Leveraging his own wedding to his fellow WPRI reporter, Kim Kalunian, Ted Nesi filled his weekend column with marriage advice from Rhode Island politicos. Curiously, far-left Senator Sheldon Whitehouse comes closest to the advice that I would offer:
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (married to Sandra, 31 years): “When some little thing annoys you, step back. Remember that marriage is for life. ‘Yes, dear’ is usually a successful end to the conversation.”
In my view, the keystone for a successful marriage — the principal wedge that keeps the entire arch from falling — is the understanding of permanence. Concern for your spouse’s feelings and a drive for mutual care and assistance, as well as a willingness to let things go, are all critical, but a prior imperative is that you have to work things out. Overcoming annoyances and even significant and legitimate grievances will make you a better person and your marriage stronger, but you have to believe that there is no out. (Life happens, of course, and sometimes there has to be an out, but the threshold should be so high as to be unthinkable until the alternative is even more unthinkable.)
This sounds difficult. Even Jesus’ disciples reacted to the permanence of marriage by saying, “If that is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry” (Matthew 19:10). But the difficulty is short lived and should be periodic at worst. As a general proposition (accepting that some people’s experience will be different), having incentive to get over differences quickly should make life easier than living with a sense of insecurity.
The irony — oft noted in recent years — is that the left-wing politicians who make up the largest part of Nesi’s column (and Rhode Island politics) support and create policies that erode the incentives toward stable families. Therefor, the benefits thereof accrue to those in advantaged classes, for whom social mores continue to support a traditional view of family contradicting their articulated progressive principles.
The rest of us should do as they do, not as they say, and push back on government policies that undermine our ability to build a strong marriage culture among ourselves.