Sep 15 2010

Personal question

Last week when we were at the store picking up a couple of things, a clerk named Rachel had helped us. She is in high school. When Heather went back a couple days ago, Rachel was working again.

“Can I ask you a personal question?” she asked Heather as she rung he up.

“Suuurrrre,” said Heather, a little warily.

“Are you and your daughters’ father married?”

“Sixteen years. Why do you ask?”

“You just seem like such a cute couple.”

————

I don’t think it was a rude question. It’s more of a valid question, which I guess is what makes it so sad. The general perception of marriage is one of boredom, drudgery and misery until one can finally break free of the bum/loser/tyrant/shrew he or she was saddled with. Singleness and divorce are frequently perceived as full of freedom, choice, and opportunity.

Married people are largely to blame for this stereotype. Marriage is a commitment, and it is (at times) hard work. Unfortunately, there are only a handful of qualifications to get married, and those are relatively easy to meet. Getting married is cheap and easy, so it shouldn’t be any wonder that people who have no business promising to stay devoted no matter what do so.¬†It’s no real wonder that in Roman Catholicism there are 25 patron saints of difficult marriages (there is only one patron saint of happy marriages: St. Valentine).

The baffling thing is that we in America, do not, as a rule,¬†practice arranged marriage, so unhappiness with one’s spouse is largely a result of one’s choices.

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