I’ve been married forty-six years. I think that qualifies me to philosophize about marriage, and I’m going to do that today.
I have come to the conclusion that there are two things that contribute to a happy and successful marriage:
1. The first is the makeup of the people who enter into the marriage. I think the most successful marriages are made up of two people who each have the capacity to be happy alone. A person who can be happy alone is not dependent upon another for contentment or fulfillment and so doesn’t look to her partner to provide that in her life. This also makes it so the union is a free-will offering on the part of each.
2. I feel that a good marriage results when two people realize that, when they marry, the two of them ally to form an entity that is made up of the two parts, but is different from either. It’s better, stronger, more than the sum of its parts. I call it The Corporation. Each is an equal shareholder, and each must be steadfastly loyal to The Corporation, because disloyalty to The Corporation means disloyalty to oneself. I would not lie to my spouse, because in doing so, I would be lying to The Corporation, and, by extension, lying to myself. If I cheat on my spouse, I’m cheating on myself, since both I and my spouse share equally in The Corporation. When I serve my spouse, I’m serving myself, because I’m serving The Corporation. It’s a kind of enlightened self-interest and does away with any 50%-50% or 60%-40% or 90%-10% propositions about who should give more to the marriage or who is the dominant personality.
Of course there are lots of other things that contribute to a good marriage: being equally yoked as far as intelligence, education and religion; having a sense of humor and being able to laugh at yourself—which are not necessarily the same things; being fiscally responsible. All these are important, but I think the two things I’ve listed above are basic to a lasting marriage.
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