A Word In Edgewise: Looking Ahead – and Behind

What will be the outcome of any given marriage of two loving minds? I’m by no means your go-to guy for marriage advice, mine own having lasted the previously mentioned two years less two days.

Still, that proved a longer run than Romeo and Juliet’s 48 hours. The Guthrie’s recent production of Shakespeare’s classic emphasized that mayfly brevity. Their kinetic youth and hormone-fueled emotions vibrate through the other young people of the feuding Montague and Capulet clans; insults hurled, gestures insultingly displayed, threats shouted in the public square. Rowdy, open-sword-carrying teens unwilling to be bested or dissed: what could go wrong? Over them all looms a tower, its clock face lit, hands turning remorselessly as it counts down towards the doomed youngsters’ demise.

Young they were; Juliet not quite 14, Romeo, of indeterminate age, embodying every love-struck teen. On Sunday, Romeo first sees Juliet. Sparks fly; he erases the previously desired Rosaline. Monday, Romeo and Juliet marry and consummate the union. Tuesday–Wednesday, clan complications and plots. Thursday evening, they are dead. Mere hours from first spark to the dying of the light.

Time flows for all couples, yet there is always that first spark, and, inevitably, that last light. The question is, how best to use the time in-between. My observations, if not experiences, lead me to suggest one particular thing to the marriage-bound:

Keep that spark lit, as early settlers banked an ember, however small, to light the next day’s fire, for as Loretta and Conway sang it, “There’s nothing cold as ashes, after the fire is gone.”

Keep your personal spark as well: old friends, hobbies, interests and enthusiasms. If you relinquish your spark, how can you continue to light the daily fire? There will be adjustments for couplehood, but keep on skiing, painting, playing poker, having wine with a pal. Some couples cleave together till death them do part, while others split, and must take up single life again. It’s prudent to have friends available in good times and bad.

I suppose mine’s not the coup-de-foudre, romantic vision of marriage (two years less two days?) but in addition to cultivating that spark, one might also consider the old Roman, “Si vis pacem, para bellum,” or the more contemporary Boy Scout, “Be Prepared.”

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