Three single people in a shared apartment living room. They are discussing how comfortable they are in their current living situation, and how perhaps a Boston marriage is in order, and who needs to get married anyway?
“Everyone I know who is married has issues. Either it’s the spouse or it’s the kids or it’s the trying to have kids. But they’ve nearly all been messy – sometimes permanently – in some way,” says First Single.
Second Single nods in agreement. One of her good friends recently filed for a divorce after five years with a deadbeat.
Third Single looked at the first two incredulously. “Are you saying you think being married is worse than being single?”
First and Second Single look at each other. “Well, it does look that way, from the outside.”
“Look,” Third Single began. “Granted, all the married people I know have Married-People Issues of some type. But don’t we all have Single-People Issues?” Her voice trailed off as she realized the inevitable response.
“Um, aside from the fact that we’re not married?” First Single said. “Not really.”
“We’re missing something, I think…” Second Single said, perturbed.
What you need is a sniff test. And a few other tests. Hat tip to O for this set of four indicators of marriage success. If you have can only take one pre-marital test, take this one.
A Friend has a friend who was having some marital issues in her first year – namely, finding some of her husband’s behaviors annoying. This young married woman – actually, Girl – discussed it with pretty much everyone under the sun except her husband, and they all (or at least, my friend) strongly suggested she actually tell her husband when he was bugging her. Girl would nod and then move on to the next party to tell them her issues and hear the same advice.
A couple of weeks later Girl approached Friend wreathed in smiles. She’d discussed her issue with a respected rebbetzin and the rebbetzin had spoken to her about the importance of communication, dispelled her notions of the imperturbable perfect wife, and urged her to respectfully broach the subject with her husband. Which she did, and lo! He was wondrously apologetic and immediately mended his ways.
Friend congratulated Girl, turned around, and indulged in a big rolling of eyes.
Sometimes it isn’t what is said but who says it that matters.
I was reminded of this recently when Good4 came home all excited. She and couple of classmates with Older Single sisters had been hanging with the ol’ high school principal. Naturally, they mentioned their terrible guilt at their impending marriages before their older sisters. (Because aren’t we all convinced we’re going to get married to the next guy?)
The principal frowned at their hesitation. “They had five years to get married,” she pointed out. “That’s plenty of time. Don’t let them hold you up.”
Not exactly sympathetic or charitable, but apparently it did the trick. Good4 was more cheerful about the prospect of passing her old spinster of a sister than ever before. That little line did more than any reassurance I could provide. Somehow, hearing it from a respected teacher was more effective than hearing it from the party involved.
It ain’t what, it’s who.