People who get within sniffing distance of marriage are notable for their sudden transformation into SMEs (subject matter experts). It is amazing, really, how only a taste of marriage can turn someone into a fount of information on the subject. Here are some of the courses available through the Marriage Department at TMI U.
The Meaning of Commitment 101
Taught by a newly ringed NEF, the meaning of commitment covers what it means to declare yourself dedicated to someone for life, no matter what. Lectures range between 5 and 15 minutes and may include an earnest entreaty not to be afraid to commit yourself; after all, it’s probably going to work out great for this NEF.
How to Just Take a Leap of Faith – Seminar
Taught by an NEF, this quick disposition covers the meaning of faith, as well as the necessary prerequisites for it. There is brief coverage of the technique of leaping, as well as some evidence provided that leaps of faith pay off. Really. Things turn out fine. They do.
These impromptu speeches by NEFs bother me the least of all the near-marriage lectures, because I know they’re mostly talking to themselves. They’re nervous, and they’re trying to assure themselves that they weren’t stupid, accepting a ring from a stranger in return for a promise to remain dedicated to them for life.
Sometimes I bait them, proposing more and more dire marriage situations, just to watch them brace themselves to remain committed, yea, e’en in such dire straits.
What bugs me more is when people who have very little experience will marriage become experts on the subject. For example:
The Simplicity of Shalom Bayis – Lecture
Presented by an NMF of about three months, this lecture covers how simple shalom bayis is to maintain. All you have to do is listen to the other person and be willing to compromise. Honestly, what’s the big deal?
How Bad Decisions Messed up Someone Else’s Marriage, a Case Study
Presented by an MF of one year, this analysis of the rocky marriage of a 3-year-old couple will dissect poor decisions they made that led to their current situation. The lecturer will detail how she and her still-honeymooning husband would never make dumb mistakes like that.
Just from sitting around in my armchair watching, I suspect it takes a year before a couple really feels comfortable enough to start taking advantage of each other. Then you have another year before they start getting fed up with each other. So you won’t be seeing any cracks until year three, unless the situation is really bad. Oddly, that’s around when MFs stop dispensing the free marriage counseling.
Of course, I don’t claim to be an expert. I’m just explaining my own theory (available in lecture series upon request), and why I’d never take serious marriage advice from anyone who hasn’t been doing it for at least five years. Ten preferred.
Otherwise, you might as well purchase my other lecture series:
Why My Kids Are Going to be Fantastic
In this course I will espouse that raising great kids is simple: all you have to do is understand what each child needs and provide it. What’s the big deal?
I’m coming up on ten years now, so I am oh-so-wise: wise enough to know that I know nothing whatsoever. But I do remember fondly the courses I took from newly-married friends: a series on Six-Course Meals for the Husband and another on A Good Wife Would Never Leave Laundry or Dishes Overnight.
That’s why I hang out with people in their 60s. They just stick to “Don’t be picky.” They don’t say anything about happiness. At least they aren’t smug.
Talking about sniffing, maybe SNE is more appropriate in this case … Sticking their Nose into Everything.
Having just passed 10 years, my take on the newly-engaged/wed expert syndrome is that these characters are head-over-heels in their excitement in their new life and are certain that everything will be the “best ever.” Luckily, my chosson rebbi (and current posek) corrected that notion rather early with a great line: “Look, I don’t have a perfect marriage. I have a pretty good one, and we work hard at it.”
I don’t get these lectures. my longest-married friend has been married for under 3 years, shortest-married friend for 2 weeks. They say things like “talk more.” No smug lectures
I’m not even married yet and I also very good at giving these sorts of advice. You should ask me. I even once wrote an advice column
Guilty as accused. Two more years to the five year mark and then I get to lecture guilt-free.