16 January 2007

are you sensitive to the smell of bitter almonds?

For a month now, an article entitled "Questions Couples Should Ask (Or Wish They Had) Before Marrying" has been one of the top ten most emailed articles on the New York Times website. Though not at all silly, the questions do seem rather "early-relationship" to me, and the fact that so many people seem interested in them reminds me of our group premarital counseling, during which we learned that some couples had not discussed whether or not they wanted to have children (much less if so, when). Going about things this way does not seem to be a good way of maintaining a friendship, much less avoiding a divorce lawyer.

(If this article applies to you, don't panic, but for heaven's sake, please start talking. Once you're done with these questions, imagine your fiance is an alien and explain your planet to him. Discuss his every interruption or confusion, as these are basic matters on which you need not necessarily agree, but absolutely must communicate. Do not get married until you reach the critical balance of having asked all the questions you can think of and being entirely sure you haven't thought of everything you want to know about this person.)

While we were engaged, I was frequently the recipient of totally unsolicited yet fascinating marriage advice. "Focus on his needs. If he's happy, you'll be happy," was an intriguing suggestion, but not highly regarded (as my readers may imagine). On the other hand, I think one of the best ideas was, "Make sure this is the person you could happily have dinner with every night of your life." Well that's it exactly, isn't it? Someone with whom you are comfortable...about whom you could never learn enough...with whom every situation, from Wednesday night pizza to a complicated formal dinner, is more wonderful. That's happiness.

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