Sunday, December 6, 2015

Marriage Reveals Us

A lesson from fiction this week.

I just re-read the great novel “Olive Kitteridge” by Elizabeth Strout. It’s a story about the human heart and hope and love and pain. It’s a book that opens one’s veins I think.

In an interview with the author, Strout says, “A marriage is always a source of great drama for a fiction writer. It is in our most intimate relationships that we are truly revealed; that is why I write about married relationships.”

“We are revealed”, she says. And I am nodding. That is why I like being married. When John and I were first together, and his cancer was newly diagnosed, friends said to me, “You don’t have to marry him.” Some others said, “He has cancer; you don’t have to take that on.” What they meant was, “You don’t have to be a martyr.” But what they didn’t understand is that I am not a martyr –not a bit. Actually I’m quite selfish, and that’s partly why I like marriage. 

Stout nails it: “We are revealed,” she says. Being married is actually selfish, and being a cancer caregiver may even have a hint of selfish in it. They are both very powerful and intense ways of seeing oneself.

Yes, you could take the long, expensive route by going to psychoanalysis or try a cheap, fast route of a self-help weekend to learn about yourself, but marriage works.
Even when it doesn’t.  

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