’s what I mean; your life is entrusted in a single fallible being, who would stand in front of a bullet if it meant that it would extend your own life.

I once told a dear friend that life is meant to walk through alone, that if we’re fortunate to meet up with somebody special, whether a lover or a spouse or the comfort of a great friend, or the exuberant joy in watching your child grow up, then we’ve been blessed.

A few weeks ago, we received a Christmas card from my Aunt Lynn and Uncle Fran, who live in Arizona. The photo reveals a continuing love affair, with Aunt Lynn hovering over my Uncle Fran lovingly, endowing him with a huge kiss. And I can see the love on Uncle Fran’s face, despite the fact that he recently suffered a stroke.

Reminiscing on their relationship, I’m reminded that my aunt and uncle have always been best friends. Their happy marriage, and mutual longevity are proof of a will to continue this blessed romance. Their love is a difficult act to follow, but in love, nothing is as challenging as being without the person you care for; no water to drink, and no earth for your roots.

Today, I read excerpts from an interview with Newt Gingrich’s second ex-wife, Marianne, who reported that while Mr. Gingrich was denouncing President Clinton for an extramarital affair; Newt was carrying on one of his own with the woman who was eventually to become the third Mrs. Gingrich. Sadder still is Marianne Gingrich’s assertion that almost immediately following her diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, Newt filed for divorce. I think the divorce filing had less to do with Marianne’s M.S., and more to do with her refusal to grant him an open marriage, where he could keep a wife and a mistress, the proverbial having the cake and eating it, too.

A sly paragraph in the article suggests to the reader that Marianne Gingrich herself was Newt’s mistress while he was married to the first Mrs. Gingrich.

Not that I claim perfection, but I can’t see myself respecting a person like Newt Gingrich as my country’s ultimate leader of the free world. I can’t respect him one iota for being a serial philanderer, and for putting himself onto a pedestal of grace under pressure, as a figurehead for ethics and family values. If Gingrich’s behavior has taught Americans anything, it’s that the old proverb, “Fool me once…” really says it all.

At least Zooey Deschanel had the class to file for divorce before things got really rough.




About karenkennedysamoranos

I am an author based in Northern California, and co-manage a small music education business specializing in jazz performance for students ages 5 through 18.
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