Marriage is like democracy. It is the least worst option
My baby brother is getting married, although he isn’t quite old enough. Actually, he never will be old enough.
Since, like many a baby brother, he is locked in time. Suspended in history somewhere where he still has limbs like twigs and goes by a nickname that no one has been allowed to call him for decades.
So in my head he is still Neddy, and he is about 3. It’s the middle of a stinking hot summer circa 1980 and I have had the idea of using the hose to fill our plastic bin with cold water to make him a swimming pool. Neck deep in the cool water, he is looking up at me like I am an absolute genius.
When my mobile rings though it is bristly, big-voiced Ed on the other end. He is calling from work and he wants me to speak at his wedding. At first, I suppose, I am pleased, then surprised, then concerned.
So far my experience of marriage has been inextricably wound up with the experience of numerous closely packed small children. I don’t even know what marriage without small children feels like.
But marriage with small children feels like sitting down to a dish of mental and physical deterioration, served on the tanned hide of personal freedom. I am more of a casualty than a proponent.
Hasn’t he got a young friend, still flushed from the fire of his first child-free years of marriage, with something nice to say? Or perhaps an older acquaintance, glowing from the attainment of a wedding jubilee, who can serve to remind everyone that it really can be done.
At the best of times getting me to say something nice is a bit like producing diamonds – it takes years of extreme pressure to create something very small. But in the circumstances getting me to speak at, or about, a marriage is high risk. What if bits of truth start to spew out?
Little brother, marriage is a great idea if your partner is becoming too attentive. And children, well they are perfect if you are sick of your partner treating you like you’re number one.
And if you are a geyser of desire you need to ask yourself, “How much do I like eating chicken?” because marriage is like eating chicken - for the rest of your life. There are a hell of a lot of things you can do with chicken, but it is still chicken.
No, I will need to concentrate on the pluses. Marriage is like democracy. It is the least worst option.
Most people have a layer of normality that is about as deep as the silver stuff on a scratchy, and marriage is somewhere we can safely be the person underneath the silver stuff.
Marriage is two people in front of a wall – on your own you can’t get over it, but with a leg up new things become possible.
But there’s more - when you retire you will already have a bridge partner. Your insurance premiums might improve. You’ll always have someone to pick you up after an anaesthetic.
If you ever found romance tricky, fear not because the only place you’ll find it now is between Comedy and Thriller at the DVD store.
Perhaps it’s better to just skip straight to some advice. First, always keep the lines of communication open.
My husband apparently noted to himself the other day that I had packed on a couple of winter kgs. But he is way too safety conscious to actually raise anything like this in person.
So he waited until he got to work, and then emailed me an image of the Teletubbies with the caption “Which one are you?”. What a stupid question. The only one that looks vaguely like me is Laa-Laa.
Second, handle your partner with care. My husband and I never criticise each other’s personal qualities. We just tell each other what our next spouse will be like.
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