Areas of Unrest
29 August 1999 - About Marriage
Tonight was Marsha and Terry's 30th anniversary party. It was a wonderful but unlikely gathering, held at a bowling alley in Montrose. A potluck dinner, bowling for those who were brave enough to make fools of themselves, followed by a small ceremony and a sharing circle. I knew only a few other people there, but it was comfortable anyway. In the sharing circle, I mentioned Marsha telling me about things to do in Wisconsin and I mentioned The House on the Rock. This is a horribly tacky tourist attraction, one of America's great monuments to kitsch. But the context in which it's relevant is that one of the rooms in The House on the Rock is called the Cantilever Room. And it's just that - a cantilevered structure built out over the valley, so that at the end you can look through a glass coffee table through the glass floor and see down to the valley 50 feet below. That room strikes me as a good metaphor for marriage. It takes a strong structure to support that cantilever, just as a strong relationship supports adventures and risks in life.
Marsha says, however, that the real secret is that Terry works nights.
For myself, I find myself worrying about growing old alone, afraid of what I might have to cope with. And I don't like thinking about marriage as a solution to adulthood, when it should be a way to enhance adulthood. I'm afraid that I might decide I want dependence instead of support, that I might find the cantilever so scary that I look for a pillar of support and give up the free end. It helps when I can look at friends who have marriages that I think foster mutual growth. Sitting in that bowling alley, listening to their children, their neighbors, their friends had to say about Marsha and Terry, reminded me that the sort of marriage I want is possible. And that it's something worth holding out for.
Who says you can't learn anything while wearing rented shoes?
Copyright 1999 Miriam H. Nadel
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