Ricochet is the best place on the internet to discuss the issues of the day, either through commenting on posts or writing your own for our active and dynamic community in a fully moderated environment. In addition, the Ricochet Audio Network offers over 50 original podcasts with new episodes released every day.
Quote of the Day: Marriage
Bachelors know more about women than married men; if they didn’t they’d be married too. – H. L. Mencken
I have been invited to a wedding today. I don’t know the couple very well. They are a young couple that started attending my church a year or two ago. I approve of marriage on principle and they are a nice pair of folks, so I will be attending the ceremony. I want to encourage the institution. It is necessary for the preservation of civilization, and I would rather live in a civilized world.
Yet I have to admit on one level Mencken is right. Marriage requires a high level of commitment and (yes) sacrifice to succeed. On that level, a sensible person would run screaming from marriage. You can live along quite comfortably when you are the only person to consider. If you want to avoid conflict, stay single.
Marriage is an adventure requiring two for success. Both have to work at it. When it succeeds, it succeeds magnificently. When it fails, it generally fails spectacularly. If I had known as much about women as most bachelors, I probably would not have gotten married. The odds of failure are high. But oh, the rewards if you succeed. It is a gamble, especially today. But, like any startup, the rewards are worth it.Published in General
I love it!
Well stated. You must be a writer. Hehe . . .
It is hard not to enjoy Mencken’s humor. Every notion in the quote is false. Funny, but false.
Yes, on both levels. It’s true only for those that wish to avoid the complications marriage entails. Which is fine if you don’t mind missing the rewards.
There are things in life that must be done without reliance on rational process. That’s what happened to me and I’m happy for it. I was a bachelor for quite a while but I learned nothing.
Oh, wait. Perhaps I learned what I didn’t want to be part of so when something very different came along no thought was necessary.
I believe that perhaps the apotheosis of human existence is a successful life pairing. No matter what, my years with Linda have been the highlight of my life, ere they end tomorrow.
The rewards of getting it right make the work pale in comparison.
Lewis Grizzard once quipped that he was through with marriage. From that point on, he was just going to find a woman that already hated him and buy her a house.
Man, I really like that.
I think the apotheosis of human existence is the advancement of knowledge.
Most certainly not. I would trade knowledge for what I have with Linda.
I don’t agree with H. L. Mencken. In fact, I think he was just trying to get a laugh out of people.
When I was in my twenties and I was single, I was sometimes pessimistic about my chances of getting married. But I knew I wanted to get married someday or at least be in a relationship that is very similar to marriage (for example, living with a woman for the purpose of staying together indefinately).
Back then, I envied men who were married. Now, as a married man (I have been married for 21 years), I feel a sense of empathy for men who have reached my age (I am 56 years old) and have never been married.
Now, I suppose if one is famous person or a billionaire one doesn’t need to get married to obtain consistent female companionship. But I think for the large majority of men, being open to the idea of either marriage or at least a serious attempt at being sexually faithful to a woman is the best path to happiness, assuming one is attracted to women.
I am also friends with a two gay men who have been together in their relationship for longer than my wife and I have been together. I get a sense that they think the benefits of that kind of relationship is better than living life completely independently.
Human beings are social animals. We need each other’s companionship almost as much as we need food and shelter, in my opinion.
I feel like I should add a few more thoughts on marriage, since I think my marriage is so central to my happiness and the happiness of others.
I was raised by two non-religious parents. They didn’t openly tell me their metaphysical outlook. But we never prayed, never read the Bible and rarely went to church.
My parents didn’t have a good marriage. They separated when I was 9 years old. My Mom left and got her own apartment. But that only lasted a year before my Mom moved back in with us. But then when I was 13 years old my Mom filed for divorce. My Mom got the house and my Dad moved into a house located two miles away.
My wife’s parents also had a bad marriage, perhaps worse. My wife’s father was occasionally physically abusive towards my wife’s mother and my wife’s older brother at one point tried to defend his Mom against his father. They divorced and my wife’s Mom remarried a few years later. That marriage lasted until my wife’s Mom died 10 years ago.
I think my wife and I both had this idea in our heads that we could do better than our parents did. When I was growing up, a tight knit Mormon family lived across the street and I was good friends with a few of the kids as they were about my age. I envied the fact that this family seemed cohesive and the father and mother didn’t argue constantly.
Also, I had a young aunt (6 years older than me) who got married when she was 22 and her marriage seemed very good. So, I did have an idea as to what I thought a good marriage would look like.
These days I occasionally reflect on whether I am doing enough to make my marriage good and not demanding that my wife do more to make the marriage good.
Ok. We are less than a week out from Valentine’s Day. So, maybe that explains my desire to expand on this topic.
I have written here about how the event of my proposal of marriage to my wife of 56 years was and still is a puzzle to me. It’s like it came out of the blue, if that’s an expression describing something unexplainable.
I had an upbringing in some ways perhaps more troubling than yours, parents MIA, saw my father once after I was four years old, lived with my mother who was always at work so I didn’t see arguing or abuse.
But my favorite first cousin thinks I saw the potential family that I had missed having when I proposed marriage.
So far in this thread, there doesn’t seem to have been any discussion about having children. This does seem to be the primary temporal purpose of marriage.
It doesn’t seem as important to many people as it used to be. My own impression is that large numbers of Americans never seem to grow up. Some of them even have kids, but still don’t seem to have grown up.
It’s probably easier to have a successful marriage when the wife is willing to submit to the husband’s leadership. This seems quite rare, these days, except perhaps among retirees.
I guess my question to you would be this: If a man and woman, both about 28 years old, say to you that they are going to get married in a few months, would you tell them, “Don’t do it because marriage in the United States has been corrupted by a series of bad laws and bad US Supreme Court decisions?”
Or would you tell them, “If you know each other well and are willing to make sacrifices on each other’s behalf, you should get married?”
Or would you tell them something else?
I don’t “agree” with him either. I think he was just being fey, humorous, sarcastic, funny, whatever you want to call it. In short, “I think he was just trying to get a laugh out of people” too.
But isn’t that what much of humor is about? Making us smile, shake our heads, and think about what’s actually true, underneath the literal?
People used to be able do do that. Have we lost that ability?
Wut? Please explain.
Like in “wokeness” submit, you know, husband, head of the family.
I’d tell them they should have, in most cases, gotten married 5-7 years earlier and had two kids by now.
What is they only met each other six months ago? What would you say then?
Oh, I think my credentials on this matter are excellent (and have nothing to do with “retirees). This is why I am questioning the point
I missed what you were questioning.
Have we lost the ability? Yup.
I don’t agree with Menken’s sentiment in this quote, and really he didn’t either. He got married in 1930 and lost his wife to meningitis five years later. He was heartbroken. It was apparently a very good marriage.
But it is funny. Except no one seems to have the ability to laugh anymore. There is something humor-destroying in the air like the residue of a burning chemical train.
Like voting for Republicans.
My wife’s youngest niece is 28 years old and will be getting married in about 7 weeks. She will be graduating from medical school a few months after that.
While my wife’s niece was raised by devout protestant Christian parents and she herself used to be religious, she no longer is very religious. Her fiance is from a Jewish family.
I also have other relatives from the younger generation (which I call anyone under the age of 40 since I am 56 years old) who have gotten married. All but one of these marriages are, to date, successful marriages, at least as far as I can tell observing from the outside.
Some of these couples are completely non-religious while others are at least culturally Christian but not very devout in their Christian faith and two of the couples are devout Christians.
It is true that marriage isn’t what it used to be. We have easy divorce. Society no longer disapproves of pre-marital sexual intercourse. Homosexuality is generally accepted.
But none of this means that people can’t enjoy the benefits of either marriage or a long term relationship, which can include living together. It isn’t all doom and gloom.
I think this is part of what I personally found so strange about the immediate period leading up to my marriage. I was acquainted with my future wife some years before we dated. We dated for 3 months and I had a chance to spend some time with her and her family, mother, siblings, and nephew, once even snowed-in for a weekend. Then I asked her to marry, she agreed but said I would have to ask her mother. I did and she approved. We set a date two months out. We never discussed having children. I’m pretty sure our first daughter was conceived on our wedding night, May 20th since today is her birthday.
This all happened in 1966. The emergence of feminism was a prominent feature of that period. Anything notable in that courtship?
The rewards are possible only if the individual has received either the grace of having the right person come along at the right time, or else the wisdom to figure out how to make that happen.
Someone I dated after my first marriage ended remarked that “the right one” pretty much also has to show up at the right time.
For instance, a person who has been widowed might not be open to the right person for Marriage Number Two if that person showed up right after the spouse had died.
I was merely questioning Jerry’s premise, as he expressed it in the above comment.
I am a huge fan of marriage. Well, my marriage.
Nevertheless, marriage requires ongoing and deep mutual investment in order to be a success.
I’d be delighted and wish them well. And, if appropriate for the situation, offer my future support.