Thursday, September 03, 2009


Maybe because it is September 3rd (the day I, once long ago, got married), maybe because I yet again began a semester teaching the law of marriage, or maybe for altogether different reasons, I thought a lot about the institution of marriage today. On and off, as I biked past a slightly misty early morning lake…


…and then later, when I strolled in between classes along State Street, and then again as I biked home, tired from too little sleep and too much thinking. I thought especially about why some people rush to marry and a handful resist it, and I wondered what it says about those who do rush or do resist.

I thought how the stated reasons (for plunging or for running in the opposite direction) are probably never the true reasons. But if I had to pick and choose, the best reasons (for plunging into married life) have to do, I think, with wanting to care for someone you love. (Because marriage is, after all, merely a set of legal protections that we confer upon each other.)

One curious idea that I had was that people who love being married are often not very good at it. And people who do not take to marriage are not very good at it either, leaving us with a very small sample of those who are, indeed, good at this marital union thing. Perhaps that is why so many marriages fail.

But I don’t mean to sound morose about any of it. In the years that you feel yourself to be successfully in a partnership with someone, life is very very good. Early or late in life, there for a while, or gone within days – no matter. Once you have experienced a good marriage, you know that there is nothing wrong with the institution itself. Only with those who at times, so imperfectly fall into its embrace.