Monday, October 15, 2007

Analyze This

"The people people have for friends
Your common sense appall
But the people people marry
Are the queerest folk of all."
- Charlotte Perkins Gilman

That's a link to an article discussing a new book, "For Love of Politics" that purports to analyze Bill and Hillary Clinton's marriage. Gee--what new and original subject matter.

Notwithstanding everyone's opinions on that topic (They don't really love each other! They are so in love! They are old, dear friends! They hate each other!), I'm just going to file this book under Stupid Meaningless Nonsensical Publications. Why? Because, as anyone married or formerly married knows, trying to dissect anyone's marriage is a fool's errand. We all have one or two of those friends whose spouse we cannot figure out, whose entire marital relationship we cannot figure out. How can she stand him? What do they talk about at the end of a day? That must be the most boring marriage ever... I tend to think that it's less of a lack on the part of the married couple, and more a lack on the part of outsiders trying to understand something of which they are not a part.

Even my own parents, whom I believe to have been fantastic raisers of children and exemplars of good marriage (if I may say so myself), had a marriage that I found to be inexplicable even on a good day. Not the love and commitment part; that I got. But the "how does she put up with that?" kind of stuff. I'm sure no small number of people saw them and wondered what on god's green earth brought these people together. I'm sure many people ask that about their kids' relationships too. What I'm getting at is that we can all identify aspects of other people's relationships that we wouldn't put up with under any circumstances, so why bother judging? A marriage or long-term relationship is unique to every couple in it. Or, as a recent anniversary card I sent said, "A good marriage is like a casserole; only the people making it know what goes into it."

I myself have no opinion on the Clintons' marriage, mostly because I just don't care, any more than I care about Jennifer Lopez's marriage or Angelina and Brad's marriage. Yes, it's entertaining to armchair psychoanalyze people in public life so that they conform to our pre-set opinions of them, perhaps because doing so fills the time we'd otherwise use to analyze our own marriages and relationships to bad effect? Who knows? All I do know is that just as you don't need to know the secret (and potentially ugly) ingredients that make the casserole tasty, you don't always need to know the specifics of someone's marriage to determine its worth. Sometimes you just have to say, "Hey--they seem fine with it and they aren't hurting anyone. So I'm going to mind my own damn business."

But then what would people write books about?

1 comment:

Vigilante said...

Maybe they'd have to write about themselves... (But would that be a relief?)