Thursday, January 7, 2010

Twenty Five Years

When anyone asked him his age, my father used to reply with the number of years that he'd been married to my mother. While I used to find this embarrassingly corny--especially because my parents were never particularly affectionate--I think he got it just right.

I turned twenty-five this year.

Hard though it may be to believe (for us anyway), the first of January 2010 was more than simply the beginning of a New Year and a new Decade. For us--Valery and me--it was also the beginning of our second quarter-century together.

I have to say, if the next twenty-five years are anything like the last twenty-five, it's going to be one hell of a good ride.

Philosopher Robert Kane, who wrote Through the Moral Maze once said that our lives are centered around and conducted through what he called great individual 'social experiments'. These are the principal activities that we undertake in the course of our lives: long term projects, like building careers, making friends, creating art, etc.

They are considered to be 'experiments' because we undertake them as means of coping in the face of the unknown character of our lives.

We learn about ourselves in the same way a scientist might approach any unknown. We set up some rules of conduct and hold ourselves accountable for the results. Often the rules are forcibly changed to accommodate the feedback we receive in the course of our experiment, but if we are fair and capable, we strive for consistent results, like better jobs, more friends and a body of artistic work.

I took Dr. Kane's class at UT when I was an undergraduate and still a virtual newlywed, but I was encouraged by his assertion that of the many interwoven and self-defining 'social experiments' that make up our lives, marriage is potentially the most important and consequently rewarding of all. At the time, what did I know? Now, I know he was absolutely right.

I also know now, in a very real way, what I could only anticipate back then: Marriage is also one of the most challenging undertakings we can assume. It is this level of difficulty that accounts for both the phrase 'it takes work' and the fifty-percent failure rate.

Sadly, the difficulties of marriage are relentlessly examined, while the rewards for the half that take their 'work' seriously are seldom explored. Often good marriages are ridiculed, as if they just couldn't be possible. Certainly divorce makes a better story than a good marriage.

Alas, our story is not so exciting, but it is a lasting one. Our marriage--this grand experiment--has been an amazing and delightfully rewarding experience. Suffice it to say that I would write more but am being called to table.

It's rough work but someone's got to do it.

3 comments:

d2 said...

Yay for you two! If I were a scientist, I would say your experiment has proven the theory that you are right together...

April 1 is 25 for David and I, too. Though we don't have the formal piece of state-sanctioned marriage paper, it has been a spectacular proof.

valgal said...

wow - it's been a blink in the eye! and every new day fresh in it's attitude. and 4:20 and wine help ...oh yes - that comes with a good dose of a sense of humour!

Greyghost said...

@ David: I guess this came off sounding like a brag, but that wasn't my intent. Actually, many others have reached this milestone this year, not the least of whom are you and David and Billie and John! Congrats to you too!

@Valery: Indeed, it's your sense of humor that's been the key, what with such a 'hothead' for a husband! ;^)