As I creep ever closer to twenty years of wedded bliss, I find myself being asked periodically for advice on how to be married. Part of this has to do with the fact that the majority of the folks with whom I work are about a generation removed from me, and have only just begun the trip down their path to happily ever after. I try to keep any wisdom that I might spout in as general terms as possible, since I don't expect that my personal experience will transfer directly to anyone else. I am, as it turns out, making this up as I go along.
I am humbled, for example, by the story of Fred and Margaret Pais. Those two were celebrating their twentieth anniversary right about the time I was being born. Their life together has been full of challenges and difficulties, but the effort they put into being married meant that they stayed that way. Back when I had just graduated from high school, one of my friends told me that he was going to be busy on a particular weekend because, he told me, he was going to be "working on his relationship." Work? Why should a relationship be anything but a value-added portion of my life? There are far too many other things that I would rather put my effort into than getting along with another person. Or at least that's what I thought then.
The history of irony will record, with a smirk, that the girl that my friend was negotiating with way back when turns out to be my wife now. It is how these things roll, I've found. Now, as my son begins to contemplate the vast sea of love waiting in front of him, his mother would like him to go out there and have fun before he decides to settle down. It shouldn't be work, she suggests without saying it in so many words. It should be fun. At this point, I ponder my options, and remember to work on keeping my mouth shut. There are still so many things to learn.