Something new or just a memory lapse?

Posted: Sunday, March 18, 2001

Marriages today have less than a 50 percent chance of survival, but that doesn't seem to be slowing us down. Every spring, people flock to all manner of special places to declare commitment in the presence of loved ones. Some wear specialized, expensive clothing and have tons of cut flowers while others go for simpler fare. Whatever the style, size and intensity of the wedding, you can only hope the couple has thought it over and is prepared for the adventure of sharing a bathroom and bank account. Before the ceremony starts, I feel duty bound to say a few words to the intended.

You speak in complete sentences to each other now, but that will end. In a few short years, you will never complete a sentence in the company of your spouse because, A) your spouse will finish it for you, B) one of you will leave the room, or C) you will know the end of the sentence and it becomes unnecessary. By the time this happens, it will no longer upset you. In fact, you will be dependent on it and no longer capable of real speech when your spouse is within earshot. Everyone will be used to it and not think less of you.

The rooms of your house will all technically be communal territory, but before long, there will be places where only one of you will go. The crawlspace, for example. One of you, and you know who you are, will have the crawlspace to yourself for wrapping pipes, finding leaks, whatever it is that goes on down there. There may be closets that only one of you knows about, drawers and cupboards that are total strangers to the other of you. Don't be fooled into thinking this private space will allow you to preserve your own radio settings or have a chance at anything ever being the way you left it.

You will share so many things in your life together, finding your own interests will give you something to talk about. If you only saw the same movies and had the same hobbies, there would be no conversation. Diverse interests liven up the house. "How was your morning, Sweetheart?" "Well, I got the back 40 plowed and rotated the tires on the lawnmower. How about yours?" "You'll never guess, I checked three more species off my life list, then split the atom." It's possible your pursuits will be too diverse and you won't be the slightest bit interested in what your Reason for Living chooses to spend his/her time on, but if you have your own stuff to do, you won't mind.

It will take a little time to learn each other's ways and fully explore/exploit them, and if you're lucky, you will never learn them all. When you have logged a lot of years together, it will be hard to tell if you're learning something new about your spouse or that you had just forgotten about it. It doesn't matter, you can count on your One True to let you know. Don't be alarmed to realize you've beaten the odds and you also count on him/her to remind you to breathe and regulate the beating of your heart.

Nita Nettleton can be reached at

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