Tuesday, July 07, 2009

A Commitment to Marriage is No Joke (My Turn - Newsweek) by Dr. Alan Singer

What irked me about Ed Goldman's "My Turn" essay was when he stated regarding his 3rd wife and himself, "The fact that our first marriages were relatively brief misjudgements." That motivated me to post a comment on the Newsweek website. Ed Goldman then commented on my post. Click here to read the tale as it appears in my monthly Home News Tribune column.

June is for weddings, so here's a column on marriage. Ed Goldman used the "My Turn" space in Newsweek Magazine to describe his three marriages. In his essay, "It's Not About The Flatware," he focused on his current (third) wife Candy, and how they are melding their furniture, flatware and appliances, which were "acquired over a combined 75 years of adult life."

Candy's second marriage was abusive; Ed's second marriage lasted for 29 years, when his wife was tragically taken by breast cancer. Ed's essay is meaningful and well written, but one comment that he made irked me. Ed described something that he and Candy had in common, "The fact that our first marriages were relatively brief misjudgments."

So I took my outrage over to the computer and posted the following comment at the Newsweek Web site: "Ed Goldman's essay described the world that he plunged into, one in which people fall in and out of love sequentially. Social scientists refer to this trend as serial monogamy. His description of his and his wife's first, second, and third marriages is very thorough. But in my 30 years as a family therapist, I get bad dreams from reading scary statements like, our first marriages were relatively brief misjudgements; yikes! Thankfully most couples that I have assisted over the years care deeply about the enduring and vital institution we know as marriage."

I said my piece and I didn't think about the comment I posted until something made me wonder if anyone ever posted other comments about Ed's essay. I went back to the site and had a look. Lo and behold, I saw that Ed Goldman himself had replied to my comment six months prior. Ed stated, "While I appreciate Dr. Singer's comments, I'd like to point out that my second marriage lasted almost 29 years until the death of my wife. I believe that says something about my belief in the enduring and vital institution we know as marriage."

I was embarrassed and immediately posted this comment: Holy Toledo, Ed! I apologize for being so rude. I never imagined that one should look back at a Web site where one posted a comment. I told Ed that I did not mean to minimize the potential that second marriages have for success. I meant to maximize the potential for a marriage to be the one and only marriage for an individual, not his/her first marriage, and certainly never referring to it by the nauseating label of a starter marriage.

I will never forget the scolding that I received from the rabbi who married my wife and me. When I jokingly referred to my one and only wife of 32 years as my first wife, he admonished me, saying, "Joke about other things, Alan, that's really not funny."

On a related note: There is immediacy to the Internet that I have not adjusted to yet. The rule is, NOW is what matters. You write NOW; others comment NOW. This describes the popularity of Twitter and the importance of posting one's status on Facebook. By tomorrow, nobody will look back at yesterday. I missed my NOW moment with Ed Goldman and there's no looking back. I'm not sure it even pays to discuss whether this is good for relationships and society because it has already swept in and is the new reality. We might as well enjoy it. Does anyone still remember typing a letter on a Smith-Corona and mailing it to someone via the U.S. Post Office?

Be Counted columnist Dr. Alan Singer is a marriage therapist in Highland Park. Respond to this column via his Web site www.FamilyThinking.com


Noah Wolfe said...

I think I have an old bottle of Smith-Corona in the liquor cabinet. Good stuff. ;)